Thursday, 30 November 2006

Funeral & Traffic

Again the Libyan community in London gathered at the mosque today for the funeral of one of the most respected Libyan men in the UK, Mr. Mohsen Omaire May Allah have mercy on his soul (الحاج محسن عمير عليه رحمة الله).
I phoned my boss earlier and asked him for permission to attend the Janaza Prayer, he was kind enough to let me attend the prayers and he even told me that I can go to the burial if I wanted, The deceased was a friend of my late father and he was always kind to me so I was really grateful that I could attend the burial.
I left work a bit early and headed to the mosque and put my car in the pay & display car park, as I entered the mosque there were many Libyan men inside then someone announced that the Dhuhr prayers was in half an hour and not now so many of us had to go out to the car park to adjust the time for parking.
After the prayers we stood outside trying to organise how to get to the cemetry, I didn't know how to get there as I have only been there once before so I asked one of my friends who knew the way to let me follow him and I kept repeating it to him in case he forgets. We got to the car park then he started driving and I was driving behind him.
As soon as he got to the traffic light it started to change, instead of stopping as there was no way that I could go through, he shot past the now red traffic light, I had to wait and it was one of those annouying lights that take for ever to change, as I got through I started looking for my friends car thinking he would be waiting for me, he was not there! I drove further and kept looking but nothing! I phoned him and asked him where he was, he said he was on his way to the cemetry, I was surprised and reminded him that I did'nt know the way and was depending on him to show me the way, he blamed me for not driving through the red light to catch up with him, can you believe this?? I drove around in circles then decided to drive back to work. I am so angry, in fact I am fuming and can feel black smoke coming out of the top of my head, I missed the funeral because I am a law abiding citizen that did not want to drive through red traffic lights.

Sunday, 26 November 2006

My Son the HERO

Children's imagination has no bounds, they usually come up with the weirdest things, like my 5 year old son when I am walking out with him usually as soon as we are on the pavement he would say Baba make sure that you do not step on the grooves or cracks between pavement slabs! Why? apparently there are Crocodiles & Sharks living there and if I step in between then that is it, I am eaten by them! the funny thing is that sometimes when I am walking on my own I catch myself doing it, walking from the middle of one slab to the other just as my son told me.
Once I was driving and both of my kids were sitting at the back, I heard someone break wind and it was REALLY stinky, I turned my head and said ooooffffffff who did this? my daughter straightaway said it wasn't her, after a short pause my son said it was him and he had to do it because we were being chased by lots of Baddies and he wanted to save us so he let out this smelly wind to repel them, I am sure it worked since it was very smelly.

Well I should be thankful to my son the HERO he saved me from all those nasty crocodiles & sharks and the horrible Baddies.

Another important thing for me to say:

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Today is my mother's birthday, I want to wish her a happy day and wish her a long healthy life InshAllah and tell her that I love her and think the best of her and that she has always stood by me and my brothers even though she left her family in Lebanon at young age to come and live in Libya with my father after they got married, she has suffered a lot by not seeing her family for many many years due to many circumstances but she never lost any of her kindness and her happy sense of humour.

May Allah bless my mother and all the mothers everywhere

My mother wrote many poems as this was what she enjoyed most, she told me that she wrote the following short poems back in the 1960s when my brothers and I were very young, she would tuck us in our beds and stay with us until we fall asleep then she would write poems as there was not much else to do these days:

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يادنيا امرك غريب
وحالك .. عجيب

تقربى .. البعيد
وتبعدى .. القريب

تعطينا كل ما عندك من عداب
وتأخدى منا الصحة والشباب

العمر يمر يوما بعد يوم
وتنطفئ شمعة الحياة

ولا نأخد من دنيانا شيئ
سوى قبر صغير
وحفنة من تراب


يا صغارى

يا احبابى ياأعزائى

أنتم زهورى
أنتم طيورى

أنتم الأمل فى حياتى

لكم من دمى طعاما
ومن دمعى شرابا

ومن جسدى شمعة
تنير لكم طريق الحياة

Thursday, 23 November 2006

The End of an Era

The Avenue School was a small private primary Muslim school in London, it has been going for about 10 years and had a good reputation as one of the best Muslim schools in London, it teaches the National Curriculum plus Islamic studies and Arabic, it had an extensive Arabic department with many experienced Arabic language teachers, most of the students at this school had an excellent command of the Arabic language and of the Muslim religion, at the end of term assemblies students used to sing in Arabic or read poetry and the Quran and even perform Arabic plays, the age range of children in this school was from 3 to about 11 years old.
This faith school taught children how to respect and be tolerant to others and this is partly why my children are very well behaved, the school had no bullying and was run under a happy and respectable Muslim environment.
The school recently went through the process of changing from a private school to a state funded school and achieved the Voluntary Aided status but due to many problems which I can not get into but partly due to the bad behaviour of some of the parents which behaved in a non Islamic way, the school is unfortunately closing down at the end of this term (mid December 2006) I have already taken my children out last month and now they attend a normal English school.
As a private school it was run by a Muslim charity that spared no expenses to make it into one of the best primary schools around with the best IT equipment and teaching resources that a school can have, I had the privilege of doing a lot of work at this school and my work is still based very close to this school where I get to see the children playing in the school grounds through the windows everyday, it really saddens me that this time next month the grounds will be empty, there will be no more laughter and screaming and happy kids. Many of The Avenue School pupils will InshAllah go to Islamia School but their future is still hanging and nothing is guaranteed. What I am dreading is that in January I would probably be taking part in removing everything to do with this school from its buildings including lots of drawings and presentations done by my children over the past few years.
The school had beautifully maintained grounds including flower gardens and play areas, they even had a gardening club to introduce the children to the pleasure of planting and creating beautiful gardens. The school was always very clean and the toilets are always spotless which is something that can not be said about other certain Muslim establishments in London.

This is a small Herb and flowers garden

One of the many sports days they had and you can see the happy faces of the children, some of these sports days were in aid of charities such as the McMillan Cancer Support or the British Heart Foundation plus collecting money for Palestinian and Iraqi victims and many Muslim charities.

Children always celebrated Eid with a big party where they got to wear their Eid clothes and were always served with a meal and given a present afterwards, this school had a very healthy food policy and was probably one of the first to implement it in London, children were not allowed to bring in their lunch boxes any fizzy drinks, crisps, sweets or chocolate and only got to enjoy these as a treat during the 2 Eid parties they held every year.

This picture was taken during happier times about 2 years ago during the Nursery Graduation Party! Yes the boy picking his nose is my son! how embarassing.

The School usually took part in local events, this was during Brent Council's Eid celebration for the Muslim community, the school presented a song and most of the children wore traditional clothes, you can see my daughter wearing a Libyan costume but she was not very happy as it was a bit to big for her.

The children on stage singing

The school used to organize school trips for all classes according to their age, they would visit theme parks, zoos and historical places in London, the above picture is from a trip about the Great Fire of London, you can see Tower Bridge and the River Thames at the back.

I had hoped that my children would finish their primary education and learn Arabic and Islamic studies at this school, this is not to be. My children are already missing the school, their friends and their teachers, I will be missing the school as well.

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Happy Thanksgiving to all that celebrate it

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

ikbis - Photo & Video Sharing

I have joined this new Arabic website ikbis, it is a cross between Flickr and YouTube, a website for sharing your pictures and videos, you can even put the videos on your website/blog just like YouTube.
It is still new so it doesn't have a lot of media but it seems to be growing everyday, go on try it.

Sunday, 19 November 2006

Wedding Invitation

Last night we went to a Pakistani wedding that we were invited to few weeks ago, the wedding invite said: No Boxed Gifts Please, this really confused me as I wasn't sure if it meant no gifts at all or if it meant just flat gifts, i.e. money. I chose the later, I put a small amount of money inside a wedding card and gave it to the father. The wedding was held at an Islamic Centre so we knew there was not going to be any singing or dancing, as we arrived the father was standing outside the door and he directed me and my son towards the stairs where a hall was hired for men and my wife went to the ladies hall with my daughter, as I entered I was overwhelmed by the huge number of people already sitting and I felt completely lost as I was within a different community to mine, this invite came from a work colleague so I walked around the tables hoping to find others that I know, luckily I spotted 2 of them and I almost ran to them with relief, the tables were set nicely with proper cutlery and napkins which makes a good change from the paper stuff you get in some weddings here.
Once we were all sat, they had a recitation from the Quran then an older man was invited to come and give a talk, this talk was in Urdu which obviously I do not speak, he went on and on for a long time, then my son said loudly Baba when is this man going to stop talking I cant understand him and I am hungry, luckily he was only heard by the people sitting next to us and not the speaker, any way after one hour the speech finished and we were told food would be served and what I dreaded did happen, it was a buffet dinner, there was hundreds of people there and I really hate queuing for food, the speaker announced that people sitting to the right side of the buffet should start first, I was the 5th person on the right, yippee :o)
So after a short Que I managed to get my food and some for my ever so full and never hungry when food is served son! he just sat there staring at it then just had a small piece of nan bread, the food was quite nice, the service was provided by a catering company that looked very clean.
There really wasn't much to do after we finished the dinner so one by one my colleagues started to disappear and soon afterwards I made my excuses and left with my family, it was nice, different from what I am used to but at least it was tidy and well organised, my son sat all the time never did anything naughty, there were many children but they were well behaved which brings me to my point about telling this story:

When I got this wedding invite I asked my colleague if my children were allowed to attend, he was amazed and said of course this invite is for the whole family, then I told him that usually when we get invited to Libyan weddings or occasions that are for women only there will always be a note at the bottom of the invitation card saying, We Wish children a Good Night or Please do not bring children and I explained to him that many of us can't attend these occasions because we do not have anyone to look after our young children.
Now I know that some of our children can be very destructive especially that many weddings are held in hired halls in hotels but not all kids are bad and most girls are actually very well behaved and at the end of the day parents should control their children but what gets to me is that my daughter who is 8 years old and is very curious to attend parties and Libyan weddings or henna nights never gets invited and she never gets to experience what a Libyan wedding is all about yet those same people keep telling you that you need to teach the children Libyan customs and Libyan this and Libyan that, how can she learn if she is never invited, when InshAllah she is an adult she will get invited but she will not know what to do or expect, she will probably find it not English enough and she will hate it, now who's fault is that?
As I said before, I do know that many children cause a lot of problems but perhaps the solution would be to provide them with a small area that is supervised by adults and provide them with some entertainment also the parents should be made aware that damage has to be paid for and most importantly parents with problem children know who they are so instead of getting angry when their children are told to behave perhaps these parents should not bring their children.

Monday, 13 November 2006

Regent Street & Piccadilly

Saturday morning I thought I would take the kids to central London, Christmas is only 6 weeks away and I wanted to go before the Christmas shopping stampede starts.
We took the train then the tube to Oxford Circus station which opens to Oxford Street, the street was packed with shoppers, we turned round the corner and into Regent Street, this street is very elegant and full of expensive good quality and designer shops.

While Regent Street has some of the nicest shops in London it actually has some of the best looking buildings as well .

In the middle of Regent Street a sign to the famous Carnaby Street which used to be world famous back in the 60s & 70s now it is a tourists attraction full of souvenir shops.

This year's Regent Street's Christmas lights, the theme is the new kids movie: Flushed Away!, it is not that good, I have seen much better light displays before.

Of course when you have children, you have to stop at the world famous toy store Hamleys.
There were members of their staff dressed in fancy dress and standing outside the shop and encouraging people to walk in, it is a huge shop on many floors full of the latest toys and you get to see many demonstrations as well, kids get to try many toys there as well before you decide to buy.
Be warned, it is a very expensive store.

The kids playing with the computers where you get to design things to do with Teddy Bears
A moving winter display

This Teddy giraffe is a bargain at only £3,500 !!
Many items in there are over priced and can be bought at a much cheaper prices in other shops but Hamleys has its own magic that keeps adults & children happy and entertained.

Teddy Bear Heaven

The elegant QUADRANT ARCADE in Regent Street
We ended spending a much longer time in Regent Street than I planned and that was due to the fun at Hamleys.

This is Piccadilly Circus at the back and the famous Eros statue, the area was full of tourists as usual, even though I lived most of my life in London I hardly ever go to these areas, when ever I go I usually feel like a tourist and not a resident of the city, this area can be very expensive and its full of tourists traps.

The Prince of Wales theater where the very popular MAMMA MIA musical is staged, this musical is based on the music of the ever so popular ABBA.

Hard Rock Cafe and Casino, I am not sure when they added a casino, I thought it was a cafe only!, this is actually not the well known Hard Rock Cafe in London which is situated in Park Lane, I think this must be a new one.

Planet Hollywood restaurant and shop, I have never been to Hard Rock cafe or Planet Hollywood in London, too touristy and too too expensive. Planet Hollywood is situated next to the TROCADERO CENTRE which is a tacky tourists trap, it is just few floors full of amusement arcade and gambling machines, most games cost a £1 for a play that lasts less than a minute, it is an absolutely awful place, in the summer it gets packed with tourists, especially Gulf Arabs that spend a vast amount of money in this place.
On a previous visit I have actually seen some Arab women wearing the head scarf and playing with the gambling machines while their kids played games. I walked with the kids inside for a bit and told them that it was very expensive to play here, Thank Allah my kids are very good and do take no for an answer. After we left Trocadero we went for lunch at one of the many fast food places around this area, that was not great either as they were full of people the staff were selling food continuously yet there was hardly any free seats and the service was awful but that is what its like when you go to tourists areas.
It was fun going there with the kids, they enjoyed the noise the lights and the crowds, me? I think it will be few more years before I return there.
We caught the train back for the journey home feeling exhausted, we could not find any seats as the train was packed with shoppers.

Friday, 10 November 2006

Smuggling Libyan Tortoises

I found this article on a news site, its about a Libyan man who tried to smuggle 400 Egyptian/Libyan tortoises to Italy just to sell them for a huge amount of money.
He was caught and arrested as these tortoises are protected by law in Europe and smuggling them is an offence, in fact they are so rare they have been put on the protected animals list that includes tigers.
400 of these small tortoises have been lost because of the action of this stupid man, Italy will never return these animals, they will be put in zoos and given to private collectors, again the wealth of Libya is being exploited by some people who are just hungry for money but have no respect for their own land.
This man should be punished for this crime and I hope that it will be a lesson to any greedy people in Libya that are trying to spoil the land, wake up Libya, look after what Allah gave you before its all too late.

As I said in a previous post, Libya should take more steps to protect its wild life especially that this tortoise has now been extinct in Egypt due to human greed, Libya still has a small population of them and should do all it can to protect them.

The article as I found it:

الرئيسية - ليبيا في الاعلام
Written by موقع قناة العالـم:
Nov 09, 2006 at 09:02 PM
مواطن ليبي يحاول تهريب 400 من السلاحف لايطاليا موقع قناة العالـم: عثرت سلطات مطار ميلانو على أکثر من 400 من السلاحف المهددة بالانقراض أحضرها أحد المواطنين الليبيين في حقيبتين من طرابلس لبيعها في ايطاليا بنحو 400 ألف يورو.
وأشارت تقارير صحافية صادرة الخميس، الى أن الحالة الصحية لبعض من هذه السلاحف المصرية الارضية کانت سيئة للغاية بسبب عملية النقل ولصغر حجمها.وألقت السلطات القبض على الشخص الليبي ووجهت اليه اتهاما بالتجارة غير المشروعة، واساءة معاملة الحيوانات، وسيتم نقل السلاحف الى احدى الحدائق المتخصصة في نابولي.يذکر أن القانون يحظر تجارة السلاحف التي تتراوح أطوالها بين 10 الى 15 سنتيمترا.

English Translation:

The authorities at Milan airport found more than 400 endangered tortoises hidden in 2 suitcases belonging to a Libyan national, these were smuggled to Italy to be sold for about 400,000 Euros. Press reports issued on thursday stated that the health condition of some of these Egytian Tortoises was very poor due to the transportation method and their small size, the Libyan national was arrested and charged with illegal trade and cruelty to animals. The tortoises will be moved to a specialised zoo in Napoli. The law bans the trade in tortoises that are between 10 - 15 cm.

Although this article mention that the law in Europe bans the trade in Tortoises that are between 10 - 15 centimeter, this is actually wrong as trade in the Libyan/Egyptian tortoises is completely banned due to the rarity of this reptile.

An advice to any future greedy Libyan smugglers of tortoises:

All legal tortoises of this species and others in Europe are fitted with a Microchip identifying it and includes special details as well, these legal specimen sell for a large amount of money, any tortoises smuggled into Europe will have no microchip and therefore are completely worthless as no dealer would buy them for fear of prosecution and the fact that it is impossible to microchip illegal reptiles and if you are lucky enough to find private collectors willing to buy them of you, they will only offer you a vey small amount of money because they know that these are illegal tortoises and are difficult to sell. So do not waste our wildlife, all you will get is a very heavy fine and imprisonment.

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

Thank You Israel

Beit Hanoun Today

We thank you Israel for killing and injuring scores of Palestinian terrorists, you are making the world a safer place

Monday, 6 November 2006

Short Days

Last week here in Britain we set the clocks back one hour to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) as the days get shorter darkness comes sooner everyday, this is the part that I really dislike about winter, you leave your house in the morning in darkness, when it is time to go back home at 5pm it is pitch black outside, as soon as you get home about 6 it feels the day has ended and just can not be bothered to do anything.
Winter in the UK is very gloomy and does make you feel miserable, no wonder people here are obsessed with the weather, its not that I have a fear of the darkness phobia (Nyctophobia) it just makes you feel tired and want to go to bed even though it is still early.

The only good thing about short days I suppose is when Ramadan used to come during GMT hours, we had much shorter fasting time, we used to break fasting about 3:30pm, that is hardly difficult but now Ramadan is moving and young children will have to suffer long Ramadan days in the future when they are old enough to fast.
We have to wait until March for the clocks to go forward and days to get longer, I can't wait!

Incidentally, talking about phobias I do have some of these, my greatest fears are small enclosed spaces (Claustrophobia) I once went down a tube slide in a Kid's playground with my son and had a panic attacck inside, I laugh about it now but it wasn't funny then!
My other phobia is fear of heights (Acrophobia) although I am usually fine as long as there is a fence or something that would prevent me from falling.
There are many recognised phobias some of them are just ridiculous but they are frightening to some people. like fear of washing! or fear of gold! (I bet not many fear gold in Libya).
Find a LIST here with all of the recognised phobias. Is yours there?
It would be intersting for some of you to share their phobias and their scary moments or embarrassing situations when they had to go through a panic attack because of phobias.

Sunday, 5 November 2006

Remember...Remember...the 5th of November...

Britain today celebrates the 5th of November which is called Guy Fawkes night or Bonfire night, this day commemorates the day in 1605 when Guy Fawkes plotted alongside other men to blow up the Houses of Parliament using barrels of gun powder.

Guy Fawkes and his followers were Catholics and wanted to assassinate the Protestant King James I who was prosecuting the Catholics at that time.

The King learnt of the plot and ordered his troops to stop the conspirators.
Guy Fawkes was caught on the morning of November 5th, he was tortured then executed.

On the night of November 5th 1605, bonfires were lit to celebrate the safety of the king, since that day November the 5th has become known as Bonfire Night and every year is celebrated with displays of fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire.

This is where the saying "Remember Remember the 5th of November comes from.

Most major parks & fields in the UK will have their bonfire and fireworks display this evening, many people will have a private fireworks night in their back gardens to celebrate what nearly became probably the nearest that England came to becoming a republic.
Usually many accidents are reported due to injuries from fireworks or bonfires but that never stops people from enjoying this noisy night.

So if you are planning to go to one of these displays then wrap up warm and have a safe and enjoyable evening.