Friday, 29 June 2007

Monkey Business!

I woke up this morning to the disturbing news that a massive car bomb had been found and made safe by the police at 2am this morning in Haymarket which is in the heart of London, as I am writing this most of central London is closed to traffic including Piccadilly circus, Haymarket & Shaftsbury Avenue. London has been subjected to this type of terror attack (car bombs) many times in the past during the IRA terror campaign but as I am sure many would agree, I do not think its the IRA this time as the terror threat for the past few years has been from a different mad group, I will not speculate until more news is released but there will not be a surprise there. Alhamdulellah that the plot was foiled, imagine if that car bomb went off in that area which is always busy, the devastation to buildings and people would have been massive.


I took the kids to watch Shrek the Third which is number 3 in the Shrek movie series, it was good fun and the graphics are better than ever, I am glad as well that my favourite character in the Shrek films was there, it is of course the cute Ginger Bread Man :o)

We enjoyed it even though it was a short film!

Yesterday I had a discussion with friends about Monkeys and Humans! it happened after watching a program on TV to do with Big Brother , a question was asked to someone, Would you rather be a monkey with a human brain or a human with a monkey brain? (no offence meant here) I was with English & Scottish friends so religion did not come into the conversation, it was a difficult question a bit like who came first, the chicken or the egg?? but I decided that I would rather be a monkey with a human brain than the other way round! my reasons being, if I was a human with a monkey brain then what is the use, I would be hanging from trees, eating bananas all day long, messing myself and just living like an animal on the other hand if I am a monkey with a human brain then at least I can think and do things better, probably even become a big hit with the monkeys :o) my friends chose to be humans with monkey brains perhaps because they already do have monkey brains :oD


Finally back to the main headline news in the UK now, no not the car bomb or the death of 3 British soldiers in Iraq, not even the new Prime Minister forming his new cabinet, of course its the reforming of the girls music group, the Spice Girls! who announced their come back international tour at the end of the year! of course they invented the miss used term Girl Power which unfortunately has been used wrongly by many females around the world, girl power is not beating up men, girl power is not dressing up like the spice girls did which was copied by even little 5 or 6 year old girls. Girl Power is respect and proving that women are as good and equal to men when it comes to education, work and controlling your life.

This reminds me, every time I see a picture of Victoria Beckham, I think of a hospital feeding drip, I wonder why??

So.... when you're feeling sad & low

they will take you where you gotta go ....... :oD

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Al-Burj Restaurant, Tripoli

When I saw the following pictures, I could not believe that they were of what used to be one of the most elegant restaurants in Tripoli, Al-Burj (The Tower) Restaurant in Hai Al-Andalus!

I do remember the place many years ago and remember that it used to be hired out as a wedding hall, I remember taking my mother there to attend a wedding and I remember all the elegant gift & toy shops that used to be on the lower level.

Look at it now!! a disgusting filthy place in what is supposed to be a smart area of Tripoli, I am sure vermin including rats live among the filth there.

Shame I do not have any pictures of what it used to look like, as for the miniture Eiffel Tower that used to stand proudly outside the restaurant, well it is gone.

What I found unbelievable is the fact that there are offices operating in that building! people actually work there including a number of Libyan women, they have to walk amongst the dirt and probably fight with rats to get to their desks and these offices are open to the general public who have to use them as these offices belong to the government where you need to get approval for what ever you are trying to do, مكتب المؤتمر الشعبي الاساسي فرع حي الاندلس

I know that people have no choice on where they work but would anyone like their sister or mother to work in a place like this? I doubt it very much. and we are supposed to be proud of our oil rich country, great! I dont think that Dubai has to fear the competition, Libya is not yet that modern, is it?

A New Day, A New Prime Minister

Today here in Britain we get a new Prime Minister, a new chapter, perhaps new policies, we shall see. A big welcome to the new Scottish born Prime Minister: Gordon Brown.

Tony Blair leaves Downing Street today after more than 10 years as the Prime Minister, he had done his bit for this country, Britain has benefited a lot from his leadership, you only have to look around London/UK to see how the country has improved and progressed but unfortunately his leaving legacy and memorial will always be involving Britain in IRAQ something that the majority of the British public opposed and stood against.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Hammamet Part 2

Sunday 17 June started with a surprise for me, it was Father's Day in Britain and the kids got me presents and kept them in their bags, I got a card, a mug and a T-shirt, lovely :o)
as far as I remember poor fathers do not get a Father's Day in Libya!

That evening we went to Hammamet Yasmine which is a newly built village for tourists, it is full of luxury hotels and apartment buildings, a Theme Park called Carthage Land and my favourite which is a life size Old City replica built in beautiful details to look old, it is massive and includes many narrow shopping lanes, cafes and restaurants.

We took the kids to Carthage Land to play and was confronted with the same problem I found there 3 years ago, most rides are for children over 8 years old with very few rides for the younger children that my kids refused to get in as these rides were really for toddlers, I spoke to people working there that it was not fair to prevent youngsters who paid from playing and mentioned the fact that in the UK, most theme parks allow kids in bigger rides as long as a parent is present, they insisted it was a safety issue which they could not understand either but since the park was not busy they kindly allowed the kids to enjoy everything, we even stayed on rides for as many times as we wanted, I thank them for that.

They had 2 tigers and 2 lions in another cage inside Carthage Land but unfortunately the cages looked very small, had no proper outdoor area and really stunk, I felt sorry for the animals.

Camels were in the old city for the benefit of tourists

The replica Old City looking good at night

Back to our roots! our first time ever on a Camel :o)

Cute baby Camel

real life size elephants greet you at the entrance of the tourists city

Cute Baby Fennec Fox, these foxes are a native of North Africa and are very rare, I have written about them Here , while this little fox looked very clean and had a little mattress to sleep on, it did seem very floppy/sleepy even though it was night time and they are nocturnal, I wonder if it was drugged!!

The same man with the fox had an Owl as well, he looked very scary, I gave him some money after I took pictures of his animals, I didn't want him to put a curse on me :oS

More cute kittens, we played with them for a while, they had water and food placed near the entrance to their home.

Madeleine's picture was there in our hotel and many other places as well, I wonder how many missing Tunisian kids get their pictures plastered all over the place??
The journey back home was very tiring and again started with the custom man who was quite smiley but still subjected us to the long delay, father's name and computer clicking for about 15 minutes, he even asked me if I do go back to Libya, I told him that I do not wish to answer this question. As soon as he let us go, another customs officer came to me and asked me for my passport, I got very angry but kept calm, I told him I had just been subjected to that few minutes ago then I asked him why they were treating us like that? he looked angry and asked me what I meant, I told him that all the Europeans were passing no questions asked, even the single men, yet we are a family and got stopped twice in few minutes, he said he wanted to know if I had any Tunisian currency, I told him I have non and maybe he should ask some of the others the same question then I said that I like coming here for a holiday but this treatment just because we are the only non European people on this flight will make me think twice about coming here again, he almost threw the passports at me and went off looking very angry.

Well apart from the silly action of the custom officers, it was Alhamdulellah a lovely holiday and I hope inshaAllah to repeat it again and again.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Hammamet Part 1

The trip started with a delay of 2 hours at Gatwick Airport in London which was annoying as it was a night flight, any way so we arrived at Monastir airport after 2am Tunisian time, going through customs I knew I was going to be treated suspiciously, the same was done when I visited Tunisia 3 years ago, the same happened in Egypt & Jordon, if you carry a British passport and you are of Arab/Middle eastern origin then you are a suspect for some reason! the Que in front of me was moving so quick as everyone was a European, I felt sorry for the people behind me because I knew they were going to be delayed.
The custom officer looked at me and my family, looked at the passports then asked me what nationality I was, I told him British as the passport says, he wanted to know where from originally, I said I was originally Libyan, he started clicking away on his computer for about 5 minutes then looked at me and said what is your father's name? I thought I would test him so I gave him a wrong name, he started clicking away for another 5 minutes, he asked the same of my wife and her father's name, she gave the correct name, still too many clicks, then he asked what my kids father's name was, I was amazed! I said obviously its my name, any way after about 20 minutes of completely useless clicking on his precious computer he let us enter, of course the same procedure happened on leaving Tunisia but that is another story.

We caught the coach which took another 90 minutes to get to Hammamet, arriving there about 4 am, checked in, we were given good sized suite with 2 huge bedrooms and a bathroom.
After a short sleep, the kids were awake and very looking forward to the beach, after breakfast we went straight to the hotel's beach which was only a few minutes away.

kids still looking light skinned

a dying Jelly Fish at the beach, a bit worrying!

The beach was not very busy as the holiday season hadn't started yet, it was very clean, the water was clean & cold but the weather was quite hot. Many people pass through the beach trying to sell you tourists junk, food & fruits but never aggressively, if you say no then they leave you with a smile. The best surprise for me at the beach was a small stand selling SFINZ advertised as Donuts, I forgot what they called it but its exactly the same size as you get in Libya with the same taste, we had Sfinz everyday at mid morning.

In the afternoon the kids wanted to go to the swimming pool which again was very clean and not very busy, my kids love swimming too much that every day they start about 9 or 10 in the morning and carry on swimming until 5 in the afternoon.

The hotel was not very busy, most people there were German, Russian and French with very few English people, in the evenings we go and have dinner at the hotel which is served Buffet style, while there was plenty of choice it wasn't actually that good, sort of tasted like mass market food :o)

The head waiter took a shine to Amir because he has a son called Amir as well, he was a lovely man that took care of us at breakfast & dinner time, he never stopped fussing over us in a very friendly way, he even told us some secrets as how the Russians (men & women) usually eat a massive amount of food, more than anyone else, he think its because they get cheap package holidays here where they can have a lot of food which is usually very expensive to eat in Russia. The staff at this hotel were very nice indeed and when ever they found out that we are Libyan they always became extra nice but saying that, the Reception staff were quite grumpy and most of the time they don't even return Salams, the guy working at the money change desk was such a miserable git that I stopped saying hello to him because he always ignored me but funnily enough he would say hello with a big smile to any one else that was European looking, you get this type of person every where.

The next day (Friday) we decided to go to Nabul which is a small city about 10 miles away, they have a market there every Friday,we took a taxi and arrived early yet it was heaving with tourists and locals walking through the market.

In Hammamet I only ever saw 1 mosque but as you enter Nabul you notice that mosques are every where, the market is well stocked with pottery and leather goods, some of it can be very nice but its a shame because buying pottery then trying to bring it back to London is not practical because of weight restriction.

Of course I knew tortoises would be offered for sale at this market as I have been there before, these are Tunisian tortoises which are of similar size to the Libyan/Egyptian tortoises. They are rare and their sale is illegal in Tunisia, in fact sellers hide them very quickly if they see a policeman. They were being sold for few Dinars, the problem again here is that these tortoises need special care in Europe where they do sell for a large amount of money, many tourists buy them then smuggle them to their countries where they usually die after a short period.

It was a very hot day so finding cool shade inside the old market was very welcome, the major problem I found in Tunisia was the continuous hassle you get from market sellers, they continuously hound you with every language on this earth to come in and look at their products which to me I find very annoying and actually puts me off buying anything from them, saying that, you never actually feel unsafe or threatened in anyway as in some other countries, Tunisian tend to leave you alone if you say no firmly.

Above you can see 2 cats asleep in these big pottery dishes, cats are everywhere in Tunisia, many of them are stray cats but the good thing is that most of them are cared for by the people in markets or even in streets and old cities you find little dishes of water and bits of food next to the water. cute playful kittens were everywhere, the kids just kept playing with them.

After I took this picture of Aida, we stood in the shade by a post office, next to it was a public toilet, an old Tunisian woman was standing outside dressed in a cleaner uniform, she was the attendant, I didn't go inside but from the door I could see that the toilets seemed clean, a German couple went in the separate toilets, when they came out, the woman attendant put her hand out to them which is usual anywhere to pay the attendants, both tourists looked at her then just walked away, she chased them speaking in Arabic, they almost ran off, she ran after them while shouting and swearing ينعن بوك وبو الي جابكم لي هالبر (God damn your father and the father of who ever brought you to this shore), I laughed so much as I havent heard this sort of swearing in a long time and thought serve those tourists who now looked very scared right for being so mean :o)
The market was full of fake designer goods from Rolex watches, I bought one for 15 Dinars which I probably would never wear, I just wanted one, to Prada sunglasses, Gucci handbags and Versace wallets and belts, the leather fake goods were actually well made with real leather and everything sold for small amount of money but I suppose buying the stuff to wear, you know deep down that you are wearing fake stuff! although I couldn't help but buy a Fake Ray Ban sunglasses, they look great :o)
In the afternoon we went back to the hotel, it was very hot and just stayed most of the time at the beach.

In the morning we went to visit Hammamet old city which is described as the best preserved old city in north Africa.
The place was breath taking, so beautiful and very clean, people still live inside the tiny streets, many shops for tourists are every where inside the old city and sometimes it gets difficult trying to walk and not step on the goods that are displayed on the floor of the narrow streets.
The old city is quite small compared to Tripoli's old city but I bet it is much better preserved and looked after, I wish some people would take notice of how proud Tunisians are of their country.
We got lost walking inside but not once felt threatened, eventually after asking few people we found the way out.

Here they had a house offered for sale, I really wished I could buy it, you can see how clean the place is.

Outside the old city, you can see a pirate ship in the back ground, there are many of these ships sailing around the shore, at the hotel this poor guy was trying to sell me tickets to go on a mini cruise everyday but I kept refusing, he just never gave up but neither did I. The problem was you pay for a mini cruise and you get all drinks and snacks included, I saw some pictures and while the tourists looked happy and having a good time I felt it was not for us as all Alcoholic drinks were free on board and tourists took advantage of that, anyway good luck to them but it was not appropriate for us.
I have more pictures and stories to tell but that's for another day as I have to get back to work now :o)

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Back From Holiday

I am back from beautiful Hammamet, we arrived home at 4:15 in the morning after a very long journey even though Tunisia is only about 3 hours away by plane but when you add airport journey times and so on, it takes about 12 hours! Yes I am itching ( English itching, not Jbalai itching ya Lebeeya lol) to check all blogs and upload photos but I have to sort out few things like food shopping etc...
I will update on journey with its ups & downs but in general we were treated extra well by the Tunisian people who were very friendly and helpful, maybe their customs at the airport need to learn this from their own people.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Proud Community

I am taking a 1 week holiday leave as from tomorrow from work and will be spending that time with my family, I have decided to take my kids out of school for a week since they are still young and this should not interfere with their schooling too much but the main reason is that all holiday firms in this country (others as well) usually double their prices once schools close for the summer holidays so it is much easier for me and cheaper to take them on a short holiday now.

recently Libyan bloggers and non Libyans that are associated with this community have had to cope with some bad news and yet all of us have shown how much we do care about each other even though the majority of us have never met but it was so heart worming to see all the concerned comments to Lebeeya and the people of Oman after the dreadful hurricane and to their safety, we all wished Happymoi, Piccolina and others well in their exams but what has been most difficult is the news about the son of Trabilsia (check Khadija Teri's Blog Here) who was seriously injured in a car crash, already many bloggers have offered their good wishes for a speedy recovery inshaAllah which I am sure will be comforting to Trabilsia.
All I can say is that I am proud of all of us, we may have differences, we may live very far from each other but we do all care :o)

I do not think that I will be blogging for the next week or so as I will be travelling with the family, so I wish you all a nice and peaceful week and I will be checking on all my favourite blogs as soon as possible and inshaAllah I will have plenty of pictures and updates soon.

Friday, 8 June 2007

The Angry Sheikh

Today I decided to walk to Yousef Islam's hotel to attend the Friday prayers after last Friday's trouble finding a parking space, I walked with a colleague of mine, the weather was quite nice, when we got there the sermon had already started, it was given by an Afro-American man, a very angry man! he had some good points like why the women section was so small when there was enough space for a bigger section, he mentioned how mosques should be cleaner and more tidy but then he started to talk (I am sorry to say) Crap!, first of all his sermon continued well after 2pm when many people in there have to go back to their work, then he said that we all should turn up early to the hotel, pick up the rubbish, scrub the windows, tidy the garden and vacuum the carpet! I mean that might be OK if we didn't have other jobs and can afford to be there longer than our lunch hour, on the other hand while I believe the worshipers have a responsibility towards keeping a mosque clean but in the first place when people decide to open a mosque then they should organise the day to day running of the place, the cleaning and so on but unfortunately it seems here people open mosques and just keep on collection money but they don't do much when it comes to looking after the place and for this Sheilkh to try and tell us that we should do it, well I would like to see him polishing the windows first.
He then made a remark that I found very offensive, he had ago at Arabs in general which I can understand except not the way he said it, these are his exact words: "ALL young Arab men go out and play football while ALL older Arab men have big stomachs and do nothing but sit at home watching Al-Jazeera TV".
Yes he is right to a point but to say all, I found very offensive and I actually shouted back at him and said "no not all brother" everyone turned back and looked at me, some even smiled at me, the Sheikh ignored me of course. I mean what about the young & old Arab men that are continuously killed by Israeli soldiers just because they are fighting for their land, what about Arab men that defended Lebanon and other countries too? are we completely written off now and become a laughing stock even by other Muslims?
This Sheikh should know better than generalising his views, I mean how would he like it if some one said in a sermon that all black men are drug dealers? (which of course is not true) wouldn't that be very offensive? I feel I was right to feel angry.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Diamond Skull

The teeth are real human teeth!

This is the diamond encrosted skull created by the famous English artist Damien Hirst, it is a life size skull made with platinum which was covered with 8,601 precious diamonds weighing a total of 1,106.18 carats.
If you are wondering about the price of the skull! well it is a mere £50 million pounds or $100 million dollars. Ya Ballash!

For pictures showing in details how the skull was made, click Here

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Arabic Gift

I dedicate these 10 Roses to everyone, please read the beautiful words, it is all in Arabic but I suggest you ask someone to translate it for you if you do not understand Arabic... Enjoy.....

Monday, 4 June 2007

A Brief Encounter

Sunday was a very hot day here in London yet it was a non stop day for me, it started by taking Amir to have a hair cut in the morning then off for the weekly shopping at Tesco which gets very busy on a Sunday then back home. The kids wanted to ride their bikes and it was too hot to go to the park so I let them do that on the pavement outside the house and nearly broke my back (again) helping them.

In the evening I knew I had to look after Amir as Aida & her mum usually go to the Muslim women swimming club but I got a phone call from mani telling that he is leaving to go to Libya Monday morning and was coming to London in the evening to stay the night with Ahmed (a_akak) my apology to all the bloggers in London that wanted to meet (sorry Ghazi, Beacon & Hibo) as I had a very short notice to meet mani. I had promised Amir to take him to the park to ride his bike so after dropping Aida & mum at the sports centre I took for a quick ride in the park

I asked mani if I could send something with him to Libya to which he kindly said yes and since it was a Sunday all shops close early so I thought before I go and meet him in Marylebone Train Station to go to Whiteleys Shopping Centre which tends to open slightly longer on a Sunday, I only had an hour to do that, of course I couldn't get a parking space near by but I found one about 10 minutes walk away, I parked and dragged Amir along to the shops, we got inside the shop, saw what I wanted put my hand in my back pocket, oh no, no wallet! of course being a hot day, I left my wallet in my jacket in the boot of the car so back we went to the car and Amir told me he wished he brought his Heelys, I wish he did, got the wallet, rushed back to the shop, it was closed.

We went to Queensway where there are many shops open but most of them are tacky souvenir shops but I had no choice so I got something rushed back to the car again and off to the Train station, luckily the train was a bit late and we got there in time. Mani came out with his big beaming smile and the first thing I noticed is how healthy he looked (MashaAllah) he had put on some weight thanks to his mum's cooking :o)
Few minutes later Ahmed arrived and we walked to Baker Street where we had a nice coffee at Costa and Amir had an ice cream, about 30 minutes later I had to make my excuses as it was getting well past Amir's bed time, I said my good byes to both mani & Ahmed and drove back home feeling exhausted after a long day of driving and running around but it was a good day.
Best of luck to mani inshaAllah and I hope all goes well for him in Libya.