A Depiction

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A Palestine-inspired painting that I painted and gifted to my father.

News channels, newspapers, Twitter and other social media platforms have been busy. Nothing unusual. Media is always busy with the usual stuff – feeds of similar story lines and repetitive political gossip, or an overload of one specific story over another – depending on what draws the most human attention (or hopefully conscience) and ignites the curiosity of certain media-addicted sedentary masses. Some is undoubtedly interesting, some heartbreaking, and others sheer comedy. Most of it is (controversially-speaking) clever and entertaining, not necessarily worth following.

However, a particular media feed this week caught my attention. It is of great importance to me – firstly as a human being, and secondly as an Arab.  As most of you are aware, this week – 2nd of November to be exact – marks 100 years since The Balfour Declaration in 1917. The Declaration that had impacted millions of Palestinian lives, determining the destiny of my father’s generation, my generation, and my nieces’ generation and probably the unborn generations yet to come.

A few years after The Balfour Declaration, my father was born. Not long after that, Palestinian families were forced to leave Palestine and live in exile (most left by force and others by choice – justified by fear, by desperation and in pursuit of life preservation). They left not knowing it would be their last sacred glimpse of their holy land – the land which generously gave to their ancestors. Not knowing it would be their last traditional meal together around their generous Palestinian table in their Palestinian home, where their childhood spirit came into being, and (I guarantee) still lurks, undefeated. Not knowing their house key would never again find its keyhole. Not knowing they would be robbed of their lawful right ‘The Right of Return’. And somewhere in the midst of the ‘Not Knowing’, Palestinian homes were destroyed. Lives were stolen.  Thousands became refugees, the thousands doubled and tripled until millions became displaced. All in a span of 100 years.

I painted this simple yet special painting eight years ago and gifted it to my father. It depicts the hardship of Palestinian life through the eyes of an old worn-out Palestinian man, broken by tragedies yet strong and living. His white and black كوفية (a traditional gender-neutral scarf pronounced Koofiyyeh) represents his Palestinian pride. The Palestinian flag colours in the background including the Koofiyyeh’s white (which also happen to be the UAE’s flag colours) represent his determination and hope. I hung the painting on my father’s office wall in his Dubai home (he had no choice in the matter!) and said to him, ‘I painted this for you baba so you will always remember Palestine, and me’. The look he returned with his eyes revealed all.

Shine

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My Father. The best human being I have ever known and will ever know.

I am Palestine
I wait in line
I yearn and pine
I seek a sign
I count on time
I leave behind
All that is mine
Except my dignity
Despite captivity
Except my pride
Despite your tyranny
Except my wealth
Which is my mind
I have my Self
A saviour in itself.

I am Palestine
I am fine
In time
I shall shine.

I am Palestine
I am stranded
A desolate island
Melancholic and silent
Stranger here
Stranger there
Everywhere
A burden
I am almost certain.

I am Palestine
I long for connection
Some human affection
No attention
Only detention
Sanction after sanction
No remorse
Only chores
And bolted doors
No harmony
Only fatality
No tranquility
Only hostility
No equality
Nor eligibility
Only agony
Where is sanity?
I am alchemy
The begetter of unity
I shall breed humanity.

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My Life is Real

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A Taste of Gaucho Culture, Estancia Los Patos, Argentina

My life is real.
Its essence I feel
I travel a great deal.

I seek and heal
Experience and reveal
All that is surreal
I have nothing to conceal
Not my curiosity
Nor my zeal
No apology
For my independence
For my candidness
Only to God, I kneel.

In every foreign place
I find novelty and grace
In every little street
Despite my tired feet
I walk and greet
Locals I meet.

During such encounters
And racing hours
I receive
An introduction
To tradition
I merge with culture
Demand disclosure
And embrace exposure.

In far away lands
Under moonlit skies
Despite my sleepy eyes
I see shimmering stars
Written memoirs
Of beautiful spirits.

When mornings come
And birds hum
I walk in nature
No longer a stranger
Acre after acre
Of exquisiteness
I thank my Creator
I bow to my Maker
For this magnificence.

My life is real
Its essence I feel
I travel a great deal.

What vileness he thinks
And ill she speaks
Of my travels and bills
Of my passions and thrills
Brush the top of these hideous hills
In whose valleys everyone sleeps
Where no one wills
And stillness kills.

I’m onto something
In my wandering and writing
Despite the foulness
That sometimes reeks
And the belittling
That oftentimes squeaks
Envy that peaks
And judgment that leaks
Your vulgar style
So bile and juvenile.

I’m onto something
Despite lonely elves
Stuck at the bottom of wells
Living in hell
Hiding it well
And foolish freaks
With spiteful tongues
And ugly beaks.

Despite this ordeal
I reiterate
My life is real.

By Razan Abdul Majeed

Altamira Love

August 10, 2017 (Santillana del Mar, Spain)

Where I stayed in Santillana Del Mar – Altamira hotel. One of tradition and history. The one with the tiny room and window and slanted ceiling yet it warmed my heart. Small but spacious. Simple but stylish. Cosy not showy. Spanish and serene. Satisfied.

A Posada in Noja

August 7, 2019

I finally get to experience a bit of hotel character and some tradition (merged with modernity)! This is a posada – a type of accommodation in Spain. Posadas tend to be located along old routes across Spain. Or in small towns. In a way, a posada is equivalent of an old English country inn.

 

The Drink of Gods

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Me drinking Mate, Patagonia (Torres del Paine), Chile, 2014

See that cup I’m holding? 

Inside is what indigenous South Americans call the drink of gods! 
A few sips and you will experience the stimulus of coffee and the euphoria of chocolate (with tea health benefits!). I remember it had a strange bitter taste but for some reason I kept wanting more. Maybe it was the sacred tradition behind it. Maybe it was the way it was served, and the way it was shared between friends. I remember humility surrounding us. Or maybe it was that particular day in that particular photo when Patagonia’s trademark wind (the strongest you’ll every experience) was dancing around us, romanticising my very first tasting experience. 
AAnyway, I fell in love.


It’s a traditional drink in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil and it is quite common in parts of Chile and Bolivia. What I didn’t know but do now is that it can also be found in this part of the world – Lebanon and Syria! In abundance too! MATE.

Contents:Mateine (an analog of caffeine), made by an infusion of dried leaves of yerba mate.

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Patagonia’s very common, moody and crazy wind. Adds to its charm and beauty. See that photo? A windy moment while we were all trying to find our balance for that photo! Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile, 2014