A day in London: Chapter 2

So I decided to head back to Paddington station as there is nothing to do outside! I headed to the information center planning to ask the guy where should I go here in London… sounds so tourist, right? So while waiting for my turn to come, I saw a miracle! the Tube map with all colored veins that are screaming for you to come and explore :D and the guy was nice enough to advise me to buy the one-day traveler ticket to roam around the tube the whole day :D

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Baker Street: Sherlock Holmes Museum

The moment I traced the brown tube to Baker street, I got that Eureca moment! what is better than my beloved Sherlock to go and visit in London!

Hopped off the tube, traced every single mark that promised to lead to Sherlock Holmes Museum. The moment I got off the station, I saw this magnificent sign! almost cried of happiness this time!

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I found myself running afterwards following the signs, heart beats very fast, all the books and the movies I watched are finally manifesting in front of me.

And finally I’m there, not believing that one of my childhood/adult dreams is finally becoming true! happiness comes in many form, and the best, when you are not expecting it!

Sherlock Holmes Souvenir shop

Yup, I bet you I spent money here like crazy, if I had enough cash on hand, I might ended buying half the shop!

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And of course, I bought the ticket “The Sherlock Holmes Museum” for the house tour.

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Sherlock Holmes House Tour

Now, the house is a 3-story building with an attic, each floor describes part of Sherlock’s life. From his bedroom, to the living room, to different murder cases meeting vast amount of characters you saw/read about. An amazing experience that if you are a Sherlock Holmes fan (Sherlocked by definition), this is a must place to visit.

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Where the magic happens!

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This is the amazing part, where you meet a wax-made characters and guess what! I had a selfie with Moriarty :D

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and finally… the attic where all the relaxation happened :P

It was a hell of an experience, I’ve gotta say… this adventure was the reason I’ve ended up roaming around London instead of heading back from where I came :)

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A day in London: Chapter 1

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OK… so it started when I went to visit one of our clients in Cardiff, Wales in December 2014 for 2 weeks. I kept waiting for the first weekend to come to jump on the first train in the morning to finally spend sometime in my beloved city: LONDON.

On Friday night, I went to the central train station in Cardiff to buy the tickets to London, was so excited and anxious in the same time and guess what! it costs £72! but well.. it worth it that all I was thinking about!

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And of course! I made sure my SIM card is working and having extra bytes just in case and all was ready for London early in the morning!

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It is always nice to be at Paddington station, it is always live and you can’t figure out if it is day or night. Everyone is moving, everyone on the run and you can’t deny the temptation to go and check one of these train time travel screens from around the place. So here we are at the middle of Paddington station and guess what… my internet is not working! O_o

Yup, I almost had a heart attack. So by quickly thinking I thought, well, let me get out of the station and get out and see the places outside, I would definitely figure things out. So I started to walk around the station area.

After a while of walking, I felt lost! the clock is ticking and I’m thinking, I don’t want to waste my time lost! I need to get back to Cardiff before the night falls down and I don’t know where the hell I am!

I found a Costa Cafe, so decided to sit down and think what the hell I did to myself! I was torn apart between the £72 I spent to reach London and the f**ked up situation I put myself in! I almost cried in the middle of the cafe!

To be continued…

A year from around the world!

I gotta say, last year between October 2014 and October 2015 I had the most fun and wonderful time in my life! it was travel time through which I had the chance to experience traveling, meeting new people to trying new food, seeing new places and most important: discovering my own self!

ahRzfmd1YXJkaWFuLXdvcmxkLW1hcHJMCxIGcG9pbnRzIkA3NTkxQTJDQzZBQkFBMDk2MUU0MDJFQzRBM0QzQ0Y2NDM5N0M5QjcxNDlBOEEyNzUxN0E3NkMzMjNFRDdBODdEDAThese memories reflects the craziest and truthful times I’ve been through. From almost cryin’ at Paddington station knowing no where to go to cruising Charles river in a bus! 2016 lets see what new adventures you are hiding to me :)

So here are some of last year’s adventures:

 

Dear my mentor, Izetbegovic 1

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Beside my dad, I don’t think that I ever had a living mentor, even the word mentor never came to my mind until I had to describe their influence on my way of thinking. Of those that I’m proud to call my mentors are Alija Ali Izetbegovic, Abu Hamid Al Ghazali and Malik ben Nabi. Why these among millions and millions of scholars and thinkers, I only can say that this is the well of God.

My dear mentor Alija Ali Izetbegovic,

I recall that one day you said in your book “Notes from prison”, that the blue sky in day light is beautiful, why do we need the night with its darkness? Then after thinking you said, we need the darkness in order to see the beautiful lightening stars. I always smile whenever I remember this, as a big admirer and fan of art, I’m always fascinated with such expressions but at the same time it draws my attention to why we as humans have a dark side too!

Each one of us has his good and bad, his ups and downs and that’s a bless in a sense that we tend to value and maintain high standards and morals. We tend to be perfectionists and idealists all the time and the result is becoming more disappointed and depressed of this imperfect and immoral world. However, in your book “Islam between East and West” you explained how our imperfection is perfection in its own. We are not angles who don’t makes mistakes all the time, and we are not daemons that do mistakes all the time but we are humans who do right and wrong and align with our nature of making mistakes and pursuing doing the right thing all the time.

However my mentor, trying to do the right thing all the time is really tiring, you end up caught up in the middle between your nagging never-stop-hyper-thinking super ego as Freud discussed, and your desires and needs (Id) and this poor ego -that is trying to please both sides and accommodate both of them- is thinking to kill himself. I reached to a conclusion my mentor that achieving balance between both of these is a mission impossible, to balance this inner and outer aspects of yourself your identity is rather complicated than a thing that goes with my nature. Nonetheless, the integration between these two is what makes me human. A human being who do mistakes along the way and try to purify himself as well in the same passion. A human being who accepts himself with all his odds and hence accept others as they are the same as he is. A human being who is less judgmental, more understanding and have empathy for everyone around.

Auguste Perret once said “Architecture is what makes the ruins beautiful”! as a man of choice, you choose what to see and what truth to believe, ruins for some are only ruins but for others what gives this dead thing a meaning is Architecture. How we choose to interpret our surrounding is what makes us humans. Any act that tries dehumanizing me by telling me this is the truth without allowing me to think about it is inhuman. Standing for my opinions and taking responsibilities of my actions is what makes me human; any act that tries to free me from this obligation towards myself and others and prevents me from struggling to stand for my own responsibilities is inhuman even if the intention was for the good of me.

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But my mentor, what gives this struggle a meaning, what makes the actions of these humans who are contesting this world order a value? In today’s context, anything that is not rewarding or done out of interest is considered a failure, a big one. Those who are on hunger strike inside prisons like Shaikh Khader Adnan, what do they gain besides their own suffering and health issues, a couple of hash tags and profile pictures change on social media? If you asked them, they will always say I will do it again and again and again! What makes this guy raise his voice in solidarity with someone somewhere else in the world that might never gonna be heard stand with a big smile on his face, Alone!! Drama is what makes us humans!

To be continued…

Morality, Norms and after midnight hallucinations!

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It’s been a while when I started the search for the Morality question that lead me in a way or another to norms. As a starter, it was hard for me to accept that right and wrong can be subjective, relative and contextualized. That Einstein’s relativity law can be applied to something like morals! Or as Roger Scruton says: “In argument about moral problems, relativism is the first refuge of the scoundrel.

In the ancient Greek methodology, Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter to Artemis in order to allow his ships to sail to Troy. A man would throw himself into fire to rescue a child or a cat, or more common in our context, an activist would defy the authorities and go against all odds for an idea or a principle he believes in and think it is right! Can such acts be analyzed using reason!

Voltaire said “I hate what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. One would argue that the society is built on the self-interest of individual people, that social norms is that silent code of conduct that everyone agrees to as long as it is aligned with their interests. That this collective good is made sometimes against self-interest but with the illusion that it was made for the major good, or based on Bentham’s utilitarianism that based on the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong.

Now is this utilitarianism or the collective good is the right and moral thing? Back to the relativism question, this collective good can never have a full consensus from people not to mention that it will not always reflect the interest of the majority. The history is filled with stories about how this can be imposed by certain authorities like the communists who valued the police state and controlled every aspect of their people’s lives or when they creating the individual infallible leader image that was imitated by our Arab countries! The imperialists who invaded other countries and conquered it by force and violence under the name of spreading democracy and social justice! To name less of course.

In Dostoyevsky’s novel “Crime and Punishment”, was guilt and regret the reason Raskolnikov confessed his murder! Was it his conscience that couldn’t hold the weight of his actions! Was it the delusion of the unusual person that he failed to maintain what made him end up in Siberia! Mere conscience would not lead a moral man to do good, to go against the mind and choose the right thing without any calculations. It is what makes violent murderers in jails maintain high values and morals where they can’t betray each other’s trust and be courageous and never cheat!

So talking about moral obligation, what makes us do right things, sacrifice and go against reason and mere logic! Is it our selfishness, the need to be perfect, to achieve self-values and idealizations? Henri Bergson starts his argument with “Why did we obey?” rather than “Why should we obey? According to him one source of moral obligation is social pressure and therefore, social morality is at best is a pressure!

I do believe that Morals are an internal act as Ali Izzat Bigovic stated in his book “Islam between East and West” and I would disagree with John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism that argues that morality has two sources that are internal from what is called “conscience” or “super ego” or “Nafs ul Lawwaama” or from being raised in a high moral family and an external act that is enforced by law. Was Bergson correct at least with that assumption? I believe as Bigovic said that enforcement is against freedom and freedom is an essential part of morality. Without freedom there is no moral act, it’s just a social code of conduct and traditions that been practiced over the years and formed our culture.

So the question is still up, what defines moral acts, what gives it its virtue and collective consensus that is the right thing to do! To be continued in another hallucinations!

Politics and technology: An Interplay

Internet Highway

It might sound funny to say that I was not surprised by anything I read so far in terms of Astra’s book The people platform” or “New noise” by Simon Lindgren. For a tech-savvy myself, I might fall under the third way umbrella that approached the internet with a careful skepticism and neither fall under utopian cheerleaders and techno-evangelists nor dystopian doomsday’s fans and technophobia’s.

In his book “The shallows: what the internet is doing to our brain”, Nicholas Carr is not denying the positive and powerful role technology is playing in our lives, however, in this era where many people started to develop some forms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), he argues neuroplasticity, a concept that is related to how our brains rewires itself in response to stimulation it encounters. In this world, where anyone with a keyboard and internet connection can publish and share anything through a click, where the highest mental activity performed is searching Google for answers, one should pause and reflect to examine how the internet is reshaping our thinking and hence our lives.

In recent years, it’s no longer the internet that is the focus of debates between supporters and skeptics but rather social media with its huge impact where the medium now matters more than the content itself. Marshall McLuhan says “The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinions or concepts; rather, they alter patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance”. Recently, two major incidents fired up social media and specially twitter, Charlie Hibdo and Chapell Hill shooting. Anyone with a brain in her head can see how media played a big role in labeling the first incident as a hate crime and a terrorist attack and the second as a dispute over a parking lot. In both cases, people were killed; the act of killing was condemned but the aftermath of each incident varied based on how these media decided to drive people’s attention and shape their response. Is the cyberspace still argued to be an egalitarian sphere?! I just wonder.

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Who is better than ISIS to understand the role the social media is playing when it produced its video of burning the Jordanian pilot alive or beheading the Qubtic Egyptians in Libya. The message of fear it aimed to deliver was easily spread using the media because they understood that the attention paid by the media was higher in these cases than the media itself gave to the daily killing and burning of people by Assad regime in Syria, or mass killing by Shi’at in Iraq to Sunni Muslims, etc. In this modern world where violence is deeply rooted in people’s life but denied on the surface, one can’t argue that movies like “Natural born killers” truly depicts how modern societies are and what both Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino did was showing that through a picture!

Its 2015 when I finally decided to buy a smartphone. The idea of being connected all the time with all people haunted me and prevented me from having an internet connection on my mobile. The idea that the internet is this big connected nation where barriers are not there is a lie! Big time. It is not news that today’s man is just half an idea half a man. Trying to run in pace with this rapid development only hindered our own development. Our ignorance of the complication of the online world affected our perception of online freedom, privacy and ability to communicate without being surveilled, judged and analyzed.

When Edward Snowden decided to reveal NSA mass and global surveillance program, he was motivated by I don’t want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity, or love, or friendship is recorded, and that’s not something I’m willing to support, it’s not something I’m willing to build, and it’s not something I’m willing to live under“. His realization that he don’t want to live in an Orwellian society is the reason why we have more awareness of our own privacy and taking protective measures of our activities online. Employing technology itself through cryptography to protect our communication, anonymity, the great and important role played by investigative journalism, hacktivists and whistleblowers to expose atrocities done by our name and against us.

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I might sound a bit technophobic right now, however, without this very technology and its vital importance to media we won’t be standing here right now listening to people like Jeremy Scahill, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras and their digital magazine The Intercept and their wonderful work to analyze Snowden revelations. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! says The media is absolutely essential to the functioning of a democracy. It’s not our job to cozy up to power. We’re supposed to be the check and balance on government.

Nevertheless, the way politics is interwoven with technology as we are seeing is challenging and imposes lots of questions everyday on topics like Net Neutrality, surveillance and freedom of flow of information which is the essence of the internet. Trials and prosecution of Anonymous hackers under poor and ill-defined hacking laws was taken to extreme ruling where a hacker from Texas was charged with 440 years in prison! Journalist Barret Brown was sentenced to 5 years in jail for alleged connections with Anonymous as well. Not to forget to mention Aaron Swartz, Reddit computer activist who took away his life after being charged with 35 years in prison and more than 1 million $ fines. In the US where the espionage act is now woven in the face of journalists, hactivists and whistleblowers to intimidate them and prevent them from exposing corruption and misdeeds of governments, will only encourage people like John Kiriakou the former CIA whistleblower who exposed CIA torture program who said after being freed from jail “I will do it all again”.

Those like Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, Aaron Swartz, John Kiriakou, to name less, whom are showing how technology is really ruling our lives from both perspectives is the ones who will drive change to our lives or as Jeremy Scahill puts it “Real change in our society, regardless of what profession people are in, is going to come from people who have a passion burning so strongly in their heart that they don’t even identify it as work that they’re doing; they identify it as a way of life“.

Along the way to Sweden

Traveling is one of the most enjoyable and extraordinary experiences you have in your life. Sweden has been amazing so far in Lund, Malmo, Landskrona, the people, the place, the life and yes it might get a little boring for some since Lund is considered a college city where things can be slow sometimes but still I really think it is really a nice and perfect place if you are looking for a quiet place to be on your own and study!

Before talking about Lund as a city and my time here in Sweden, I’d like to share some experiences I had during this journey. It was a very long and tiring flight landing in two airports from Jordan through Frankfurt airport, Copenhagen airport and then Lund. Its been a while since I traveled through Queen Alia airport in Jordan, it is bigger now and you need to follow what exactly the direction the personnel who check your passport guides you to on the gates otherwise you might end waiting for more than 20 minutes in the cafeteria instead of the designated gate waiting area.

The flight was with Lufthansa airline and quite comfy. Its my first time to travel at night and I was amazed how they turned off the light during taking off for a while and then serving us a meal! I really cherished the small blanket and the pillow they placed on every seat but for sure I couldn’t sleep due to the noisy sound of the plane but it seems if you travel a lot, you get used to it!!

Lufthansa plane

Frankfurt airport is one of the biggest airports I’ve seen so far, everyone is on the run and if it happens and get your flight late as ours, you might miss a flight for sure! There was lots of running there, frankly I didn’t like the allocation and spread of the duty free shops as it was difficult to find a perfume shop! they might change your gate number so you need to keep your eye on every screen they have all over the place.

Lufthansa airport

One thing I didn’t like about Frankfurt airport was that the passport checking personnel were very rigid and they even through a racist comment to my face when passing the security check for being an Arab! the thing that you should keep in mind is to ask when you don’t know what to do, there is a lot of kind people who are willing to help and can direct you wherever you get lost. One last remark about the airport was that the toilets were really horrible!

Flying over Norway and Denmark was another story. I was very tired and even didn’t have the strength to pull up my Camera but it was an amazing view up in the sky. The clouds lines were very awesome looking like piles of cotton and snow. The wind turbines in the sea were epic, the formation and their movement. The far away ships and boats looked like frozen objects in time and damn I really should’ve filmed this but Insha’Allah will do so on my way back.

I was amazed when I went to get my baggage and that’s it! no passport checks whats so ever! a handsome taxi driver in Mercedes came to pick us up from the airport to Lund through the well known bridge between Copenhagen and Malmo but that’s a different story that will be told later :)