May 25, 2006

God in Bosnia

One of my all time favourite songs, Marta's Song by Deep Forest, an old folk song in ancient Hungarian led me to look into the meaning of a word that was sung: Istenem, Istenem, and after seaching for its meaning I found that it meant My God/Lord.

I pondered on the word a while, for I recognized it from somewhere; Bosnia. I remembered hearing a Bosnian song and hearing a similar word mentioned in Bosnian.

Today over coffee, at the same café where I saw Tweezer Woman, I asked my Bosnian friend if she recognized the word istenem, and if it meant anything in her language.

Apparently the word for truth, is istina. I asked her if there was any word close to istina or istinem that in Bosnian meant God, just like it does in ancient Hungarian. She explained that the word for God in Bosnian (and Serbian) was bog (very similar to Russian & Ukrainian Боr and боr) , however in everyday slang God is referred to as Istina.

Apparently there is a Bosnian saying that goes:

Istina je samo jedna
tr: The truth is only "one"

Being a Muslim country as such, it must have incorporated the spirit of this meaning in everyday slang thus translating Truth into being synonimical to God. For just as there is only one truth, there is only one God.

Another interesting Holy Linguistics fact.

May 22, 2006

How did you end up here?

While going through my site stats, I noticed a few interesting things when it comes to how people ended up on my site. The following search words were googled today by some of you thus leading you to my blog:

Two "Punjabi poetry" - Glad to help
"Swearing Poll" - Umm, ok.
"Symbol envy" - *spit* *spit*
"Whether its there or here put the chicken in my mouth" - Bird flu song?
"If you give me lahme I feel like I can fly"- Definitely bird flu song
"time capsule and the hanging garden of babylon"- 7 wonders?
Four "la7me" - enough already
"la7me song" - see above
"romeo julia islamic world leila or lejla" - Will Shaykhspeara do?
Four !!! "Pakistani aunties and uncles" - Aunty jee, maaf karo (sorry), I didn't mean what I wrote, honest... please don't tell dad!
"Isabelle Eberhardt" - Finally someone who has heard of her.

Ah well, welcome back again dear readers. Glad to see that I am the place to go for chicken and la7me (meat) ...heartwarming really...

May 21, 2006

Publius Syrus

You cannot put the same shoe on every foot.

The way we talk and reason today, a lot of times started somewhere, by someone at one point in time. We often use sayings that were coined more than two millennia ago without knowing it, thinking it's a very contemporary and "fresh" way to look at things.
A rolling stone gathers no moss.

I guess people have always been people, and thus sayings will always have some sort of bearing in our everyday life, even a millennium from now.

Prosperity makes friends, adversity tries them.
Publius Syrus, a Syrian man who lived during the 1st century BC and was later taken to Italy as a slave, is one of those silent figures whose thoughts remain with us in our languages. His masters freed him though and educated him after being struck by his wit and talent.

I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.

What remains of his works in Latin today are a series of sentences and moral maxims. What brought me to read a bit more about him was a saying in French I heard from a friend, that to me was what one would call a verbal slap:

Amitié qui finit n'avait point commencé
tr: Friendship that ends had no point in beginning

May 19, 2006


There are 25 000 Jews living in Iran. Few knew, bet you didn't know. Ahmedinejad, the one and only, along with the Iranian Parliament however knows that, and has passed new laws that were proposed two years ago. What now then has the "Holocaust Denying" leader done, you ask?

According to an article in the National Post:

Iranian expatriates living in Canada yesterday confirmed reports that the Iranian parliament, called the Islamic Majlis, passed a law this week setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical "standard Islamic garments."

I thought black was in? Moving on to a different style? Where will inspiration be drawn for these new dress codes?

The law, which must still be approved by Iran's "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenehi before being put into effect, also establishes special insignia to be worn by non-Muslims.

Iran's roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth.

Star Trek, I'm telling you people. If I recall it correctly there are both blue, yellow and red uniforms available on the Voyager.

Someone needs to seriously beem up Ahmedinejad...and preferably drop him on some planet somewhere that the rest of us are yet to discover. Nazi-stan.

May 16, 2006


(When "hope" speaks to you, discouraging you from hoping)

Let not the winds of impulse persuade you,
I am not staying for long.
Wake up without me, you know I forbade you,
to let your heart sing along.

Plead not with those eyes of longing and hurting,
colder than ice I must be.
Breathless you'll stand there with no way of knowing,
what has happened to me.

Where I have gone, to what place I've traveled,
even time won't tell.
No traces I leave, no story unraveled,
it's time to bid farewell.

May 15, 2006


It doesn't matter, it's there on a platter,
of silver and gold, yes that's my heart.
Whether you ask me, or whether needs be,
it's served bold and bare from the start.
Nothing to cover, just to discover,
that though we don't know where we are.
It doesn't bother, nor does it burden,
because we've made it this far.

May 14, 2006

The Ballad of Reading Gaol

This poem was written by Oscar Wilde when he was put in prison in 1895 at the age of 41. As he watched a man who had killed his own wife get ready to be hung, he wrote the following verses:
Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so so soon grow cold.
Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.

May 13, 2006

Accatolico Cemetary

On my last visit to Rome, I spent over an hour at their Accatolico Cemetary, basically meaning non-Catholic people's cemetary. You could find everything and everyone in there from the poets Keats and Shelley, to India's first ambassador to Italy, Dewan Raam Lall.

As I kept walking through the cemetary, which in itself is a rewarding experience, not only because reminding yourself about mortality is necessary every now and then, but there is also something fascinating about the lives of people and their final resting place where little remains but a name and a stone.

On one tomb of a person named Gregory Corso (1930-2001), the following beautiful words were written:

Is life
It flows through
The death of me
Like a river
Of becoming
The sea

In the midst of all the graves, I thought I saw something written in Arabic, and as I came closer, I found this:

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji3oon
"Verily to God we belong and verily to Him is our return"
-The Quran, Chapter 2 Vers 156

May 12, 2006


Our main shopping street, Queen Street, or rather Queer Street after the latest encounter with the "clean, fresh, Muslim woman" maniac, has produced yet another interesting happening.

What looked like a man from Brazil, played what I could only describe as "crutchball" using his crutches, head and a football. Amazing really.

Download his performance here.

I still don't know how to host videos, but ah well a file will have to do.

May 10, 2006

La7me- The bird flu song

In Paris at the seminar I attended, my crazy Jordanian friend had a song playing on her mp3. Apparently a Palestinian or Jordanian Swede, living in the southern parts of Sweden recorded this song as a reaction to the chicken hysteria surrounding the bird flu. La7me (lahme), meaning meat in Arabic is the name of this absolutely mad song:

Ana ba7ib el la7me kteer*
whether it's there or here
for the la7me I drive an hour
because la7me gives me power

Chilling eating shish kebab
I even eat it at my job
People say "you want some lunch?"
only if it's chicken you a** munch

Put the chicken in my mouth
Put it always in the south
You don't know what you're doing
I love the chicken brewing.

When I have no la7me I feel like I'm gonna die
if you give me la7me I feel like I can fly
La7me is the best creation in ze universe
if the la7me not existing I will just curse

La7me la7me la7me la7me
Ana bah7ib el la7me kteer, ana ba7ib el la7me

* ana ba7ib el la7me kteer= I love meat a lot

Download song here.

Poll Result: Swearing

19% swear but don't wanna admit it. 26 % swear and are proud of it. 11 % are prudent. 40 % your average human. Now what does the 4% who said they don't know (although there are ample alternative replies presented for them) mean? Any suggestions?

Do vote in my next Poll, inspired by a post on Samuraisam's blog: "Is there a difference in taste between Coca-Cola and Pepsi?"

May 07, 2006

Chocolate Lovers

If in Paris (or even Japan), don't miss out on Pierre Hermé and Christian Constant. Both have taken chocolate and pastries to another level with ingredients like ginger, frangipani, verbena and isphahan.

Apparently Pierre Hermé started in Japan, and now he can only be found there and in Paris. It would explain why I saw a bus load of Japanese tourists queuing outside Hermé's just after I had done my shopping there.

In the guide book First Class, Christian Constant has been rated the best chocolatier in Paris, with Pierre Hermé at number 6. If you want chocolate alone I would recommend CC, a man that travels the world in search of new exciting flavors to incorporate into his chocolate making, however if you are into pastries, PH is your man.

May 06, 2006

Yusuf Islam in Dubai

Formerly known as Cat Stevens, Yusuf Islam will be in Dubai on May 11th at 5 pm, signing his new album Footsteps in The Light. For more information and directions click here.

The album is basically voice and drum only, a style he adopted when he became Muslim. However, he has now diversified his style in music using not only his trademark guitar but other instruments as well. This has placed him in the line of verbal fire among some Muslims unfortunately. He writes an interesting reflection on the subject: Music, a question of Faith or Da'wah?

May 04, 2006

Stockholm, Tweezers and "Fresh, Muslim Women"

Scene 1

I met up with an old friend of mine today for coffee in the city centre. We had loads of catching up to do and before sitting down at a café decided to take a walk. The main shopping street in Stockholm being Drottninggatan or Queen Street, we strolled along it eyeing the stores and chatting away like usual. A man comes out of nowhere and walks alongside us.

Man: Weren't you on TV a while back?
Me: Yes...?
Man: It makes me so proud. Ahhh!!!! Clean, fresh, Muslim women!
Me, thinking to myself: What the...??!
Man: You know I am Muslim myself, from Morocco.
Me: ............????!!!!
Man: Ahh you know I'm thinking of getting married and I don't want a mattress like these girls here, you know what I mean?
Me: .....????!!!!
Man: Yeah I'm telling you, no, I want a clean, fresh, Muslim woman!! And she should want lots of kids, ha ha ha you know what I mean? And I'm thinking, should I go back home and get a wife or should I find one here. You know, if I get one in Morocco it means I have to pay 50 000 kr every three years.
Me, by now so dumbfounded I actually wanna know why he needs to pay 50 000 kr: Umm, why 50 000?
Man: Well you see, she will wanna go back every now and then and show her parents what she's got, and if we have kids too, well, then she will wanna show her kids to her parents and you know, I can't be selfish, I am not a selfish man.

Praise the Lord, he is a saint...

Man: Yeah these people here, akhhhhh! Disgusting! They only spread diseases amongst themselves, yeah I'm telling you, don't you believe me?
Me: Hmm, if you say so.
Man (almost jumping up and down while he speaks): Yeah, but there's nothing like a clean, fresh, Muslim woman who wants lots of kids!!! I heard the local Mosque helps people find partners, do you now anything about it?
Me: I don't know anything about that, but I am sure they know Moroccan families (i.e. future victims), maybe you should go talk to them.
Man: Yeah, you know I am at an age where I need to get married, and there's nothing wrong with me you know, (and he takes out his hand and starts counting on his fingers), I have money, my own 3 bedroom apartment, I have my own company that I started, I am a mohtaram (respectful) Muslim, you know what I mean?

What a huge shock he ain't married yet...

Scene 2

We later on enter a café, in dire need of both coffee and tea after that clean, fresh, Muslim woman encounter. So we sit down on a sofa in the Café, sipping our tea and watching people go in and out.

On the same sofa further away, a woman in her mid-forties is sitting alone with a cup of coffee. From the corner of my eye I notice some strange hand movements. I turn my head to my right to see what she's doing.

In her hand, she's holding a tweezer and casually plucking the hairs from under her chin like it was the most natural thing to do in a coffee shop in central Stockholm.

I turned to my friend and gave her one look. We put our coffee and tea down and decided to call it a night.

May 03, 2006

London Lunacy

I was staying with a dear friend, HM, just outside of London and we decided, rather late, to go out and grab a bite to eat on Edgeware Road, the Arabistan and hub of all Arab food activity in London. Home of restaurants with "creative and catchy" names like The Halal Restaurant or The Lebanese Restaurant.

Being nearly 10 pm, and slightly "far" away, we took the car in order for us to be able to come and go without worrying about train timings. The car we decide to park barely a block away from the restaurant, and I read a sign saying "Pay and display", however on weekends I am told it's free.

Dinner was good, we even bought some sweets to take along with us home and after barely an hour and a half decided to return to our car. It was now around midnight and we walked along the cars in the car park, yet couldn't find ours.

Me: Are you sure this is the right car park?
HM: Yeah I'm positive, and this is the Mercedes we parked next to, I remember it cause it was taking up so much space.
Me: But there is no car next to it?
HM: I know...

So HM calls the police, reports a missing car, either stolen or towed away, license plate, adress bla bla bla.

It was really cold and for some reason HM had left her jacket in the car, which was no longer there. We decide that the only thing to do now is take the train home, and go sleep hoping for the best. A thought however, strikes my mind:

Me: Umm, HM, where are the home keys?
HM: ...........

They were, lo and behold, in the car that of course was no longer there. So we decide we have to call her landlord, who lives in another city. He doesn't pick up, so all we can do is send a text and find the train and go back home to a home without keys.

As we sit on the train waiting for it to leave the platform, freezing and homeless, HM's phone rings. It's the police.

Police: I have some good and bad news.
HM: Ok...
Police: The good news is; your car has been towed away. The bad news is, you will have to pay 200 pounds.

So now it is hitting 1 am and we rush off the train just before it leaves the station and grab a taxi to the car pound in Park Lane, where our dearly beloved car and home keys are.

At the front desk, a man greets us with a look of "oh, here we go, another case". Apparently he was not our man, and he directed us towards a door that led to a long underground narrow corridor á la "perfect crime scene".

We walk, on the "straight path" for a long long time, just enough time to ponder over every thing you have done in the last decade or so, like why you pierced your nose twice. Anyway, we finally get to the payment office where HM filled out forms and paperwork and naturally had to pay the 200 pounds.

To make things lovelier, we have to walk back again the same way we came from, in order to pick up our car that was waiting for us on the outside where another man who worked as an "unlocker" of the towed cars sat.

What was the reason for towing away our car, and fining us 200 pounds after only being away 1 and a half hour?

Parking in a residential parking space.

Wouldn't it have been easier to just place a ticket of 200 pounds on the car?

Our conclusion after the long and highly eventful evening was that in the minds of the British Blair, towing our car enables four men to sit all night in an underground parking lot, and get paid for it.

Now there's an unemployment plan...

May 02, 2006

Back from the Mawlid

Just got back from London today, attended the Mawlid at the Wembley Conference Centre. Was an interesting experience to say the least. Pakistani visitors definitely dominated the scene and all of a sudden Urdu was the default language among the crowd.

Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens was there which was a major surprise. My parents met him when I was a little baby. He had come to Sweden to talk about how he became Muslim. A lot of people don't know this but Yusuf Islam is half Swedish.

Anyway, he has taken up his guitar again and he played an amazing version of the old and famous Muslim spiritual song Tala al badro 3alayna (The white moon rose over us), a song that was sung by the people of Medina upon the arrival of the Prophet Mohammad* to the city. It was good to see him with his guitar again.

What was even more interesting were the people I met during the breaks at the Mawlid, and the stalls with all kinds of interesting books, clothes and crafts. In particular there were two calligraphy stalls of which I must write a separate post on.