Food Review: Shakespeare & Co.



Shakespeare & Co. has been developed and brought up in the UAE in 2001 and has since then opened up many franchises in Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, Egypt and 22 other countries. Shakespeare’s restaurant concept sets them apart from the rest with the restaurant’s 1550’s design, as it explodes with vibrant colors, paintings and unique furniture designs that are handcrafted in their workshops which will make you feel like you are back in the Bygone era in 18th Century Europe. According to their website the theme revolves around this period of elegance, luxury, and exquisite attention to detail. From plush upholstery encased with antique frames, to intricate chandeliers and vintage centerpieces, each restaurant is a classically majestic, awe inspiring union of color, fabric and textures that create a truly extraordinary environment that oozes comfort and encourages great conversation.

Shakespeare also added a Pâtisserie to the restaurant in 2007 to transform it into a unique café for anyone seeking to go back in time. This new addition of an impressively selection of pastries, viennoiserie, petit fours, macaroons and marshmallows are all produced in their state-of-the art pastry kitchen and has made Shakespeare a staple name in the pastry industry.

Personally, Shakespeare is my go to restaurant because it is conveniently located near my residence and is always packed with residents from the area as well. Because of its versatile menu and large hookah selection with an outdoor smoking area which includes huge fans and umbrellas that are there to rescue you from the Dubai heat, it explains the occasional 10-20 minute wait for a table to clear.

However, the food will definitely take your mind off of that wait. Shakespeare offers a menu of international cuisines from Lebanese sajj, Italian pizza, American burgers and many more. As soon as you are seated, friendly waiters approach your table with the menus and soon after bring along cute little fresh breadbaskets that are warm and soft to which you have an option of plain boring butter or a garlic and green onion infused butter than melts so divinely on the mini baguettes. Let’s just say it might not be the healthiest of options but it is one delicious way to start off your meals.


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Because I was feeling a bit nostalgic due to the rain, I decided to order their Tomato soup and the Mediterranean Sajj with French-fries on the side. As soon as they brought the soup over, the aroma of the fresh tomatoes and that heavy cream drizzled on top made it almost impossible for me to wait those extra 2 seconds to take the picture. But this was the perfect choice for a rainy day especially when you are enjoying their almost garden inspired outdoors. The soup was rich in tomato flavor with a hint of ginger, which will obviously not impress anyone who doesn’t like the taste of tomatoes very much. The consistency was also very light and surprising for a cream based soup and the portion was more than enough to get you cozy and full. Shakespeare has a variety of other soups ranging from traditional lentil, onion, mushroom, to chicken noodle or butternut squash. All soups are priced at DHS 37.




As satisfying as the soup was, I went on to my second dish; the Mediterranean Sajj with French-fries on the side. The Sajj caught my eyes almost instantly with its vibrant colors because of the green Rocca leaves, the red dried tomatoes and black olives against the thin and crispy cheese bread. And the French-fries were fried to perfection; they were golden brown and crispy from the outside but soft from the inside and you can tell that these were freshly cut and not frozen. The Sajj, however, was a bit messy due to the olive oil drizzled on top so it might not be the best date-night kind of dish but this only proves how juicy the whole thing was. Shakespeare offers a whole range of sajjs and I think this is a fun new twist on the regular pizza due to the nature of bread being ever so thin and crisp. This sajj costs around DHS 39.




To satisfy my sweet tooth, I ordered the Chocolate Crêpe to finish the meal off with a bang. The Crêpe came not long after I had ordered it and was still warm and smelled of Chocolate and Caramel. As soon as you cut into it, the chocolate comes oozing out like a milk chocolate river and tasted perfect with the texture of the crêpe that was a little bit crispy from the pan. The portion was a bit too large so I would say it is suitable for two people or a choco-holic.

What I like about Shakespeare is the variety. They offer set breakfast menus that are more than generous with the selection of either American (includes bacon, turkey sausage, eggs, hash browns and your choice of juice or coffee,) Healthy (includes an omlette with herbs, roast potatoes, fresh asparagus, fresh fruit salad, and natural yoghurt with juice or coffee,) or Lebanese (includes grilled halloumi, with either za’aatar, halloumi or kashkawan cheese sajj with juice, coffee or tea.) One of which will cost you DHS 55.

I also happen to be a fan of their tea selection, unlike other restaurants and cafes that offer the usual English breakfast or green tea, Shakespeare offers options from Jasmine lotus (jasmine scented green tea,) Jasmine Fairies (white jasmine blossoms,) Rising flower (yellow/orange marigold blooms,) or Wan Zi Qian Hong (deep purple lavender hibiscus petals.)

Shakespeare has over 16 branches in Dubai alone and is suitable for an early morning breakfast, a hungry lunch, or a satisfying dinner where I am sure you will find what your stomach desires.



Timings: 8 AM – 12 AM

Price Range: DHS 200 (approx. for 2 people)

Child friendly: Yes; includes high baby chairs

Smoking: Yes only outdoors

Cash and Card accepted

My First Ever Make Up Video!


Hi guys!

So this is my first ever attempt at making my very own make up video. It’s a very simple make up look suitable for anyone who wants to look “natural.” hahaha.

I still need to fix the lighting and come up with a strategy and stuff for next time but I thought I’d give it a try!

Also, if you want to know about any of the products that I have used throughout, just hit me up in the comment section.

Hope you like it 🙂


The 8 Different Types of People You’ll Meet Working at a Bar

While attending AUB this summer, I was casually passing by a pub in Hamra when a “we are hiring” sign got my attention. I have always been extremely curious as to what the experience of working in a bar would be like because we have all been on the receiving end but what would happen if we turned the tables around? For me it was gaining an experience while also conducting some research and I ended up working at Neighbor’s Pub for about 3 months. While it was an unforgettable experience, because I had met so many different people I have become more or less an expert in giving a crash course of the pub-bers you will probably see (or you might find yourself belonging to one of these types haha.)

Starting the list would be: 1. The Regular; they come to the bar at the same time every single day and order the same drink (I sometimes wonder if they actually put an alarm to remind them of their daily drink.)

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  1. The Happy Hour Fanatics; these are the people who literally will not come a second late and will not leave a second early without ordering everything off of the menu.giphy (1)
  2. The Beer Infatuated; these are the people who always order beer whether it’s during the afternoon on a weekday or at night on a crazy weekend (and have no problem chugging 6+ beers in less than an hour.)ngTvfVQ
  3. The person who still wants to drink 5 minutes before closing; this is the person who comes in late at night and orders a couple of drinks, one of which must be a couple of minutes before closing in hopes that being rebellious will make the drink taste better.aqueenisneverlate
  4. The one getting a hangover; these are the people who come planning to spend their money solely on alcohol. Their only interest is to get hammered as soon as possible.giphy
  5. The Fussy Drinker; no drink is ever good enough for this person they always want to add something or have something removed and they never know what they want.tumblr_m9qmp5sIog1rfthx4o1_500(Can we just take a moment and stare at Ryan Reynolds *drool*)
  6. The Couple; they come in, order a drink (that they never finish,) choose an area in a corner and will just stargaze into each other’s eyes (or use their phone.)

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    (Imagine that but like less cute)

Saving the best for last is 8. The Jiddo; you would think it would be a sweet old man that orders a drink, sits at the bar and keeps to himself, right? But the Grandpa at Neighbor’s is a DJ who comes in at 1 AM every Friday and turns the place upside down, transforming it into some kind of nightclub.

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Nevertheless, I have met so many great people there and working in a bar has honestly changed my perspective on the service industry (and has made me a better customer too!) So to whoever is planning to work at a bar, good luck and just have fun with it!

Orange is the New Black: An Analytical Look into Race and Gender


Orange is the New Black; an American comedy-drama series was first released on Netflix in 2013 by its creator Jenji Kohan and is based on Piper Kerman’s memoir and her experiences in a woman’s prison. The story revolves around the main character, Piper Chapman, whom gets sentenced to spend about 15 months in a woman’s federal prison because she had helped transfer a suitcase filled with drug money that belonged to her ex lesbian girlfriend and international drug smuggler, Alex Vause. However, this whole ordeal occurred about 10 years earlier to Piper establishing a life in the Suburbs with her fiancé. (Wikipedia) The entire time Chapman is in Litchfield Penitentiary, she encounters many different characters that each have an episode dedicated to their story and how they got to where they are by the use of flashbacks and memories. Agreeing with what Gaye Tuchman argues that reality really will mirror the media and one of the core arguments given is that: The media distorts women’s status in the social world and do not present [them as] viable role models, (Tuchman, p. 531, par 1) and because the entire show is basically about the incarceration of women in jail it presents them as not equipped to be good role models but instead as “damaged goods.” Nevertheless, the show has ladies who are doing things we have never seen ladies in entertainment do, especially around topics that don’t revolve around men. (McClelland, p. 1, par 5)

Moreover, Orange Is The New Black is depicted as a comedic overview of jail life but this show bluntly uses stereotyping and common ideologies about race and gender throughout the three seasons and I will be using claims retrieved from episode six of season one to showcase that Orange Is The New Black is actually promoting the idea of “whiteness” and “white supremacy” as something ideal while also degrading the status of women in society. People, however, would argue against this by stating that the show has brought an unprecedented diversity (McClelland, p. 1, par 9) and is seen as a platform for women of different race, sexuality, gender and class to speak up about real problems. On the other hand, Tuchman presented the “symbolic annihilation” of women by the media which plays alongside the existence of such a show because once again it presents vulnerable women who got sent to jail and who have to abide by the jail rules mostly under male authority figures.

The writers of this show also included a character known as “Porn Stash;” who terrorizes the women, sexualizes them and takes advantage of them. All of which falls into Tuchman’s idea of “men are shown as aggressors, women as victims.” (Tuchman, p. 531, par 2) The images of women in the show are not being uplifted by the good things they’ve done but instead are classified either by their crimes and violent behavior or by their victimization from men.

Episode six, also called the “WAC Pack”, is about the inmates and their strategies to campaign against one another in order to become the prisoners’ representative. “WAC,” in WWII, was known as “a member [representative] of a United States Army unit created for women.” (Webster) The title is a clever way for the viewers to foretell what the episode is about but what we end up seeing is not one representative for the women but instead racial segregation amongst the inmates with different WACs for the Blacks, the Hispanics, the Whites and the others and I will be using situations between the different WACs as evidence to my claims.

Entman argues that “some believe the real explanation for whites’ hostility to blacks’ striving is not racial prejudice but group-based conflict; these observers think that white resentment arises from competition with black groups over scarce resources.” (Entman, p. 333, par 6) This correlates with the setting of the entire show because it is a representation of the ethnicities in a place where resources are scarce; prison. Also, where the black and the whites do have to compete with one another so that their voices and needs are met.

Furthermore, my first claim of the episode starts off with Natalie Figueroa, who is a white women and the Executive Assistant to the Warden at Litchfield, degrading Joe Caputo by saying that it is so depressing having to deal with a man who earns less than $40,000 a year. The audience would probably regard this as an act of feminism because for once it is a female figure standing up to a man but in reality, Natalie only pities Joe because of his association to a lower working class. We would also notice that the vast majority of the officers and authority figures in charge at this prison are white, which signifies some sort of white power over the different ethnicities in jail. It is when ideologies like these are hidden with smirk remarks, bold actions and comedy that we become passive to their actual meaning.

Moving on, my second claim is about the connection of “being educated” with being white because as the episode continues on to Yoga Jones complaining to Sam Healy, who is in charge of the women’s activities in the prison, about her need to meditate and stresses on the “love and acceptance” aspect of her religion to which a counterargument was made by Tiffany Doggett about Christians having a hard time praying to God with all these meditating Buddhists. Here we clearly see a divide amongst the whites, but nevertheless it is associating whiteness with being religious. To which “Crazy eyes” joins and asks Sam to have a look at her genital area because she thinks she might have the flu. This scene implies 2 things about race: Buddhist religion is to be viewed as not important to Christianity, but both of which are white majority religions and that the Black race isn’t to be regarded as intelligent because genital areas cannot catch “the flu.”

The third and most important claim is about Piper Chapman being used as a tool in the show to justify how racist and stereotypical the show is being because she represents the educated, humble and idealist “white” figure that calls for equality and an effective election system. This claim comes from the conversation between Piper Chapman and her mother because her mother kept asking if her daughter is “okay” but all for the wrong reasons. Piper’s mother states that she wouldn’t blame Piper if she loses it in here and uses phrases like “look at this place, you’re incarcerated!” Which would imply that it would be unusual for a white woman from the upper middle class to go to jail let alone survive it. She then blames Piper’s ex-girlfriend for putting her daughter in jail because piper would instead be “at home trying on wedding dress and giving her grandchildren,” we clearly see what Piper’s mother thinks a woman’s role in society is; to stay at home and be care givers. As Tuchman argues that “[there are] some assumed activities that [show] women in the mass media [to] have some sort of detrimental impact upon individual consciousness and collective social life,” (Tuchman, p. 530, par 2) and the mother’s quote clearly shows us what the writers want us to think of the contribution of women to society which definitely harms their image and their capabilities.

However, the writers of Orange is the New Black cleverly justify all the racism and class distinctions with Piper defending herself and considering all the people in prison as “one.” For example, right after the conversation with her mother, she defends herself with the argument that she is in prison because she is no different than any one else in there and that it’s not because of race, gender, class but because she is the one who made bad decisions and committed the crime. I would think that the writers would want the audience to congratulate Piper for being the white figure that is courageous and humble because she stood up to the ideological ideas of her mother when in reality she is only there as a shrewd tool.

The first flashback of this episode is when one of the inmates, Nicky, tried to anger her mother by saying that she is pretty sure that her real mother was “that brown woman who made her pancakes and read her bedtime stories.” This phrase brings me to my fourth claim because it was said with a clever sarcastic tone implying that women from brown ethnicities are usually employed as housekeepers or nannies while the white parents have the real jobs. This is an example of how race and class correlate, brown nannies are seen as lower working class catering to the whites; white supremacy even in the household.

The next situation that clearly screams racist stereotyping that defends my fifth claim occurs with the scene of a handful of white women at the lunch table with Lorna Morello letting Chapman know how the WAC elections work and that they are only allowed to vote within their race or group to which Nicky replies and tells Piper to pretend like it’s the 1950s so she could understand better. Basically, this scene directly introduces the idea of racial segregations and implies that societies are regressing back in time to an era of ignorance and isolation from one another.

Chapman (the white figure) then realizes and points out that this is not an example of an effective system because not every Hispanic wants the same thing. Again we are witnessing Piper Chapman as the voice of reason and logic and this implies that the white race is actually an intellectual race and is considerate of other ethnicities. Lorna responds with the fact that the Hispanics shouldn’t complain because all they want to do is come to America, she justifies her racist comment by explaining that she lives in a neighborhood of Hispanic majority to which they live 20 to an apartment, they have more kids than the Irish, their men like their women curvy, they are dirty and greasy, their food smells nasty and finally they are taking all “their jobs.” This scene implies that the Hispanics are similar to animals because they are uneducated and undeserving of being in the United States especially when they are taking the white people’s jobs. To understand the context, we have to look at the broader scene and what occurs in it, in this case we see that some of the white girls laughed while others were very shocked, this is a clear example of the white majority ganging up on an ethnic minority, but what the audience fails to notice is that Lorna Morella is actually from Italian descend which is very ironic to the whole situation.

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When looking at the broader context, I also noticed that most of the media texts used and  referred to all included white characters and the idea of being white. There are 3 examples to which this occurred in the show: The first is when Tasha “Taystee” complains to Mr. Healey about the T.V remote and that she can’t watch any more “Toddlers & Tiaras.” T&T is a show about the competitive world of child pageants where the children, majority of whom are white, are judged on beauty, personality and costumes. (Drobis, TLC.) The second is when Poussè tells Taystee that she wants to watch Ina Garten, which is a show about a white women in the Hamptons that cooks and makes upscale dishes for her and her guests. If we refer to both images of the shows, we would notice the emphasis on “whiteness” and the associations such as beautiful, educated, elite and upscale. Poussè also points out that her name is French and is named after a place of kings and royalty, this implies that the French (whom are considered white) are seen as representatives of those qualities and if she is named after a place in France that she is those qualities too.

My last claim is shown towards the end of the episode with Piper Chapman winning the elections despite having actually electing herself. Instead, Mr. Healey had told her that “it is not often that he comes across intelligent women like herself in a place like this and that she should run and represent the white WACs,” to which she responded that she wasn’t interested but he took it upon himself to make her win otherwise. This scene explicitly showcases how the “whites” stick together and how people like Mr. Healy despite having to run a prison of different ethnicities, still believes that the world is a better place when white people are in charge because no harm can be done that way and that this is how things should be anyway.

When watching any type of media texts, we often are very passive towards the messages and ideologies that present themselves in a humoristic manner that Entman argues “is a modern form of racism that has arisen” (Entman, p. 332, par 1) to which we have fallen to accept. However, Colin Leach would argue that this is no such thing as modern racism, the subtleness that we associate with racism now has always existed and the notion of ‘new racism’ may actually work to prevent a much needed critical social psychological conceptualization of racism. (Leach, p. 434, par. 4) So, it is only when we stop for a second and invest the time to properly analyze what each word, symbol, reference, joke etc. is about or revolves back to, do we actually see the extent of how naïve we could be towards their effect on us and the long term effect in the future.

Life Happens


Dear readers,

I would just like to clarify the reason to why I’ve ben MIA lately. I didn’t want to write about whatever was on my mind unless I was giving it 100% and more. I had so many factors affecting my state of mind during the past couple of months; people and things that I’ve just started to realise are so insignificant to my life and my future.

We all go through a tough period, and the reason that I’m writing this is inform whoever might be in this rut that it’s okay. A lot of things occupy our minds everyday and it’s O.K. if some conquer the others entirely. So, my darlings, just take as much time as you need, reassess everything that is starting to become an anchor to your life and jump right back into the game. No biggie, I swear. =)

I promise many more posts to come, so stay tuned! =)

Much love,

Has Humanity Become Extinct?


Dear Readers,

If you haven’t heard of what is going on in Gaza right now, please pick up a newspaper or watch the news (not a channel that is biased only to the Israeli side of the story) because to be ignorant of the massacres that are occurring in Palestine is unacceptable. There have been many bombs during the past weeks that have not only have killed 243 children and adults but have injured approximately 1,850 palestinians. These killings are justified to the Israeli as “retaliations,” but the injured Israelis so far can be counted on one hand. I am certain this is more complicated than what appears on the surface, however, massacres of any human beings let alone children especially during the holy month of Ramadan are NEVER justified.

Don’t be ignorant. Don’t be blind.

Gay and Married?


What if you were denied to marry your loved one? What if you were denied something that is a fundamental element of your civil rights as a citizen of a state? Would you fight or would you surrender?

The Oxford dictionary defines civil marriage as “a marriage solemnized as a civil contract without a religious ceremony.” Civil marriage has been overlooked over the years because it is seen as less important in comparison to a religious marriage. However, many people are no longer accepting the unjust treatment they are receiving when declined to undergo civil marriages. Ignorant people have limited the term “marriage” to different sex couples and discriminated against the people of different religion, people of different political background and most importantly to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples. I believe that the era of ignorance and discrimination is on the verge of altering itself into a gay marriage movement. By finally allowing same-sex couples to marry one another in return allows them to get the same privileges as any other couples. Same-sex couples can “legally” get married and be with one another, can finally feel secure and happy in their relationship, and can finally receive the same treatment as any other couple.

President Barack Obama once said: “When I think about— members of my own staff who are incredibly committed, in monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together. When I think about— those soldiers or airmen or marines or— sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf— and yet, feel constrained, even now that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is gone, because— they’re not able to— commit themselves in a marriage. At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that— for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that— I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” This released statement by President Barack Obama was a life-changing event because as of June 24, 2011 New York City became the largest state to legalize same-sex marriage (Copeland 1.) For years, the United States’ civil law regarding marriage and divorce was generally reflecting the Protestant Christian norms of religion. Which states: “marriage was limited to one man and one woman of marriageable age and without prohibited degrees of consanguinity or affinity” (Nichols 2.) And as advanced as America is compared to the rest of the world, homophobia is still evident in their civilization. Gay, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) have been struggling for their human rights and their rights as citizens of the state. Now, most people thought that the state’s recognition of same-sex marriage would have been synonymous with the LGBT equality movement in 1993 when Hawaii argued that the state shouldn’t exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage and that it violated their constitution (Copeland 105.) But that proved to be untrue. Also, in an article by Peter Edge: “Including Religion: Reflections On Legal, Religious, And Social Implications Of The Developing Ceremonial Law Of Marriage And Civil Partnership,” he states that there was a Civil Partnership Act that was released back in 2004 in the United Kingdom. However, even after the enactment of the act in 2005, Peter concludes that three groups are still not able to take part in religious based ceremonies. These 3 groups consist of: same-sex couples, dissidents and members of smaller/lesser known religious communities. These cases are there to show that even though some states “recognize” the need for same-sex couples and other cases to get married, it does not mean that anything will be done about it. And this kind of treatment, as the state of Hawaii has pointed out, is a hypocritical move if some states choose to take part in, even more so when their constitution proves otherwise.

Following New York City’s example, 18,000 couples were married in the state of California within June 2008 and November 2008. (Dinno 1.) Same-sex couples were no longer denied the opportunity to “elevate” their relationship to the status that they deserve. (Copeland 106.) Some people may argue that such legalization takes away from the “norms” of society. Let me further the explanation by using the previous example of the United States. As I’ve said, the U.S. is considered a Christian country (the majority of the population) so many people believe that the state is the primary generator of a normative meaning. (Copeland 107.) This feared notion of the state allowing LGBT marriages means the state would be saying that this is the new “normal” of society. This “normal” contradicts many of the Christian beliefs and religious customs.

Others also argue that the “legalization of same-sex marriage is positioned as an “assault” seeking to “weaken,” “destroy,” and “undermine” opposite-sex marriage.” (Dinno 2.) Opponents also claim that ‘‘if the definition of marriage between a man and a woman is changed, it would fundamentally redefine its original and historical procreative purpose. Which [all in all] weakens society’s perception of marriage and the importance of having children.” (Dinno 3.) However, couples of different sexes (heterosexuals) and bisexuals across the country have pledged to boycott marriage until it is available to all gender preferences by joining a “National Marriage Boycott.” (Dinno 2.)  So not only do some couples encourage the legalization of same-sex individuals to marry but are also putting their own marriage on hold for the sake of such issues.

Moreover, it is not surprising that marriages bring health benefits to the individuals involved. Allowing civil marriage to same-sex couples has been proven to increase their health, happiness and overall work performance. According to Erin Dean’s article “Health and Happiness,” being married has been proven to lower the chances to develop cancer, have heart attacks and experience dementia. Research done by stonewall has found higher rates of mental health problems including depression among the LGBT community (1.) This is important because lesbians were more likely to heavily drink and smoke than other women due to stress. (1.) This article proves that removing these practical difficulties of performing simple acts such as marriage eventually brings about happiness and increased security to well deserving individuals. After considering these statements, one should ask if they are able to stand in the way of someone and their chance to live a happy and healthy life?

Furthermore, to many people a marriage is less important as a civil matter and more important as a religious matter. For them, a marriage is not accepted unless it is between two similar religions and people whom have received “appropriate solemnization by qualified religious authorities.” (Nichols 2.) So while some people argue that it is against one’s religion to marry the same-sex, others argue that the problem is further expanded to different religions of the same-sex attempting to marry. And at the end of the day, opponents will argue against it in whichever way it is perceived.

In conclusion, acts that practice unjust treatment of any minority communities, whether they are smaller religious groups or gay groups, should be abolished. The discouragement and prohibition of civil marriage has gone far too long, many people are not only suffering mentally, emotionally but also physically for their right of whom to love and often forget that every person is responsible for who they are and whom they can love. Religiously, we are all taught to live with one another in harmony and be accepting of each other. Ethically, we should not judge the other person’s gender preference. The “norms” of society are changing and whether we accept this movement or not is our own opinion.
However, accepting this movement and finding peaceful methods in allowing people of same-sex and different religion to tie the “knot” would be much easier than trying to resist it. Once personal opinions limit another person’s right to happiness and health is when we should draw the line. And finally if you know anyone who is going through a tough time due to this issue or is under malicious acts of homophobia, be supportive and accepting of his or her situation. Also, try to speak out when inequality is being committed because a movement only needs one voice to ignite itself into a change.

My Home Away from Home

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It’s funny how things change when you least expect them to. I came to Lebanon as a foreigner and I am leaving it (temporarily) as if I have been living here my entire life. I would have to admit that it was scary at first, moving countries and starting a whole new lifestyle but I guess change is good eventually, right? In my case it was a dramatic change but I am definitely grateful.

I’m grateful for all those who have entered my life and changed it completely, I am grateful to the friends I’ve made, whom without I don’t think my freshman year of university would have been the same, I’m grateful to those whom I’ve shared laughs, tears, anger, and happiness with. To countless times spent in the mornings talking about the nights before, to the countless times we’ve enjoyed that little pub down the street just because it became our little haven and our home away from home. I am grateful to the people who have entered my life and even to those who have exited it. Even though, they can no longer affect my decisions and I, they have influenced me in a way that can only better my future and of whom to trust.

I have learned so much from so many people; to trust and be trusted, to open up even when situations test me otherwise, to look at the brighter side of things even when they can’t look any worse, and to appreciate everything and everyone around me. To appreciate how early this city wakes up every single day with its rustling and bustling noises, to appreciate the kind hearted and genuine kindness of this culture, to appreciate their ability to forget the world and just have fun. I am leaving Lebanon and after only spending 9 months in this country I can proudly say I fell in love. I am in love with this city. These people. This life. I fell in love with what can happen and what cannot happen here. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all those I’ve met and I hope that I have made a big enough influence to you as you have to me.

Till we meet again,

P.S: To those that think I’m leaving for good, I’m not! Just for the duration of the summer. 🙂

Banana Republic

Yazan Halwani - The Banana Republic

A politician, obviously by definition, is a person who is involved in politics. Looking back at history, anyone would notice the change in the morals that come with politics because back then politicians actually had an agenda of bettering a certain sector or country, disregarding any personal benefit. However, recently a politician is anyone who practices politics only for personal gain in life or society, examples: To achieve more money, to become or to have a higher power, to be influential upon a large quantity of people or assets and the list goes on. We, as the people who are witnessing this dramatic change, have tried to open each other’s eyes to the reality behind these “political movements” and what their real agenda is. People like Yazan Halwani are doing exactly that. Yazan, who is just 20 years old, is a graffiti God to anyone who knows his art. Ever since a young age, approximately 16 years old, Yazan developed the skill of calligraphy, which was taught to him by his uncle.

“Joumhouriyat Al Mouz” is Yazan’s most famous and controversial graffiti piece that can be found in the heart of Beirut, Lebanon. If I were to describe this piece it would go something like this: A monkey wearing a suit and tie surrounded by Arabic calligraphy language. Now, it’s not the monkey in the suit that catches your eye, but it is the sentences that are intensified, drawn and highlighted to stand out. One of those sentences is the piece’s title which when translated means “Banana Republic” (Most people would associate that title with the clothing line. However, it has a completely different meaning) and the other is a quote. The Arabic calligraphy language surrounding the monkey is a clear indicator that Yazan is focusing on the Arab culture. Moving on to the quote, which was from the golden age of Lebanon, belongs to a famous writer named Jibran Khalil Jibran who said, “If Lebanon wasn’t my country, I would choose Lebanon to be my country.” Now the interesting part is that Yazan did not quote him exactly, his version goes like this, “If Lebanon wasn’t my country, I would choose Canada to be my country.” After studying this artwork, the only question that lingered in my head was “Why?”

Now in my opinion, these are the answers to my question: The monkey, often associated as a primitive animal, is a symbol, let’s say, for any politician around the world, but mostly in Lebanon, who has the intellectual capacity of zero when it comes to politics. Hence why the monkey is formally dressed and perceived as a “politician”. What Yazan is trying to show his fans is that authors like Jibran, along with the majority of the Lebanese people, love their country but dislike “the monkeys in the suits.” Because at the end of the day, monkeys in their simplest forms are wild animals that don’t have a sense of laws or rules; only a sense of personal gain and survival. That is something that is commonly found between both the monkeys and the politicians.

To end this observation, I think that Yazan is a part of an important movement. A movement that is willing to go above and beyond in order for their voices to be heard or in his case: to be seen. Before my research about this, I had no clue about the background of this graffiti piece although I probably walked past it a thousand times. This leads me to the fact that we, as humans, are curious creatures. However, we tend to get too comfortable in where we are to feed our inner curiosity. Therefore, it is important to ask “Why?” to certain things in order to open not only our eyes but also our perception of what things really mean and how influential they are.