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Friday, April 15th 2005

12:26 AM

A CHANGE A COMIN'

A new look QuixotiQ Writings is now officially up and running (let's admit it, this one looks dead dull and we all love change don't we?!)... but I must warn you, it is still at its early stages and not fully completed.

You can find it here http://quixotiq-writings.blogspot.com so please bookmark the new link. I'll keep this old journal but it will be for archival (as well as sentimental!) purposes only.

Also, as you can see up there, I've uploaded a few shots from my recent Osaka trip.

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Monday, April 4th 2005

6:05 AM

JAPAN HERE I COME!

I'm off to Japan for a few days.

I've never been to Japan. Osaka to be exact. But I've always wondered how it would be. So I'm excited about the trip.  I leave tonight. I'll fill you in on it once I get back.

I enjoyed the Bahrain Grand Prix yesterday. Althrough  the weather was a little bit to hot to take. The race itself was quite good. I was impressed yet again by Alonso and found myself cheering for him all the way. Schumacher is out? Good riddance! The only disappointment was how Narain retired. He's a fierce fast driver.

 

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Saturday, April 2nd 2005

12:28 AM

SHAMELESS BLULG

Booksplus, the leading bookstore chain the the Kingdom, has restocked a few more copies of QuixotiQ in both thier Seef Mall and A'ali Shipping Complex branches... so if you've nto picked up y our copy yet, well, what are you waiting for!

Also, why not pay Al Riwaq Gallary in Adliya a visit. They have been kind enough to me to carry a few copies of my novel in their lovely little bookstore. They are on sale there too.

The new-look Al Riwaq is beautiful. An epitomime to modern art, literature and culture. I've neem following the gallary for quite some time, since my GDN days when I used to cover their activities and functions. The gallary is certainly expanding and moving on to bigger things.

Right. I'm off to the Grand Prix!

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Tuesday, March 29th 2005

2:34 AM

A CHALLANGE OF SOME SORT

In a recent magazine interview, the writers stressed to me the significance in writing in a second language. As a Bahraini, Arabic is my mother tongue. I realized that not many fiction writers write in other than their first language. Come to think of it, I’ve never heard of one before.

 

Certainly, no “Western” writer has previously attempted it. Of course, I could be mistaken. But I stand to be corrected. So if anyone knows of any non-Arab writer – of no Arab origins whatsoever – who writes or written fiction directly in Arabic, please give us a shout.

 

My reply to the writer was that perhaps the reason behind my writing in English, a second-language, was that I am attempting to reach out for the world… maybe a way of establishing communication, with humanity, on a subconscious level.

 

She said she can’t imagine an English-speaking author writing fiction in Arabic… I wish I could prove her wrong.

 

I’ve lately been contemplating starting work on a third novel. If you remember, I explained on this journal before, how I gave up on QuixotiQ for a very long time and turned my attention to another project (the one called Buried which I am halfway through now). I am itching to do the same now, and how that actually helped greatly in finishing QuixotiQ when I decided to give it another go!

 

I need a kick in the bum to get me into gear… ah, which reminds me, the 2005 Bahrain Grand Prix is only a couple of days away. And my Turn 1 grandstand tickets are ready in my pocket!

 

If that is of any interest to you, you might want to check out the Bahrain Grand Prix This Month special edition magazine - which I was the editor of. It is in the market now.

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Wednesday, March 23rd 2005

1:38 AM

THAT QUESTION AGAIN

I’m still waiting for my new batch of books to come in. But I’ve just been told that they should be here by Tuesday. So, fingers crossed. Though I’m not entirely sure yet what I’m going to do with them once they get here.

 

One thing I really feel bad about is when people come up to me and ask: “How’s your book doing?” Well, how could I answer that, really. It’s a very bizarre question. And I feel bad because no matter how hard I try to give out a decent answer, I always end up disappointing the person asking. I ramble out a few words and they give that sympathetic nod that makes me want to say more! And for some reason I always look up at the ceiling (or the sky), frown and end up saying things along the lines of “Not too bad” or  “Can’t complain” and “Quite well, actually” not really knowing what that exactly means! Well, I do know what the words mean it’s just that I don’t know what I mean by saying them!

 

Oh boy oh girl, do I ever take the easy route!

 

Anyways, the other day I met Narain Karthikeyan… he is the first Indian Formula One driver. He’s been doing well so far with his Jordan team. He ain’t a bad chap at all. He even took a moment to give me his autograph! I’ll put up some pix later on today. Man, I’m getting a little too much into this whole F1 madness. It’s only like 9 days away. Last year I was out of town when it all happened. This year it seems that I’m caught right in the middle of it!

 

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Thursday, March 17th 2005

12:31 AM

Finally... !!!

  • Music: Idlewild "Warnings/Promises"

I got through!

 

I’ve been trying to log into my bravenet journal for almost three weeks now to no avail. Finally today, it seems to be working fine. I guess it knew all along that I’ll be way too busy these couple of weeks that I won’t have time to update the journal anyway…. Of course, I can’t deny that there would be some truth in that.

 

Apart from working on what proved to be the biggest and most grueling project I’ve ever been involved in, I’ve also been trying hard to set up something for all you fans out there! I’ve said some while back that I’d like to organize some sort of book function or other in the near future… believe me guys, I’m on it. You’ll be the first to know when something materializes, promise.

 

On the table of discussion there is the possibility of a reading, as well as an “informal” signing session. I’m quite annoyed with myself for letting things die out a bit after the book launch last October. I still want people to know about the book

 

Like I said, lately I’ve been mostly busy working on this “magazine” project for the coming F1 Grand Prix in Bahrain. It’s been fun but very stressful and exhausting. I never thought reading and writing can be so mentally and physically tiring.

 

Over that same period though, I also managed to write a new short story awkwardly entitled “The Bullshitter” … last night I tried getting back into working on second novel Buried, but I couldn’t. I worry that it will have the same fate as QuixotiQ did, that it will take a very, very long time to finish. Fret not my dears, this will not happen.

 

I’ll leave you for now, but rest assured that I’ll soon make another appearance!

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Friday, February 18th 2005

7:05 AM

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Today I was suddenly struck by some sort of revelation. I stood in the middle of my room and stared blankly at the floor and I thought to myself “Hey, I’m 27 years old!”

 

Yesterday was my birthday. And just like most of my other birthdays, it went unnoticed. No complaints here. But it has become a fact now: I am 27.

 

A decade ago I was only 17, and another decade back, I was only 7. When I was 7, I would sit down on my school desk, completely unaware of whatever my maths teacher was ranting about, and I would count the years ahead of me.

 

I would think, jotting the digits and numbers down on my notebook “In 1996 I will become 18… in 1998 I will be 20 (in time with the World Cup, cool! I would think). In 2005 I will be 27.” Twenty years ago, this days was too far away to ever become a reality.

 

Well, now I think: 27 is only three years away from 30. Thirty is half way through to 60. Hell, that doesn’t seem that far off now doesn it?!

 

The funny side of it is that back then, back on that school desk, I was thinking about all this as if it concerned someone else. I was talking about myself, how could I have been? I was only seven remember? Besides, they were only numbers on a piece of paper.

 

But time flies. And here we are. Another year ticked off.

 

Back to reality, I am glad to report that I’ve actually done some writing today. I’ve written a little under 600 words on my second novel Buried. Which means that as of now, I am approximately 38k words away from the end.

 

Tsk tsk. Sigh.

 

Bear with me please, I’ll get there… eventually.

 

The Oscars are only 10 days away! Who are you putting your money on?

 

I also wanted to touch upon Ashora, the shiate religious occasion celebrated by millions all over the world. Now, I’m not going to retell the events of that day, or the savagery of the massacre or the unfairness of the battle of Karbala. You’ve probably heard it all before… but I’m just going to say something about what this occasion has become to.

 

It used to be a genuinely sad and very religious occasion in which people mourned the death of great people and one that we are meant to draw lessons, wisdom and morals from. But just like any other major religious occasion in the world, it has become commercialized, striped of its true hard-hitting reality to become nothing more than yet another “cultural” or “social” gathering where people come in to meet their friends, chat and have a bit of fun!

 

Sadly this is the truth.  It has become, dare I say, just like Christmas or New Year, two occasions which are celebrate by millions of non-Christians for the sake of it being fun and cool and gives them something “nice” to do.

 

But lets not get too critical here… after all, it is only for the good that more people acknowledge this very important and historic event. And why would we complain, with so many satellite channels covering the Ashora activities, broadcasting processions and hearings. For the love of the Hussain, even Bahrain TV is broadcasting programmes and shows about it… something previously unheard of. As little as five years ago, no one would have even dreamed of it, that the government owned television channel would cover the festivities of Ashora.

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Monday, February 14th 2005

8:54 AM

IMAGES I SEE

I’ve got a rejection letter today… in my inbox this morning was an email from the editor of Fiction Warehouse informing me that my two submitted stories did “not suit our current needs”, which, according to a fellow author, is as lame an excuse as a rejection letter can have.

 

On a brighter note I can happily reveal to you that work is in progress on editing the collection, although on a somewhat slow pace. I’m optimistic about it and have a good feel that this book will be a much more polished than the previous one.

 

Today, a friend photographer brought in some new photos he took of me at the October book launch of QuixotiQ, I was pleased. So big thanks to him. I’ve put some up on the flickr account where you can now also view some images from my recent Oman trip.

 

I’m having a lot of trouble trying to manage my time. There’s lots to do and I really am planning a number of things to promote QuixotiQ in the very near future… hopefully, things will start materializing once I get the chance to focus on them, right after I finish with the current project I’m working on.

 

The BAFTAs had a couple of surprises, didn’t they? Good surprises though. I liked the fact that Vera Drake got two big awards on the night (even though I am yet to see it!) It’s defiantly on my list to-see. And the Motorcycle Diaries. It’s a shame that we don’t get world cinema films around here played on the big screens. Though I believe the Bahrain Cinema Club does hold special screenings of similar films on a weekly basis, maybe I ought to check them out.

 

Maybe I will.

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Wednesday, February 9th 2005

3:40 AM

BEAUTIFUL HOPEFUL

The trip Oman was brilliant. It was a work-related three-day trip in which I got stuck in an airplane for three and a half hours, got drenched to the bone with seawater as I rode a rough sea to see some little dolphins and in which I cruised through the beautiful dunes of the Wahbia desert.

 

The landscapes were amazing. The fact that Muscat offers beautiful beaches, high mountains and smooth Sahara sand dunes is something that is ought to satisfy any true traveler. I was privileged to have driven through wadis (valleys) and hills and mountains and into little villages and passing by bedoin folk and tribes.

 

The scenery was transcending. The sight of layer upon layer of mountain tops and smaller hills in the misty background, and the smooth, untouched, wavy sand dunes was breathtaking.

 

Oman, I have gathered in this very short trip, is a place worthy of a couple of visits. I would have loved to see more of it, but time simply did not permit. The Omani people are ever so nice and kind. Very down to earth and friendly and shockingly for a Gulf citizen, they are hard working. You see them in airports, hotels and restaurants, greeting you and welcoming you.

 

I’ll be positing a few photos on my flickr account in a day or two… I’ll need a couple of days to get all the sea salt and sand grains out of my system you see.

 

I also believe that I’ve found inspiration for at least two short stories from my trip to Oman. I think I could come up with some interesting stuff. I will keep you up to date on any progress. So far they are nothing more than ideas floating through my head.

 

Unsurprisingly, Ezrael’s Leaf did not score highly in the Café Doom short stories competition #2. It was rough around the edges at the time of submission. Still, I think it is an interesting concept for a story. Perhaps I will display it on the BeWrite workshop to get some feedback on it.

 

I’m picking up on editing “Moments” (yes that is currently the title of) the collection of short stories. I’m going to be using the help of a couple of acquaintances, including my lovely Karen, who worked on QuixotiQ as well.

 

Also, I believe I have come up with the concept for the cover artwork. I believe it captures the essence of the collection. It’s based on one of my photographs and is designed by (ehm ehm) me. No, I will not show it to you…. yet!

 

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Wednesday, February 2nd 2005

9:13 AM

DING DONG!

  • Music: Dolorean "Violence is Snowy Fields"
  • Cups of Coffee: Three (1 cappucino + 2 blacks)

Big thanks go out to every person who voted for me in the first annual BABAs (Best Arab Blog Awards) and for earning me the Award for Best Bahraini Blog for 2004! You guys rock!

 

I met some really great people through this blog (which I rather call an “online journal”) and have never thought it would be awarded anything. I was reluctant to start it at first, but I though what the heck, might as well give it a shot… glad I did.

 

Been a funny busy few days, during which I had actually penned down a short story. Ezrael’s Leaf was conceived in no more than four days. The idea coming to me out of the blue so to speak, as I laid on my bed gazing up at the room of my room in the dark of the late night.

 

The premise is somewhat bizarre, or outlandish if you like, that concerns death, an old man and a mythical angel by the name of Ezrael. The story has been submitted in a rush to the second short story competition of Café Doom. I had to cut it by more than 100 words to fit it into the category of 1500 limit.

 

One of the organizers of the competition said the story was a “very unusual story (that) had the feel of an old legendary tale.  Impressive!” so I suppose you could say that he liked it. 

 

I was also very happy to learn that a fellow Saudi writer and poet had her poetry collection recently published. Nimah Ismaeel Nawaab, a female writer from Saudi, published her book “The Unfurling” through Selwa Press and form the looks of it seems to be an excellent work of literature.

 

Please pay a visit to her website and show her your support.

 

Now, I’d like to talk about movies. And the movie I’d particularly like to talk about is one that I’ve watched last night called Dogville. The film, put in a word, is… mesmerizing. A captivating piece of filmmaking based solely on the strength of the cast performances and the brilliance storytelling powers of writer/director Lars Von Trier.

 

It is simply a masterpiece. The story itself is moving, dark, sweet, funny, and very disturbing. I believe Von Trier managed to create an in-depth study of the human condition at its highest form of vulnerability.

 

It’s romantic in more than the usual sense of the word, in that it delves into the philosophical and moral complexities of the human spirit in an intimate fashion and brings out the best of worst in us. Every character in this story is magnificently depicted and brought to life by the remarkably, extraordinary cast.

 

Nicole Kidman, who I truly and passionately believe is the finest and greatest actress of our time, delivers yet another top-notch performance. Only Kidman can portray Grace as she is and was. Only Kidman can be brave enough to go out there and bare her weaknesses and vulnerability and take on a role such as this. I could not take my eyes off of her, every expression, every look, every move… her elegance radiates through the screen.

 

I salute Von Trier for his courage in creating a film like this, shot as if it were a play, performed on a stage, Dogville is “illustration” of what filmmaking can be like… innovative, creative and original. And I can see his point in this method… throughout the 2 hours and 53 minutes, he never loses the attention of the audience.

 

I suppose I could go on and go about this film but I won’t… ain’t that a relief for you lot?!

 

Anyways, my thanks again to those who voted for me in the BABAs, the award is yours!

 

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