The Seven Lives of Kittens

Cats are certainly the great winners of the Covid-19 pandemic. In times of collective anxiety and personal distress, increasingly more people have discovered the pleasures of owning a cat.

Cats fool us by presenting them as innocents, sensible, and vulnerable fluffy creatures. Their tiny, pinky rose noses pick up the finest fragrances. They rotate their ears, like some professional antenna, to pick up the softest sounds. You can see curiosity dilating in their sharp eyes.

Everybody think of cats as being lovely and pretty. In reality, cats are little monsters who get to own our entire life. They are the true masters of the household. They decide when it is time to play, to groom, to eat, and even to disturb their servant-owners.

They are little destroyers of everything around. According to an ancient myth, cats have multiple lives. In Arabic culture – seven; Romanians are more generous and give them two extra lives. Each one of these seven lives describes a particular personality.

The first personality consists of a needy, humbled, and fluffy playmate. The second life gives them an invisible crown of imperial superiority. The third life reveals their evil souls as baby-face killers. The fourth personality feature makes them supremely arrogant and proud.

Fifth, they can be flattering and manipulative creatures. Sixth, they have a “mommy” personality, in that they can feel your pain and know how to take care of your misery. And finally, they are Mr. and Mrs. Clean, who are obsessed with self-hygiene and make us, humans, look dirty by comparison.

The Curse of Womanhood

To be a woman in Arabic culture is a curse: everything had taught us explicitly and implicitly to be obedient. It is our duty as daughters, wives, and mothers to accept the authority of the men surrounding us, be they our fathers, our uncles, or our brothers.

To be a woman in Arabic culture is a curse: everything had taught us explicitly and implicitly to be obedient.

The author

I have heard many Arabic women being grateful to men, saying that “we do have rights: we are entitled to study at universities, my parents did not beat me and listened to my opinions, they gave me the right to marry, etc.” But all these are quite banal rights when we relate them to men. They are not thought of as “rights” until they are extended to women. 

There are a lot of daily rituals of oppression that render Arabic women obedient persons. All those small and tiny details of everyday life in a traditional family, such as taking permission to leave home, asking permission to hang out with friends, or having to wait for your father and set up the table for him – indicates women’s submission to the authority of men. They also make the men the center around which women’s lives gravitate and under whom their existence gains purpose and sense.

A woman, Sibiu, Romania

Women’s inferior status within the household and the family is also written in law. It is notorious that, based on the teaching in Quran, the legal system in many Arabic countries require that a man’s testimony is equal to that of three women, as if a man’s human worth is equal to three females.

Every gesture hides behind it the traces of a disgusting patriarchal system. What contributes to its reproduction is men’s power to uphold their domination. But, equally important, is women’s beliefs that such a life of submission is normal for them. Moreover, love for your husband, father, and brothers is spelled out as a duty to submission.

Street art, Florence, Italy

Every gesture hides behind it the traces of a disgusting patriarchal system.

In Arabic culture, to love your husband and father means to show them respect, first and foremost, by accepting their judgment and behaving accordingly. On the other hand, it should be crystal-clear that freedom does not mean open relationships or superficial acts of disobedience such as wearing short clothes that exposes parts of your skin.

I started this text by emphasizing that womanhood is a curse for many females from the Arabic culture and well beyond. But it is not only men who are responsible for this situation. It is women’s acceptance of living obedient lives that makes the patriarchy and masculine domination possible. Being a woman may turn out to be a curse in disguise. It is our duty to transform womanhood into a blessing!

Being a woman may turn out to be a curse in disguise. It is our duty to transform womanhood into a blessing!

Sensitivity of Neighbors

It is hard to imagine life without sounds, phrases, laughs, and even many quarrels. In my view, an acoustic dystopia is not a world full of noise, but a soundless existence.

Living your life freely in your home corners does not mean you are intruding into the privacy of others. Sometimes, happiness can be a bit noisy. Just like a spontaneous laughter, or a snappy scrap with your partner.

Such behavior is not targeting the peace of your neighbors. However, when they admonish you for disturbing them, they are the ones who do not respect your privacy. They also disrespect your moments of happiness. Moreover, they can also destroy your moments of sadness.

One reason why some neighbors cannot tolerate a bit of noisy happiness or a round a rattling quarreling is a kind of envy rooted in the fact that they live an unsocial life trapped in continuous silence.

Loudness certainly has a limit. I am not encouraging anyone to trespass that limit. But social life is inherently noisy. One of its many charms consists exactly in this noisiness. Just as there is an upper limit for loudness, we should also recognize that there is similar limit for silence.

Like in so many other aspects, the golden path is to find the fine balance between loudness and silence, between respecting the peace of your neighbors and the latter respecting the privacy of your moments.

The Silly Celebration of the Broken Hearts

There is a day when hearts are broken more than any other day of the year. It happens so because everybody puts all their hopes and invest all their affection in this very day. The uses and abuses of Valentine’s Day throughout recent history have depleted this celebration of love from its highest meanings and turned it into an empty ritual of exchanging senseless gifts.

It has become a trademark that requires victims willing to sacrifice their feelings and hopes materialized in a few reddish branded gifts. Such gifts are free of love and empty-shells containing not a whit of tenderness. Instead of acting as media of love, their only function is to satisfy the need of attention of those who observe this ritual of superficial love.

Indeed, the history of this day has nothing to do with the contemporary meaning of Valentine’s Day, filled, as it is, with romantic and quite erotic accents of love. In the first centuries of Christianity, during the Roman Empire, many Christians were murdered for their faith. Many Valentines have died for believing in Christ, but it was Valentine of Rome – who was martyred on 14th of February 269 AD – that gave his name to what has become a global celebration of love. It is one of the ironies of history that a gruesome death endured by a martyr of faith has escaped Christianity and turned into a commercial celebration of romantic love worldwide.

Selling hearts in Sibiu’s main avenue

Genuine love doesn’t need a day for itself in the calendar. It cannot be contained and celebrated in a time-frame of twenty-four hours. It is spread all across it. True to its religious roots, Valentine’s Day should be celebrated daily, as genuine love is an everyday sacrifice of the self for the love of your heart.

A Recipe of Liquid Happiness

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I am quite confident that we cannot express what we feel or what we taste without exaggerating our impressions.

The presence of coffee in our lives is a gift from nature. It is also a gift of life since coffee makes people create around it an entire world of meaningful traditions that come to define who we are and to what culture we belong.

From this perspective, each person reflects herself through her relationship with coffee. Sipping that magical aroma is a daily ritual in which we not only refresh our senses early in the morning; it is also something we do to gather ourselves every time we fall apart and every time we rejoice.

Sipping that magical aroma is a daily ritual in which we not only refresh our senses early in the morning;

Against these considerations, I would love to share from my own tradition of coffee making and drinking. Here are some of the daily rituals that would perhaps enjoy sharing with me:

  • I usually make my coffee in a traditional pot. After I bring the water to the boiling point, I add the magical brownish powder and turn down the fire so as to slowly swell the liquid until it wants to escape the pot.
  • One of the most important – indeed, sacred – things is when I pour the first cup of coffee. If I’m lucky enough in that day, I will get the first cup of coffee, with all that foam in whose rich shapes one could exercise her skills of reading into the future.
  • Another part of this sacred ritual of everyday life is to sip my coffee and enjoy its flavor with its sweet-bitter taste that takes me to inner places of relaxation and tranquility.
  • And, not least, drink the coffee in the mug that matches your feelings and personality. Coffee always tastes better when I sip it from the mug that echoes wonderful memories and reminds me of the ones I love.

Monster of social relations

I’ve seen a lot of people around me destroying their relationships and social life by simply looking at that bright, illuminated screen. That beautiful small monster which steals away from us the most graceful moments of our lives. We called this little, but all-mighty monster, the smartphone.

Here are six tips to get rid of the bad habits by which the little monster stitches his teeth in our social life.

  • After waking up early in the morning, resist grabbing your phone with you in the bathroom. This will give you some time for yourself to recollect your thoughts. And you will also avoid dropping your phone in the toilet.
  • Enjoy your morning coffee without your monster. You can watch TV news staying with one of your family members, which is always more fun than drinking in the cold company of that little monster.
  • Set back and relax: after returning from work, give yourself some time and leave the phone in the bag. If you lie down in the bedroom, make sure you are away from the noise of the virtual word screaming inside the little monster. Instead, watch a nice movie – preferably with some friends – and just forget about him for the time being.
  • Drink a hot chocolate with a cool book in your hands.
  • Socialize: when you go out with friends, respect yourself (and your friends) by putting your phone aside.
  • Get involved in various activities in your city such as volunteering or learning new things. Sports and physical workout could also become your best friends.

The lost girl who found her way in Sibiu

It is the harsh life that forces you to tear apart every one of your dreams that you once wanted to achieve or only thought you could achieve. It is the tyrannical war that destroys any beautiful thing and obliterates one’s timeless memories, to the last threads of optimism in life. It shatters your soul in pieces and ruins the future and lives of millions of people.

And in all this mess and human misery, miracles can occur. Call it fate, God, or unknown forces – but I was thrown away in a mountain town in the center of Romania, a city which embraced me together with the pain I felt for my country, my sorrow for my future, which I could not see becoming true in my homeland, Syria.

This picturesque and medieval city – Sibiu, or Hermannstadt as it was once called – has laid new strings of hope and re-ignited my heart with love and ambition. It was within its twisted narrow streets and charming houses that I found my lost path.

The city buzzes with social life and its never-ending activities absorb you in its routines. Its roads filled with charm breath history. This is one reason why Sibiu became the capital of European culture in 2007 and continued to be a capital of culture through its festivals such as Sibiu International Theatre Festival, Sibiu Fashion Days, Sibiu Jazz Festival, and many more.

I embraced Sibiu and Sibiu embraced me back. If Sibiu is written on a part of my inner self, this is because the city has provided me with many opportunities to pursue my studies and construct a professional career. Perhaps it is neither the best, nor the only city in the world that offers such opportunities, but it gave me what I was striving most for: a sense of personal satisfaction and inner peace.

To find out and discover more about my adoptive city Sibiu:

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