Category: Everyday Me

Tunisia, Canada, Elections And I – Quick Reflections

Unfortunately, I haven’t been writing as much as I used to or want to on here; a combination of being busy with life and work, distracted by the rise of Twitter and me getting tired of following the daily news of the world for a while.

Anyway, in the past few months, true to my inner nomadic nature, we’ve picked up and moved again, this time from Dubai, UAE to Ontario, Canada. We’ve settled down in the city of Mississauga, part of the Greater Toronto Area, and things have been going good so far; almost settled down.

During the period that I’ve been here, a revolution took place back home in Tunisia, which then started spreading across the Arab world; while over here in Canada, the country was plunged into an unscheduled national election, which has been very interesting to witness for me.

I don’t get to vote in the elections here, but still, I’ve been following the campaign very closely, watching the debates both in English and French, looking at the platforms the political parties are putting forward, watching interviews with leaders and MPs, reading opinion pieces and blogs, and making my own opinions on issues and who I’d vote for if I were able to.

I have to say, I’ve been truly enjoying the whole process; maybe it’s because I never got to experience something similar back home in Tunisia, or maybe it’s because I’m living here now and actually do care about who will take over power and what they’ll do with it, or most probably it’s a combination of both.

However, and even though the Canadian election system might not be entirely perfect, I always find myself thinking every time: how I wish we could have something like this in Tunisia; how I wish we could have real engaging debates, real talk shows and reports asking the hard questions, very well written opinion pieces and analysis published in the media, …etc.

How I wish we Tunisians could go into an election we don’t already know the results for!
This year hopefully we will, on July 24th 2011, Tunisians will get to vote and choose a constituent assembly that will rewrite the constitution and chart the country’s transition and future.
The hope is that the interim government, political parties and Tunisian media step up to the plate and give us a great free election experience that opens the doors for a better and more mature political system in the country.

It’s going to be a real challenge because neither the people, nor the officials in the current government, nor the leaders of the political parties, and especially not the Tunisian media have any experience with a free and democratic election; but this is the occasion to go for it, aim for the stars, learn as we go and make Tunisia the first Arab country to hold truly democratic elections that produce results that represent the will of the people.

As citizens our responsibility is to find out as much as we can about every party, what they stand for, what their plans are and to push the media for better coverage and reporting on the elections and require the government and parties to provide higher transparency on every issue. So let’s make sure we all go out and do that.

Oh and on a final separate note, for those of you who are curious who I’d vote for if I could in Canada; well even though the Liberal Party of Canada is generally more aligned with my ideas and opinions, I’d vote for the NDP (New Democratic Party) because their leader Jack Layton won me over in the debates and I believe he would make a better Prime Minister and leader for Canada.

RIP Michael Jackson, Legendary Musical Genius And King Of Pop

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson, the legendary musical genius and king of pop has passed away at the age of 50 after suffering a fatal heart attack.

I learned the news this morning by accident while I was on IMDB looking for a review about a movie. While the site was redirecting me to the search results page, I saw the news on the right hand column, and I froze. I couldn’t believe it. It couldn’t be possible. Michael Jackson can’t just die like that!

Of course he’s not going to live forever and neither is any one of us; but he can’t just die like that!

Michael Jackson isn’t just anybody, he is a music legend by all standards, his songs were the soundtrack for a whole generation’s best moments growing up, his sound is as enjoyable and awesome today as it ever was.

I can’t remember one childhood or teenage memory of mine without a Michael Jackson song dominating the charts and breaking new ground with its musical style and its video going steps further than anyone else.

We went out for a drive a bit earlier and we played The Essential Michael Jackson album that was released a few years ago with some of his greatest hits, and a flood of memories came back to my wife and I, and it struck us how songs he wrote a decade or two ago still sound amazing, fresher and more creative than any song out there.

There never was, is or will be anyone like him; a perfect performer, entertainer and musical genius.

Everybody knew Michael Jackson, from all generations, in every little corner of the world. He was the ultimate celebrity.

Michael Jackson the man might have died, but Michael Jackson the legend will live forever through his music that will continue to entertain for generations, and will continue to be as fresh and exciting as it was the day it was released. He will live forever through the memories of a whole generation of people who grew up with his music, trying to moonwalk just like him, buying jackets and gloves like his, watching in endless admiration whenever he performed.

I was a fan, through his great days when everyone was crazy about him, and through the hard times when it felt like everyone turned against him and started calling him a freak. I am still a fan, and always will be. I enjoyed and still enjoy every single album he released. Michael Jackson and his music will always hold a special place in my heart and in my household.

To this day, it’s still eating me up from inside that I wasn’t able to attend his concert in Tunisia, that happened just days after I moved to Jordan in 1996. Now, I’ll never get the chance to ever see the King of Pop live, an experience of a lifetime.

Rest in peace Michael Jackson; We love you; you’ll always be remembered and missed.
The world has lost an irreplaceable King.

Subzero Blue Photography Section Launched

Seeing as Flickr is now totally blocked here in the UAE, the only options I had were to either move to another service or do what I’ve been wanting do to for a long time and launch a dedicated photography section under Subzero Blue.

So today, I took a bit of time to install pixelpost, and create a spot for my photography here: Subzero Blue Photography.

I didn’t move all the photos I have on Flickr to here; just the ones I enjoyed the most (either the end result, or the process of taking the photo).

After a busy period with me not taking that many photos, I’m hoping to have more time to take more photos from now on, and the best of them should be shared on this new photolog.

For those outside the UAE, my Flickr account will still be active, hosting my older photos.

Subzero Blue Photography

Flickr Now Totally Blocked In The UAE

Today, Du followed the lead of Etisalat and went ahead and blocked the photo sharing service Flickr, meaning that Flickr is now no longer accessible from the UAE through any of the ISPs.
I’m guessing it’s because of all the x-rated material that is available on Flickr. But, it’s not like blocking Flickr is going to stop people who look for that kind of material from finding it.

This totally sucks! All my photos are hosted on Flickr where I have a pro account, and now I’m unable to access my photos or upload any new ones because of this.

In fact, before even moving to Dubai, my mind was made up that I’d go for an internet connection with Du and not Etisalat, specifically because of Flickr, and now they’ve gone ahead and let me and so many other people down with this move.

The following is the message anyone on Du will face when they try to access Flickr starting this afternoon.

Du Block

I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do for my photos now and whether I’ll just join another service or just launch a photo blog section here under Subzero Blue. I’m currently leaning towards the latter option; at least that way I’ll have more control over my photos. Will keep you updated.

My New Year Kicks Off In Dubai

For me and my little family, January 1st 2009 was ushered in really quickly with a little break between preparing my luggage, organizing a bunch of papers and coming close to panicking, as only 5 hours into the new year I was heading to the airport to move to Dubai.

The one great thing about traveling on January 1st and so early in the morning is that not that many people are mad enough to do it, and so I ended up on a Tunisair A319 Airbus plane with only 22 other passengers, which meant more space for everyone, and a more pleasant flight.

Almost 6 hours later I landed at the Dubai International Airport, where things went quite smoothly. Once out of the airport though, it took me a while to get to the company apartment as the taxi driver had no idea where it was.  Anyway, once there I was greeted with an awesome view from the apartment balcony. The bad thing though is that there’s no way I’ll be able to get a view like it when I actually rent an apartment of my own.

Night At The Marina

On my second day here, just 24 hours after landing in the city, I got to attend my first meetup, which was a WordPress meetup, where I got to meet a bunch of cool people, some I already met last time I was here, others I only knew online through Twitter, and some I was getting to know for the first time.
Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress, was also present at the meetup, so it was really cool to meet him here.

I also got to check out the Ibn Battuta mall really quickly yesterday, and was pleasantly surprised to see they had a Tunisia-themed court, which was pretty cool. 

Anyway, my main priority now is to get my residency sorted out quickly so I can sponsor my wife and son to join me here asap. I’ll also be on the lookout for some good/cheap apartments in the areas around Dubai Internet City, so if anyone knows of any good deals, do let me know.

Another point on my mind is getting a driver’s license to be able to get a car; I’m hoping that won’t be much of a pain.

Other than that, I’m looking forward to the adventure that is living and working in Dubai, hoping it will be some good fun and that I’ll be meeting lots and lots of very interesting people.

One Chapter Ends, Another Begins…

Today was my last day at work, bringing an end to another chapter in my professional life, turning a new page for me to pen some new experiences on, launching a new adventure for me, a new quest.

The last day at a job is a very emotional one for me, especially when you’ve made so many great friends there, bonded with so many people, shared countless unforgettable moments, and became part of a really warm family.

I hate goodbyes, and today I had to say goodbye to a number of people I’ve truly come to love over the past years, people I used to see every single day, and spend a big part of my life with.

The decision to leave was no easy one, in fact far from that, especially because of all the great people, but nothing lasts forever I guess, and I just reached a point where I had to move on professionally, take on new challenges, learn new things, and build another layer of experience to get me closer to my final goal.

To all my friends and team-mates, I’d truly like to thank you all for the beautiful moments we shared, for the good times we had, the bad times we pulled through together, for every single thing you did for me, for being awesome, for being such an important part of my life.
I’ll never forget you, and will always cherish the memories we’ve created together.

Well, what next for me? The next step for me is quite a big one. On top of leaving a job, I’ll also be leaving my country Tunisia, jumping aboard a plane to a new destination, putting up my weathered nomad’s tent in yet another country, where I’ll be taking on a new exciting adventure, meeting new people, making new friends and writing another chapter of my life, full of hope it’ll be a rich and fulfilling one. Next week I move to Dubai.

I’ll be writing more about that on here as it happens, documenting the move, my exploration of Dubai, and sharing my thoughts and experiences.

Until then, I’ll count on you for a little wish of good luck, I’ll be needing it.

Subzero Blue Migrated To WordPress

After over five years of running Subzero Blue on version 2.661 of Movable Type, which is a great blogging platform, I decided to switch it over to WordPress, which is the software all my other blogs run on, in order to better organize things and harmonize them for me.

The main challenge was to try and not break permalinks with the migration, so that all incoming links from other websites or from search engines would still work fine, and through some research and a few acrobacies, I was able to keep the same urls for all the old posts, just like they were created in Movable Type.

Another important point was to keep the same design for the time being, and considering the really short time I’ve put into this, I think I’ve managed to keep the design pretty similar to the one I used on Movable Type, I’d say 85% similar or a bit more, with just a few details that are different.
But that’s not all that important really, it’s just temporary, as I’m planning to rethink the blog and redesign it very very soon.

The blog is now running on WordPress 2.7 RC1, which should be updated to the final 2.7 version once it’s released.

Please do let me know if you encounter anything that is broken, and I’ll do my best to get it back to normal as quickly as possible.

Stop Kissing Children Who Aren’t Yours!

What is it with people who give themselves the right to kiss other people’s children without their permission?

It’s very common here in Tunisia, and I don’t know what screwed up logic these people are following that says they can kiss a child without even asking their parents first?

They just lean down on the child, or pick them up, kiss them straight on the cheek, if not on the mouth sometimes, and then go on normally with their lives as if nothing ever happened!

It’s just so normal to them, it’s as if that’s the natural way to react when there’s a baby/child around.
And it sometimes even feels like you’re wrong for being annoyed by it.

But it seriously pisses me off. I swear I feel like punching their head in each time.

It’s impolite, very rude and totally unacceptable!

Do they ever think about the parents and if they’re comfortable with some stranger coming up to their child and kissing them?
Do they ever put themselves in the parents’ shoes? How would they feel about it?
Don’t they think the parents would rather not have some stranger kissing their child?
Don’t they think the parents would rather not have some sick stranger passing on whatever viruses and germs they have to their child?

I’ve been seeing this for ages, even before having a child of my own, and it always annoyed me, and I saw how uncomfortable it made parents.
And now that I have a child of my own and go through this whenever we’re out and about, the last time being today at the park, it annoys me so much more.

I just needed to get this off my chest. But so help me god, the next person who’s even going to try it is going to get one hell of a tell-off by me.

Ramadan Mubarak To Everyone

Today is the first day of the holy month of Ramadan in Tunisia and in most other Muslim countries (Libya and Nigeria started yesterday).

It’s a month of fasting, praying, reading the Koran and worship for some people; and a month of eating, sleeping, watching TV, and eating some more for others.

So to everyone, no matter what this month ahead means to them exactly, I’d like to wish you a blessed Ramadan; and may it be a happy and great month for you all.

Ramadan Kareem

Is That Your Son?

Last night, after some quick shopping at Geant (TunisCity’s hyper market), just after paying, putting everything back into the cart, and seating Adam in the cart’s child seat; a security guy came up to me, pointed at some point behind me and asked if the boy he was pointing at was my son.

What was really weird is that I actually turned around, looked at the boy and then replied that he wasn’t my son.

As I was saying the words, I realized how stupid and absent-minded that all was; I mean, I just seated my only son in the cart in front of me, but then there I was looking behind me to see if some other kid was my son.

Eman laughed her head off at me, joking that I must have some hidden secret.

All I could think of is “Damn, I really need that vacation!”