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Showing posts with label gathering. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gathering. Show all posts

Friday, September 18, 2015

long story: Chit chat on the Oriental Express Café: Chapter 2: Religions

Chit chat on the Oriental Express Café
By: Aadel M Al-Mhady

Chapter 2: Religions

Interrupting them, Memmis, the assistant manager, came in the conference room wearing a broad smile on his face and a big apron with an oversized pocked in the. He held a pen and a pad in his hand. Quickly, he scanned the group with his eyes. He knew who always wanted what. “Yes, gentlemen, is it the usual or am I going to take different orders?” he asked the group. “The usual and don’t forget my pack of smokes!” said Ben Ya-Quob in pure Egyptian accent ─ Dawoud Ben Ya-Quob is an American Jew whose family left Egypt for New York in the USA long time ago. Although he lived in Israel for a few years, he always yearned for visiting Egypt, his birthplace; a matter that became possible after a peace treaty has been signed between Egypt and Israel. As much as Ben Ya-Quob supports the Zionist state of Israel and her right to exist, he condemns the Israeli governments for all the crimes they are committing against the Palestinians.

Memmis popped his head out of the door and announced the order, “One local beer for Mr. Bale and make sure it is very cold, hot fenugreek, whole, not ground for Mr. Al-Ghazali, hot cocoa with milk and marshmallow for Mr. Osamah, and make sure the tea for Mr. Al-Dhamanhouri is strong and medium sweet, and as usual Mr. Al-Bahrawi would like his cold liquorice from the fresh batch, and make sure the froth of the Turkish coffee of Mr. Ben Ya-Quob, Mr. Khorshed and Mr. Al-Husseiny is still intact and sweetness minimal, and one caraway for Mr. Bahloul, and one Anis for Mr. Salibah, and please don’t forget his Marlboro smokes!” Osamah said, “Memmis, I suggest, you make it a standing order…print it out and post it on the wall beside Dhabbourah, and whenever we want the same, we will say the “usual. So will you to Dhabbourah” Memmis said, “Good!” and then looked at Ben Ya-Quob and asked, “Is that all for now?” Ben Ya-Quob replied, “Ah, on your way out, don’t forget to hang the do-not-disturb sign on the door!”

“You have not lost the Egyptian slang or the accent, Dawoud, though you have been away for a long time. You still have the lisp. Remember when we were kids? I used to tease you?” Al-Bahrawi said as soon as Memmis swung his body out closing the door behind him. “Oh, yes, how can I forget? What sweet days! You know, I looked for that dead-ended street where I used to live but when I found it, it did not look the same” said Ben Ya-Quob. “Except one thing” Al-Bahrawi said.  Ben Ya-Quob became so curious. Al-Bahrawi then said, “The name...though the government gave it a different one, people still remembered the place by its old name” Ben Ya-Quob said, “Haretel-Yahoud” Al-Bahrawi confirmed, “Yes”.

Sitting back in his chair and waiting patiently until everybody settled down, Ahmad Al-Ghazali ─  an eloquent postgraduate student studying law at Ein-Shams University ─  pushed his crooked hat down to make it sit well on his head and resumed his conversation that was interrupted by Memmis, “I am not a philosopher or a theologist. I am no an atheist, either. I do believe in God whom I think of as the father of all things. Nevertheless I am an evolutionist. I am a free thinker whose mind is open to receive, discern and then absorb. My four criteria for weighing things are my instinct, my experience, logic and science” ─  “What is your say on religions, then?” asked Al-Dhamanhouri ─ Hussam Al-Dhamanhouri is a student at Al-Azhar, studying Hebrew   ─  “Manuals written for young humanity to seek guidance therein and to maintain its physical self and spiritual self” Al-Ghazali said. “Who are the manuals authors?” Al-Bahrawi, who finally decided to lower his bucket into the well of discussion and scoop some of its water, then asked. “Whoever created the universe and all that is therein” Al-Ghazali said, “You may call it the Universe, the Force, Allah, Yahweh, Amon, Ra. These are all different Name-Masks” Al-Bahrawi asked, “If that’s true, why then under the banner of religion we see all sorts of atrocities are committed?” ─ Ahmad Al-Bahrawi is a student in the American University, studying business administration ─ “A good question and mostly answered incorrectly” Al-Ghazali said. “What do you mean?” Al-Bahrawi asked. “To answer correctly, one should not only talk of the religion” Al-Ghazali said, “but also of the follower of the religion, the time, the culture, the geographical location where the religion was proclaimed and of any other factors one may deem important to take into consideration” Al-Ghazali added. “Can you further explain?” Al-Dhamanhouri asked. Al-Ghazali explained, moving his hands all the time in affirmative gestures, “For instance, do not judge a religion by contemporary established criteria but by universal ones or the criteria of the time during which a religion was proclaimed. The laws were provided to suite their current culture; their geographical and social issues.  We should not also judge a religion by its followers, but the followers by their religion. Napoleon was Christian but committed crimes against humanity, so did Muslim Timor leng, and neither of the two religions encourage killing” Al-Bahrawi asked, “Why did they commit these atrocities then?” Al-Ghazali answered, “For reasons other than what the religion dictates, for reasons the people who committed those crimes, through their literal interpretation of the words, believed they were true, or they had just grabbed the words by the nick and twisted them to suit their own selfish or extreme purposes, or because of a political or personal agenda”

Memmis opened the door; signs ow worries on his face, and said, "Gentlemen, is there a doctor in the house? 

Chapter not yet complete

Thursday, September 17, 2015

LONG STORY: Chit Chat on the Oriental Express Café: Chapter 1: The Oriental Express Café

Chit Chat on the Oriental Express Café
By: Aadel M Al-Mahdy

Chapter 1: The Oriental Express Café

The Oriental Internet café is a place where they meet once a week; a group of intellectual adults of different education, religions and nationalities. They gather together to discuss freely and honestly a variety of topics; everyone does according to his own personal view whether such view is moderate or extreme, with no grudge held or insult taken.

Located in Al-Azhar Street and owned and run by Dhabbourah Abu-Ali who is assisted by Memmis Al-Halawani and his little army of waiters; Zuklah, Halambas, Abu-Sinnah, Ukashah and Zeiner-Rigaal, the Café is of a considerable size, furnished with tables and chairs inside and outside on the terrace. The inside is composed of a big hall with a large Satellite TV monitor, a moderate size room on the right hand furnished with internet computers and a printer,  and a conference room in the back equipped with a medium size TV monitor, one internet computer, a small printer, tables and seats. In this room they meet once a week not interrupted by the outside world. Lavatories are located next to the conference room.

The renovated café is clean, air-conditioned and well-ventilated to combat the smoke clouds created by the Shishahs’ customers. A whole array of oriental hot and cold soft drinks is served in the cafe; tea, Turkish coffee, salep, carob, caraway, whole and ground Fenugreek, anise, kakady, cocoa, liquorices and the likes. Small dishes of sweets like meshmishiyyah, mihallabiyyah, rice pudding and custards are also served. No alcohol, except for local and imported beer, is served. A variety of dishes of nuts and delicious pickles always accompanied the beer.

Before modernization, the café was frequently raided by the police for suspicion of drug deals. In fact a stone throw behind the café lies Al-Bateniyyah quarter where Cairo active drug lords lived. Also at almost the same distance from the café stand Al-Hussein Mosque and Al-Azhar Mosque supplemented by the second oldest functioning university in the world, Al-Azhar University.

While Osamah was sitting in the terrace of the café having his hot whole-fenugreek drink and waiting for the rest of his friends to show up, the same man came in and sat quietly in a corner inside the café far from the shishahs’ smokes and the clients’ commotion. Osamah saw him once before. The man was in his early forties, neatly dressed in meticulously clean and pressed pair of trousers. Grey hair invaded the pitch black hair of his head that was covered by a white Egyptian Takiyyah. His trimmed beard was not exaggeratedly long. He was a handsome man of medium height whose facial features looked so relaxed and eyes so serene as though he was in an ecstatic state of content.

When Halambas passed by, Osamah held his sleeve, bent forward and whispered curiously in his ear, pointing stealthily to the man who aroused his curiosity, “Who is that man?”

“He is Sheikh Ali, the Dervish. Thank you for pointing him out to me” Halambus whispered back to Osamah and then turned around and loudly announced, “And prepare one hot whole-anise drink, and make sure it is extra sweet for our beloved Sheikh Ali and also be doubly sure it is on the house” Osamah asked Halambas who was about to leave, “Wait! Why do you call him the dervish? He does not look like one. Halambus said, “He is a Dervish all right and sometimes he slips into peaceful fits and mumbles mysterious words which Dhabbourah consider as blessings to the café” Osamah exclaimed, but asked Halambas, “Seized by fits, sometimes!”, “Is he sick, or mad?” Halambas answered before left, “Neither! He is just a dervish”

A man pressing on little pieces of burning charcoal on top of his tobacco roll and diligently sucking in an intermittent manner on the stem of his shishah hose looked at Osamah and smiled. Osamah smiled back, moving his hands in the air in a certain way signaling his confusion. The man then said after clearing his lungs from the retained shishah’s smokes, “He’s one of those blessed who are into religious things” Osamah asked, “Does he Hallucinate?” but the man quickly said, trying to explain himself by means of gesticulating, “No! Maybe... Religious hallucination…I mean…You know, those mysterious things” Osamah said, “Ah, you mean mystic things Feeling a relief, the man smiled and nodded before mildly having a round of short dry coughs. Osamah thanked him, and then stood up to got to the conference room to await his friends. On his way to the conference room Osamah passed by the dervish who mumbled when their eyes met, “One, One, He is One and the only One. He is alive, alive and never dies” Zeiner-Rigaal who brought a glass of water to the dervish said, “Here is the water you demanded, Sheikh Ali. Allah makes it taste in your mouth like honey” Ten minutes later Osamah’s friends started to show up one by one.