Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kobe Business Trip in Picture

Last morning in Kobe city and how thrilled I am to see my kids and loves again, enshala. This was possible because of M's strength and support and thank God for Face Time! Hoping to explore the city again and next time with my family I hope!

View of Kobe station from my room

Lunch at work

Sannomia down town

Life Savers in the Heat

To finda dairy was a hunt

The best Sushi place ever!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Kyoto on One Rainy Day

Fascinated by the Japanese history and architect, I muse in town of Kyoto.  We took the Shinkansen train from Shin-Kobe to Kyoto and it took us less than 30 minutes for a 80Km trip including a stop at Osaka. We had reserved a Sunrise Tour with Nijo Castle for the first stop.

I feel intrigued to study Japan's history now. I marveled in the symbols and clever designs including the so called nightingale floors which squeak as you walk on them in order to notify presence of an intruder. As the tour guide explains the dress codes for samurai and emperor I think to myself what a hierarchical society it has been! In the castle there were some rooms with maquette of samurai people carrying two swords and also of an emperor and shoguns the figures of which reminded me of the old cartoon we used to watch on TV in Iran, the Tale of Three  Brothers. In one room there were the ladies, all in beautiful kimonos, all carrying a small sword. Our guide explained that the sword was not for protection in case they were invaded, but to kill themselves to protect their honor in case an enemy approached them!

It has started raining cats and dogs now...

We visited Kitano shrine in the rain, the kind with a bell to call for God and many talisma to wear based on your wish and dreams.

Kikaku or the Golden Pavilion was mesmerizing with beautiful Japanese gardens surrounding a Golden temple.

Got a lecture on the difference between Shinto shrine versus Buddhist temple with the Shinyo shrine being oranges with an entrance gate and also with a bell to call te Shinto God while the Budist temple has neither of these.

Afternoon was filled with visiting the Heian Jingu Shrine which resembled Chinese temples to me with it's red colors and dragon and tiger symbols, the temple of Sanjusangendo with a renowned long wooden hall housing 1001 status of Kannon, and the temple of Kiyomizu which was atop a tall hill.

Of this all I was most fascinated by the 1001 Statues of Kannon.  There were thirteen guardians for the statues almost all of which were Indian deities except for one, which was Ahura Mazda, the ancient Persian Diety of Goodness. I never would have anticipated this!  Unfortunately it was prohibited to take pictures and after some time searching failed to find good notes in English. I'm so intrigued to go back to this one. With my family enshala :)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Japan Day 5

Respectful people
Busy trains
Hot humid weather
Tasty food
Expressionless pedestrians
Deafening cicadas
These have been my observation of Kobe, Japan, in the past few days in July. I wake up early in the morning and go for a run in the hot humid early morning weather, listening to the defeaning sound of cicadas.
On this day 5, which is also a Saturday, my colleague and I got a local guide being a colleague's daughter. Her name is Akiyo. Such a nice young lady. She chaperoned us to Rokko Mountain Music Box Museum. It had been an incredible journey going up the steep mountain by a cable car.  The serene and pure scenery makes one instantly feel calm and content, so pure I found myself praying.

The antique museum of music boxes is inviting making me yearn for my family even more. There is a beautiful little garden in the back of the building with a Lillie pad filled pond.

We got to listen to a "concert" when some of the music boxes were put in play.

It's hot, serene, beautiful and I wish for my family!

Friday, July 25, 2014


Scene: A father at a morgue clinging to his killed daughter crying softly not letting go...
How can this happen?
How can one endure watching this?
How can how can one cause this?
How can one live with himself after committing this?
How cruel can man be?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My First Trip to Japan

I left home with a heavy heart. Saying goodbyes was too hard, hardest than ever indeed. The flight direction didn't help either. The fact that we set off over the Pacific Ocean  heading to an island called Japan made me feel further away from my family.  I found my tears welling in my eyes a few times during the 11+ hours of trip forcing me to want to keep busy.
We left at 11AM and arrived at 3PM after 11 hours of chasing the sun.
The hot and humid weather of Osaka airport welcomed us. It was hard to breathe in the thick air. It took us another 45min of cab ride to arrive at Kobe city all the while passing industrial ports and areas.
Our hotel is located on the Kobe Port Island. The room was conveniently air conditioned which was a blessing. After a short rest we headed for dinner at a local buffet which served American food.
So far based on my observation,the cost of goods are comparable to US.
I slept from 8:30pm to 1:15am. It was hard to sleep after that.
First day of work has been filled with presentations and meetings. Espesifically we attended an all Japanese seminar.  Jet lag kicked in too early that afternoon.
I got to face time with family which was both happy and sad.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Sorrows of The Time

She is smiling into my eyes beaming her baby teeth at me.  Her saliva is running from her mouth.  I just fed her a quarter of a grape.  I look into her deep brown cheerful eyes and I wonder, when was the last time that mother fed her baby a piece of fruit?  Is she lactating still?  Or she has lost the magical power to the sorrows of the time?  After all she was forced out of her house.  She grabbed whatever she could thinking mainly of her little one, leaving her life behind to shelter in a school.  There are 50,000 of them.  How many schools are there in that tiny strip?  I wonder how they bathe, how they eat, how they feed their children.
Then I look into my daughters eyes.  Still smiling.  Oblivious to all the sorrows of the time.  My son is playing "Transformers" on the other side of the living room.  He shouts "I am a tank now".  I walk to him and hear myself telling him: "my dear son!  If there is one word I would use the word 'hate' to describe my feelings toward, it is WAR.  I hate war.  And everything associated with it.  Tanks.  Guns.  Fighter jets.  So do me a favor and do not talk to me about your games related to any of these words."  He looks into my eyes with disbelief.  I am sure he didn't anticipate such reaction from mommy.  I kiss his tanned face and walk back to the kitchen.  Pondering on the events of the days.
I was listening to NPR yesterday when a David guy and a Mark guy were discussing the events of the region.  David was saying how they were using people as human shield.  Mark responded "with all your equipment it is hard to imagine you wont be able to differentiate four little boys in shorts passing a ball at the beach".  I found my body in physical pain listening to the discussion.  How calm David was in describing their killing civilians as "defending".  How calm they all are in defending themselves.  I turned off the radio and a few hours later, browsing the news increased my pain.  I read in Huffington Post:  "Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch called for the Israeli military to 'end unlawful attacks that do not target military objectives and may be intended as collective punishment or broadly to destroy civilian property.' "

gaza mourning
Heartbreaking Photograph Of One Father's Grief Reveals The Real Cost Of Violence In Gaza

I look at this father's teary eyes, wailing at a loss, and I wonder, did he pass him the ball himself?  May be he cheerfully sent his nine year old off to play at the beach with his cousins.  May be he didn't kiss him in his rush, thinking there would come the sleeping time and he would kiss his son's eyes tucking him to bed.  Alas.  He kissed his corps instead just a few hours after, before they poured dirt on his body, burring his young corps too soon, too innocent.

As God is my witness, I am not thinking about this man as a Palestinian.  Nor do I think about his faith when I think about this tragedy.  In fact, I don't care.  I don't care where he was born, to which family, to which faith.  What I care about is the fact that he is a man.  He is a father.  He could be Muslim or Jewish.  God knows, it doesn't matter to me his faith. What matters to me is his heart, his soul, him being a human being.

Then I remember an article I had read a few days ago in Independent with a picture of an Israili parliamentarian beside a picture of another young body slayed.  Her eyes have hunted me in my dreams, just click on the link to see them.
"She is young. She is pretty. She is a university graduate and a computer engineer. She is also an Israeli Parliamentarian - and the reason why I am on the brink of burning my Israeli passport." ... "A week earlier, just before 17-year-old Mohammed Abu Khudair was snatched and burned alive, Shaked wrote: “This is not a war against terror, and not a war against extremists, and not even a war against the Palestinian Authority. The reality is that this is a war between two people. Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people. Why? Ask them, they started it.”

They started what, I wonder.  Remember early on?

As far as I can see, they accepted you.  They gave you refuge. You were supposed to live together, as some of you had for centuries.  But no.  You didn't honor the kindness.  You didn't honor them accepting you.  Perhaps you never accepted them in the first place.
I don't know all the details of course.  I know they are claiming that they are defending themselves and their settlements.  However, looking at this map only and only, I think by myself, who is defending and who is attacking?  Imagine that you gave refuge to a family and let them make a settlement in a piece of your land.  Then imagine that they start building more settlements in your land.  You talk to them demanding them to stop.  They ignore you.  You start shouting at them.  They ignore you and push further in your land and build more settlements.  You start throwing stones at them.  They respond back by firing at you.  Are they defending themselves against your throwing stones at them after they invaded you, after they built settlements in your land?  Or are you defending your land?  But wait.  You were defending your land before they were in your land.  Now you are ... defending?  Offending? Insisting?  Striving to remain alive?  I really don't know what the word is to describe this event.  By God.  I don't care if you are Jewish or they are Muslims or the other way around. It could be just the reverse and my argument would be exactly the same.

Here are some stories reported by The Guardian I didn't have the heart to read all but they made me speculate on the above scenario:
Stories from an occupation: the Israelis who broke silence
Israeli soldiers arrest Palestinian protest against Jewish settlement
A group called Breaking the Silence has spent 10 years collecting accounts from Israeli soldiers who served in the Palestinian territories. To mark the milestone, 10 hours' worth of testimony was read to an audience in Tel Aviv... Out of the ones I read in torment, this one is buzzing in my ears while I look at the shrinking map:

Nablus Regional Brigade, Nablus, 2014
"Provocation and reaction" is the act of entering a village, making a lot of noise, waiting for the stones to be thrown at you and then you arrest them, saying: "There, they're throwing stones." Lots of vehicles move inside the whole village, barriers. A barrier seems to be the army's legitimate means to stop terrorists. We're talking about Area B [under civilian Palestinian control and Israeli security control], but the army goes in there every day, practically, provoking stone throwings. Just as any Palestinian is suspect, this is the same idea. It could be a kid's first time ever throwing a stone, but as far as the army is concerned, we've caught the stone thrower."

Who started what?
It hurts and agonizes and depresses me investigating this all and all the silence against the crimes, or worse, all the supports they recieve. I am in pain and I am reminded of the below Persian poem I'm told is inscribed at the United Nations' gate:

"The sons of Adam are limbs of each other
Having been created of one essence
When the calamity of time affects one limb
The other limbs cannot remain at rest
If you have no sympathy for the troubles of others
You are unworthy to be called by the name of a human"

She is asleep now.  Taking a morning nap.  She has put her arms above her head, how she sleeps when she feels calm and secure.  Her angelic face is open and bright.  I am grateful for her calm.  Then I think about that mother.  Where does her one year old sleep these days?  Is there a baby mattress at the refugee camps?  It must be noisy there.  There must be explosions happening around everywhere.  How do they cook?  Do they have any staple?  What if the baby had a little cough?  Are there doctors around?
You poor little baby!  I hope you sleep soundly tonight!
I pray for calm, peace, love, and compassion for every little child anywhere in this World!  Amen!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Prayers Tonight

Oh, God!
May there be grace in that land! The land of free, the land of occupied, the land of God.
Oh, God!
May there be mercy in that land!
Oh, God!
May there be compassion in that land! May there be patience! May there be loving kindness!
Oh, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful!
Let their hearts be filled with grace, mercy, compassion, and love!
Oh, our Sustainer,
Let them all love, and be loved!
Oh, our Beloved!
May there be grace, mercy, compassion, and love in the heart of all children, our children, and us!
Oh, God!
Let us all love, and be loved!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

History Lessons

Pondering these days; if a wrong, unjust, cruel action was imposed on to you and victimized you, would you consider doing the same thing to others? Does it become right and just if you impose the same thing on them?
I cannot stop but wonder, does the history repeat itself? Or it just manifests it's fundamental which never changes but changes form from one sect, nation, race to another sect, nation, race?
What is most baffling these days is the similarity of what some suffered from and what they themselves are imposing on to others.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


This is going to be exciting, working for a new employer, with a new team, on a new venture, in a newly refurbished office.
I am grateful to the universe for this new opportunity and set my intentions to work effectively toward the ultimate goal and empower my team to be the best they can and want to.
This is going to be an adventurous ride, with bumpy roads and smooth glides, with joined cultures from east and west diversifying our approach to success.
With a loving caring partner like M by my side I feel ready for it all.  I pray for wisdom and compassion. Amen!

What if we Erased History?

I remember the first time I realized that I'm a girl and there is another gender who are "boys"; it was when my cousin who is 10 months younger than me chanted to us, girls: "boys are lions, they are like swords; girls are mice, they are like bunnies". It wasn't the words that made me pause, there was no shame or pride in being an animal, be it a lion or a bunny. But to my preschooler brain his tone was rather condescending and offensive, or really defensive as there were five of us girl cousins and two of them boy cousins at the scene.  That was just the beginning.  Later I heard that women couldn't judge, or they were not as smart as boys, or that boys are more powerful than girls. None made sense to my little being but people insisted. All the childhood movies were filled with weak girls and ladies and women and powerful heroes. I subconsciously started searching for heroines and I was thrilled the first time I saw Mary Curie's movie, or read the biography of Helen Clair, or heard about an 11th century poet, Rabiah.  I saw that there was Margaret Thatcher as the British Prime Minister but I realized that she was the only one in the regular foreign news.
Middle school was an interesting time when we got accepted to the National Organization for Developing Exceptional Talents school. There we were.  So called talented girls. And just on the other side of the city was a mirroring middle school with so called talented boys. We were sometimes evaluated with a similar test and there came another interesting pattern. Most if not all the times there was a boy with the highest score yet the average score of the girls was higher than that of the boys. We were studying logic at the time. So I though "there is a boy who is smarter than all girls".  Yet I thought it couldn't be absolute. There must be a girl somewhere in this world who is smarter than all boys and girls. Who could prove me wrong? And with the same logic I thought most men are stronger than most women but there is a woman somewhere in the world who is stronger than all men.  Who could prove me wrong?
So I pursued maths and physics in high school and I proved I could do great even though I didn't study much at all and when I set my goal to get accepted to an engineering program in the best university I could, I did.  I earned acceptance to even better programs too but my dad didn't allow me go because they were in another city, which is beside the point here.  University was another challenge of its own with 50+ boys and only 2 girls in my major.  I continued studying as little as possible and did fine.  I knew I needed to win the battle of boys and girls and I did so by differentiating myself through knowing a foreign language very well and excelling in computational mechanics. And so I did. Then I pursued my master's degree in a foreign university in computational dynamics and I felt happy and accomplished.
Years passed and I became a mother of a sweet smart mischievous little boy.  Life was fair and square until the day my son started public school. Little by little phrases such as "this movie is for girls" or "this color is girly" entered his communication.  I was happy to see that most children books, at least the ones I read with my son, were unbiased about boys and girls and men and women until Annie and Jack, the main characters of the chapter book series xxx he was reading, went back in time to Athene to watch the Olympics and Annie was forbidden from entering the stadium on the account that she was a girl.  And I thought "it began". For him too.
I haven't stopped but wonder, what if the history was never recited to this generation, would there still be gender biases?