Category Archives: Reviews

Mona Karaoui – A diary in Peru – Travel Junkie DiaryTravel Junkie Diary

“…Peru is a wake-up call, a reminder of “real” things that matter, of the beauty of a universe that we should strive to preserve. No matter what you expect, Peru will give you more: more nature, more beauty, more art, more food, but mostly more modesty, more simplicity, more love and more goodness.”

Mona Karaoui – A diary in Peru

Source: Mona Karaoui – A diary in Peru – Travel Junkie DiaryTravel Junkie Diary


Fields of Green

I’ve always been a bit “stingy” when it comes to my readings. I tend to dedicate more of my time for works of Arab authors, because naturally, I take part in their cause, relate to their uncertainties, share their sense of belonging, and then every once in a while (just when I’m about to overdo it), my very wise cultural Guru (and dear friend Georges) gently pushes me to indulge in books of different nature. His latest was “The Lowland” by British-born, Indian-American and Pulitzer Award winner Jumpha Lahiri.

A trip back in time to India in the 1960s, the book depicts a poignant story of two inseparable brothers who grow up happily in Calcutta but part ways years later, due to political affiliations, insecurity, and immigration- only to remain bound by an epic tragedy of love and loss and broken family ties,  across four generations and two geographies.


I do not wish to divulge further details of the book here today, for I strongly recommend you read it (it was shortlisted for the Man Booker award of the year but The Luminaries just nailed it). I just woke up itching to give credit to authors of the world this morning, and to also give a major shoutout to all Arab and non- Arab immigrants and families away from their homeland this Christmas.

May you live to see your children running happily, and freely, in their homeland’s fields of green.

May you live to see them starting a family- in their homeland- showered with flowers of jasmine, rice, and zaghareet (to each his own)

May you live to see them standing tall- in their homeland-  in times of peace, stability, and goodness, as responsible and compassionate citizens of the world.

Meet Jumpha below- she’s definitely a keeper!

For the love of land

Mahmoud Darwish has been serenading me to sleep almost every night for the past year or so. I just came across this heartbreakingly beautiful masterpiece he recited as he bid Tunisia goodbye in 1994. He cried, for the love of Tunisia, Palestine, and the Arab world. He cried for the love of land.

When Darwish cries, the whole world cries. No one compares.

American Loving

I’m a Simon Cowell girl all the way (gross? but true!!), but I’ve got to give American Idol’s judges some credit this year. I am compelled to pay tribute to this harmony they display on the big screen, and the sense of responsibility they commit to. 2012 is definitely going to be one of American Idol’s Golden seasons..for many years to come. The combination of multitalented contestants on board this year is just mind-blowing (as Steve Tyler clearly had excellent judgment from day 1).

The Top 8 episode (80s night) aired last night, and I’ve got to say there is some fierce competition going on there! Those aspiring performers rocked the stage and I’ve quite frankly been tortured a little all season, as 5 of the Top 8 contestants have won my heart from the beginning, and I just can’t get myself to cheer FULLY for ONLY one- just yet! In order of preference though (that’s as close as it gets), I thought I’d share this week’s performances here – Happy Weekend!

Phillip Phillips

Elise Testone 

Joshua Ledet 

Colton Dixon

Jessica Sanchez 

Movie Review: Eat, Pray, Love

In a plethora of natural disasters, economic downturns, elevated divorce rates and more elevated unemployment rates, shows up the always so delightful Julia Roberts (yet sadly) in one of her least delightful appearances.

What was exactly the point of the torturous 2.5 hour long movie which shed excessive light on the vitality of living for one’s wellbeing first, I am not quite sure: she ate (plenty of Spaghetti), discovered “faith” in the time of need (don’t we all?!), and loved (or broke hearts- whichever you want to call it) until she finally  discovered her happiest self in Bali! With Javier Bardem (and isn’t that the dream of every woman on earth today?)

What stunned me most is how smoothly she pulled herself out of an 8-year marriage and determined to go on a year sabbatical and tour the globe on a self discovery mission. Call me traditional but I do not consider leaving a marriage behind, getting into a brisk intense relationship (even if it were with James Franco) and then flying out to Italy followed by India and Bali “self discovery”, it’s rather “narcissism”, the love of the I- kindly add to that the fact that it is nearly impossible for any of us, modest citizens of the world, to disconnect  for an entire year, and live leisurely on love, yoga, wine and Spaghetti (well, unless we’re Julia Roberts or the rather unlucky movie  producer – Brad Pitt that is) due to all the practical limitations the economy and society imply on both men and women today (amongst many other things).

I have not read the book so I am not one to judge Ms. Gilbert’s writing or her personal choices but I can undoubtedly say I am one (of many) disappointed spectators . The lone thing that I have deduced at the treasured end of the overdosed session of dullness (and handsome-ness, I must add) is that one should not make lifetime commitments (may it be marriage or else) before discovering “oneself”!  Engaging in a long term relationship  (with a partner/ a job/ a fitness club) merely suggests you’re in it for the good and the bad (I am not implying until death do you two apart, but why not if you can stand in love for as long as it is doable- Thank you Fromm).

Well, I just packed my bags and am now on the quest for “self discovery” – en route to Chtaura (oh, who needs you Bardem!)

Robin of the hoods

Boy am I glad I didn’t miss out on “Robin Hood”!!! The worldwide debate regarding the script and the re-invention of the legend was fierce, but truth be told, nothing compares to “Russell Crowe” on the big screen. You may argue that he is obnoxious in person and has serious attitude issues (we still recall his 2008 infinitesimal misadventure with the paparazzi), you may argue that he is taciturn and aloof (he’s not socially active and is rarely present at A-list events- which by the way, I like!)- but one can definitely not argue his genuine talent. Crowe is effortlessly gifted. He is one of those actors whose presence on screen instantly hypnotizes the audience (when I think hypnosis, I think Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins, Jack Nicholson, Kevin Spacey, Sean Penn, Dustin Hoffman and the likes..)

He just wears his roles so well and sucks you into his character completely. I can swiftly recall him as a crazy romantic (in “breaking up” back in 1997), an unbeatable hero (in “Gladiator”), a witty negotiator (in “proof of life”), a besieged yet brilliant mathematician (in “a beautiful mind”), a triumphant British captain (in “The Master and Commander”), a re-invented boxing champ (in “Cinderella Man”), a stupendous detective in (“The American Gangster”), an upright CIA representative (in “Body of lies”), a brazen newspaper reporter (in “State of mind”) and last – but not least- a legendary yet humble archer , also renowned as Robin of the hoods.. The lights are shed on a different side of Robin’s personality in the 2010 version (following Kevin Costner’s 1991 “Prince of thieves”): fragility, affection, rightness, timid drollness and leadership – the perfect example of what Robin Sharma would refer to as a “leader who had no title”.

In the peculiar world of glamorous Hollywood smiles, flamboyant Jimmy Choo stilettos and dashing Zegna tuxedos, I would like to vote for Crowe today as an unswerving acting leader with no title. I am of course aware of the fact that he has already won an Oscar topped with another 29 awards, but he is nevertheless so accomplished in silence, a holistic combination many Hollywood rising divas and hunks today are lacking! Robert Pattinson, watch and learn!!!

Book Review: The Art of Loving – Erich Fromm

The enigma of Love & the secret behind its triumph have long been the foremost concerns of human kind, men and women alike- falling in love (all perks attached: passion, blindness, butterflies in the stomach)- then falling out of love (all nuisance once again guaranteed: heartache, aloneness, rage, doom and gloom).  Why do people fall in then out of love? Is there no middle ground somewhere along the way? Is human kind doomed to keep “stumbling on love” rather than “standing in love”?

Poised with class yet practicality, Fromm’s “Art of Loving” is a shocking eye opener, an impeccably written work of art that highlights all different aspects of love, human kind, matters of the heart- in 4 very much enlightening sections:

1. Love as a form of Art (love ought to be treated as a main concern, nourished, developed, etc)

2. The condition of human beings today( love in theory – Human beings tend to get over their aloneness by resorting to an orgiastic state- whether through drugs or sexual orgasms which chase away separateness for a while but do not actually bridge the gap between 2 human beings except temporarily)

3. Effect of Capitalism on Human Relationships (demolishing of uniqueness and selfhood- equality in our world today has transformed from “oneness” to “sameness”- standardization of men- like products-  has reigned over our world and we sadly misinterpret that for equality)

4.  Putting love into practice (Love requires 4 fundamental elements: Care, Respect, Responsibility, Knowledge) – It is an action, an activity- to be more accurate, it is an act of freedom by which one gives instead of expecting to receive.

Fromm argues, throughout his masterpiece that, while we, humans, are desperately seeking what we call love (in spite of the fact that we are not quite sure what it is, what it entails, the right means to get to it and then stay STANDING there) – our main concern remains “being loved” rather than “loving”. To love is to give, he says, to give from one’s soul, one’s feelings, one’s existence.  Love is by all means, the highest expression of power and happiness, as it does express one’s aliveness (and uniqueness) in every possible way.

Alas, the struggle between being independent, yet striving to fit into the social machinery that capitalism imposes on the Western World’s men and women today, explains Fromm, leaves no room for the integration of love, no room for learning an art of utmost significance in every individual’s life, an art that is, according to the author, the answer to the “Problem of Human Existence”.  Love, like living or painting or any other form of art, does require, essential steps – (mastering of theory and practice). The fact is Mastering of theory & practice of loving are unfortunately overlooked, or non-existent in our world today (due to quickness). Treating Love as a matter of ultimate concern and investing one’s energy in learning the “art of loving” is mandatory, should one wish to transcend to a human being who is loved and who is loving. This applies to all kinds of human relationships- mother and child- man and woman, man and God , etc…

What we need, according to Fromm, does not really consist of mere butterflies in the stomach (although at the initial “falling” phase, this might come true), what we actually need is discipline, concentration, patience and supreme concern. It is only once we commit to giving ourselves completely – hoping that our love will produce love in the loved person – that we start touching at the peculiar notion of love! Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love!!

Well said Fromm!