Monday, September 28, 2009

Il Siciliano Restaurante, my take


Due to a happy occasion last Sunday, I had the pleasure of having lunch in Il Siciliano, Abdel Wahab El Inglizi St, Ashrafieh (view map, tel: 00961 1324 001, 00961 1324 003), and luckily just one day before I start my diet, I can give you my amateur opinion on this restaurant and tell you that it is definitely a wonderful experience from the minute you walk in until the minute you leave.


We were greeted with a welcome shot at the restaurant salon in the ground floor, afterward we went up to the restaurant, women greeted as Ladies and men as Sirs, makes you feel good to be honest, asked which kind of wine we would like to drink, and what the main course is going to be... In a nutshell the service was very classy, they appear as if they really know what they are doing, and I think it is because they do know.

After the first course, the salad, came the pasta, and that is the most important part of this review, there were two kinds, very nicely put together, the plate looked swelling.


It contained tortellini with white sauce and penne with tomato sauce, I usually go towards the white sauce, but for the first time in my life, I enjoyed the penne with tomato sauce so much I did not want that plate to end. I have eaten in many Italian restaurants based in Lebanon, and Par Excellence, in Il Siciliano lays the best pasta I have ever had.

The main course I chose was grilled chicken, it was not bad at all, but being a pasta fan, this is where all my focus went.

And all this eating was accompanied by the music of the giant tenor singer Andrea Boccelli, definitely puts you in a relaxing mood.

After a while, a fast-paced music came on, and the chef gave us a really interesting show for 2 minutes approximately. It gave the ambiance a really nice touch.


We were invited so I can't tell you the exact pricing, however from what I have been told and what I saw, it is not a modest restaurant and it does require a certain budget, so be prepared, this is not Mezzo - Cinema City.


The restaurant looked very neat. I personally am a fan of decor and the bathroom's as well, and it had this old feel for it, moreover I loved the fact that there were many towels in a small wooden open closet, you pick one which you can dispose right after use.

To complement such a culinary experience, there comes the dessert, a fruit salad with an Italian scoop of sorbet, mine was Lemon, and it was a treat!

For next time, I will surely try the pizza, and yes there definitely is a next time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

مارسيل خليفة يغني في مهرجانات بيت الدين، للمعتقلين في السجون الإسرائيلية... والعربية

باسكال عسّاف

بينما كانت بيروت ترزح تحت حرّ قاسٍ لف سماء العاصمة طيلة شهر أب، كانت منطقة بيت الدين تنعم بنسيم ليلي بارد أشبه بإطلالة خجولة للشتاء. أكثر من أربعة آلاف شخص حضروا، غصّ المدرج بحركتهم، تفقدوا أمكنتهم، وما كادت الساعة تقترب من التاسعة مساءً، حتى امتلأت كل المقاعد، وعمد القيمون على الأمسية إلى إضافة عدد آخر من الكراسي في نواحي المدرج. جلس الحضور يترقّب، فالليلة حنين إلى صوت مارسيل خليفة، وانتظار أقرب إلى التأمل في موعد مع الموسيقى.

أوشحة بألوان مختلفة لفّت أكتاف الحاضرين. عازفو الأوركسترا، الكورس، وبعض المستمعين، اختاروا الكوفية بلونيها الأبيض والأسود تعبيراً عن دعم قضية فلسطين، وطن عربي آخر يعاني من التخلّي.

أعضاء "أوركسترا فلسطين للشباب"، أكثر من 60 عازفاً بقيادة المايسترو البريطانية شون ادواردز (Shon Edwards)

 جاؤوا من لبنان، مصر، سوريا، العراق، فلسطين والهندوراس. باقة من الجنسيات المختلفة، اجتمعت في ليلة الأربعاء 12 آب 2009 وتركت في نفوس الجمهور ذكرى أمسية عبقت برائحة حب الأوطان.

وبمناسبة اختيار القدس عاصمة الثقافة العربية لعام 2009، كانت الأمسية تحية للشاعر محمود درويش في الذكرى السنوية الأولى لغيابه، هو الغائب الحاضر في الكلمات.

حفل استمر لأكثر من ساعتين، تنوع برنامجه بين أقسام ثلاثة. الجزء الأول غنائية بمشاركة أميمة الخليل من لبنان، ريم تلحمي وباسل زايد من فلسطين، تحت عنوان "أحمد عربي"، قصيدة عن المقاومة كتبها الشاعر محمود درويش وألّف موسيقاها مارسيل خليفة في العام 1983. ومع "القدس شمس الحرية، واليوم نغني أحمد العربي" بدأ خليفة حفلته ليدخل الجمهور معه إلى عالم آخر، ورددوا معه عالياً "أنا أحمد العربي\ فليأت الحصار\ جسدي هو الأسوار\ فليأت الحصار".

 

في الجزء الثاني عاد مارسيل متشحاً بشاله الأزرق، الذي شارك فيه مع فرقة الميادين ورافقه ولداه، رامي على البيانو، وبشّار على الدربكّة والدف، إسماعيل رجا(Ismail Raja)  على الكلارينت، بيتر هربرت (Peter Herbert)  على الكمان، ناصر سلامة(Nasser Salameh)  وألكسندر بيتروف (Alexandre Petrof)  عارفا إيقاع. 

عند أداء أغنية "يطير الحمام، يحط الحمام" توجه مارسيل إلى الجمهور طالباً منه أن يشاركه الغناء وتحديداً الصف الأول حيث جلس عدد من السياسيين وفعاليات البلد. وبعدما أطلت أميمة الخليل لتغني "عصفور طلّ من الشباك"، عصف المدرج بصراخ البهجة، ما دفع مارسيل إلى سؤال الحاضرين ممازحاً إذا ما زالت الكلمات في الذاكرة.

وبعد أن أهداها "إلى كل المعتقلين في السجون الإسرائيلية"، اخترقت المدرج عاصفة من التصفيق، انتظرها لتهدأ وأردف مبتسماً "والسجون العربية". في تلك اللحظة، وعلى وقع كلمات "كل قلوب الناس جنسيتي، فلتسقطوا عني جواز السفر"، شعر الحضور بأن التصفيق والصراخ لم يعد كافياٌ فوقف تحية لكل... المساجين.

أما أغنية "يا بحرية" فكانت الأكثر صخباً في الحفل، قديم جدده مارسيل بحضوره وعزفه الرائع، رافقه عازف المزمار (كلارينت) لبضع دقائق أذهل فيها الحضور بتمايله كالنسيم مع اللحن، أكمل بعدها مارسيل المقطوعة على العود على وقع تصفيق هادر. كما عزف على العود مقطوعة من قصيدة "محمد الدرة" و"أنا يوسف يا أبي" ليجعل هذا الحفل لوحة متكاملة من إنشاد جماعي وفردي ومعزوفات موسيقية وإلقاء شعري، لوحة رسمها الوطن المنسي في حسابات من نصبوا نفسهم قيّمين عليه.

في القسم الثالث غادر مارسيل ليجلس مع الحضور وعادت الأوركسترا إلى المسرح. منفردة، أدت ريم تلحمي أغنياتها "يا غزة" وإحدى قصائد محمود درويش "خضراء أرض قصيدتي \ خضراء عالية\ على مهل أدونها\ على وزن النوارس\ في كتاب الماء أدونها" واختتمت الحفل بأغنية عن القدس من كلمات وسيم الكردي وألحان سهيل خوري.

في نهاية الأمسية قدّم الوزير غازي العريضي ميدالية كمال جنبلاط وسجادة صلاة من صنع يد حرفية لبنانية لأعضاء الأوركسترا، كما قدمت السيدة نورا جنبلاط درعاً تذكارياً للأوركسترا ممثلة في مديرها، الملحن والموسيقي سهيل خوري. وبقي التكريم الأكبر الذي قدمه الجمهور وفي مقدمتهم وليد جنبلاط، طارق متري، جان أوغسبيان، زاهي وهبي، والسيدة جيزيل خوري تصفيقاً وتفاعلاً مع أغنيات وقصائد في ليلة موسيقية ارتقت إلى حد الإبداع.

A little bit too late, nevertheless worth the read. Marcel Khalife's concert with the Palestinian Youth Orchestra in Beiteddine on August 2009.

Brazilian Carnaval in Lebanon

I can proudly say I did not have my camera on me yesterday, so no pictures available, however this should actually be of motivation to people who live in Lebanon and I highly advice you to go see this event as it rarely ever happens in Lebanon. It's a micro Rio de Janero carnaval, nonetheless worth seeing. It is organized by Café Najjar.

It took place yesterday in Downtown Beirut, it will tonight as well (24 Sept) in DT Beirut, then it will be moving to Zahle (Sep 26), Batroun (Sep 29) and Tyre (Oct 1). Public workshops will also be given throughout the carnival to get your bum shaking Samba style.

For more info click here





Photos courtesy of Tony Yammine and Darine respectively, for which Darine also shared her experience in this post.

Blog Action Day 2009 - Climate Change

Gear up, prepare your keyboards, set your mind, put the screen in front of you, 15 October 2009 is Blog Action Day and the topic for this year after high demand is Climate Change.



Please help spread the word to other bloggers, let's make it happen.

For more info on climate change, please refer to older posts starting the month of August 2009. Or just check website of local Lebanese NGO www.indyact.org, the global 350 campaign, and the actual campaign www.tcktcktck.com

Save yourselves! Please help raise awareness about the subject.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Nations having different goals when it comes to Climate Change

They met up, talked and showed sympathy, leadership, motivation for action, and then when it's about time to announce their commitments to actually do something about Climate Change, few did!
 
Several world leaders on Tuesday gave the most decisive indication in months that they will work to revive floundering negotiations aimed at securing a new international climate pact. But the vision that President Obama and others outlined at the United Nations climate summit -- in which countries offered a series of individual commitments -- suggests that a potential deal may look much different from what its backers originally envisioned.

[...]

The sad thing about climate change is that those who least caused it will be most affected by it, such as the Maldives, and this is what their President Mohamed Nasheed a prime speaking spot after Obama, said about it:
 
"On cue, we stand here and tell you just how bad things are. We warn you that unless you act quickly and decisively, our homelands and others like it will disappear beneath the rising sea before the end of the century," he said. "In response, the assembled leaders of the world stand up one by one and rail against the injustice of it all. . . . But then, once the rhetoric has settled and the delegates have drifted away, the sympathy fades, and the indignation cools, and the world carries on as before."

The most ambitious commitment to reduce the gas emissions in their country came from Japan:

Japan's prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, renewed his pledge to reduce his country's emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

However, they won't play if others don't play, especially that if they played alone, it will not help the case anyway

Japan's commitment is conditioned on the willingness of other industrial powers to sign on to similar commitments.

The major problem in actually coming up with a fair and binding agreement for climate change is that most countries have had one of their worst economic years and initially they're always reluctant in taking any measures when it comes to environment and climate change, so how about now with a vulnerable economy starring them in the face.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/22/AR2009092201137.html?hpid=moreheadlines

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

World Leaders in New York for Climate talk (Except for Lebanon)

Taken by your truly


100 World Leaders such as Obama (USA), Sarcosy (France), and especially Presidents of China and India, countries that are playing a major role in the economy of this world and in the climate change issue are gathering in New York for Climate Week NYC.

Taken by your truly


Among those 100 World Leaders, most Arab countries are not present in the presidential form, and Lebanon is not even represented at all.

On Monday, September 21, Avaaz members and TckTckTck Campaign partners sent a deafening wake-up call on climate change to world leaders--with 2632 events in 134 countries, tens of thousands of phone calls etc... Video below



Taken by your truly


"Again Arab leaders missed yet another opportunity to defend the survival needs of the region from climate change impacts." said Wael Hmaidan, Executive Director of IndyACT. "While today’s climate summit is attended by Presidents of the US, France, China and many others, only Algeria participated at the Presidential level from the Arab region", added Hmaidan.

Yesterday, September 21st, more than 2000 actions took place in the world with one slogan "Wake up it is time for climate action".

Lebanon might not represented officially in probably the most important and fate-defining talks of our times today, however our NGO IndyACT which is always on the run, participating in all the negotiation sessions similar to COP15 that will take place in Copenhagen Denmark in December 2009, organized a get-together at Ain El Mreisseh Beirut at 8pm to which more than 100 activists, social media, environmentalists and other attended sounded the alarms of their clocks and mobile phones, honked their horns and banged their musical instruments, making a tremendous noise in a symbolic action, part of a global "Wake-Up call". The main purpose of this event was to tell the world leaders that are in New York today, one thing and one thing only "It is time for Climate action".

Taken by your truly


A solar enabled countdown clock will be put in that same spot to count the days that distance us from the most important negotiations to take place in this century, the COP15.

Taken by yours truly


The purpose of COP15 is to achieve an ambitious, fair and binding agreement, a Climate Change treaty, for all countries.

Taken by yours truly


In all of these sessions the Lebanese and many other Arab delegations have never taken the floor to speak even once. “The main Arab countries engaging the negotiations are Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, who only defend their oil trade. The Arab region is more than oil, and we have to know that if climate change is not addressed properly, we will lose our agriculture, water, economy and livelihood of our people in the region and globally”, declared Hmaidan.

IndyAct along with international NGOs and civil society worldwide consider the Copenhagen Summit as a key moment in our history, and call all the Arab governments to have an active and positive role in reducing global CO2 concentration in the atmosphere to 350 ppm (parts per million). 350 ppm is the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere that we need to reach to keep the global warming below two degrees Celsius and avoid catastrophic climate change impacts.


Taken by yours truly


P.S. All the text blocks indented to the right are taken from IndyACT's press release 22/09/2009.
To know more about Climate Change, 350ppm, COP15, future actions, the science and politics behind, please refer to www.indyact.org, www.tcktcktck.org, www.350.org and some posts I have written in the near past about this subject 1 and 2.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Time to wake up the world: Sep 21 @ 8pm

Get your alarm clocks, horns, musical instruments, pots, cans, etc. & meet us in Ain Al- Mreiseh, facing McDonalds at 8 p.m. on Monday September 21 to sound the Global Wake Up Call.

Organize by IndyACT, actions will take place all over the world. On Monday a rally will take place in order to wake the sleep-walking people.

More about the rally here.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Twestival Beirut suppording IndyACT & Climate Change

Twestival will take place Globally in more than 133 cities worldwide and is happening in Beirut for the first time. It will be tomorrow Sunday September the 13th at 4pm in Rawda Cafe, Ras Beirut.

Ticket: 10$

In Beirut, Twestival is supporting IndyACT, The League of Independent Activists, in its continuous campaigns to fight the increasing climate change crisis. There is less than 3 months to Copenhagen where world leaders will come together in the most important meeting of a generation to decide if they will save the planet or not. Unfortunately, our Arab governments still lag behind with no true leadership and avoiding responsibility. Twestival Beirut with the help of volunteers and civil society will help change that. They will call for climate change action and moving away from the path of destruction, continued poverty and despair.