How to live with a revolutionary without losing your head (Or WSFing his)

The Rev went to the World Social Forum in Tunis.

The Horror.

The horroooooorrrr.

Imagine. Just imagine, all these revolutionaries, so-called revolutionaries, leftists, pseudo-post-feminists, members of the second, third, fourth and even fifth International just roaming free in the streets of the Tunis, pretending they can dance to the sound of darbouka and quoting Marx right, left and center. Imagine the hippies, the Tunisian mukhabarat, the states-sponsored organisations trying to convince you that yes, Bashar Al Assad is a resistant and that Comrade Khomeiny really did stand for the oppressed. Imagine the Palestinian flags getting intertwined with the sickle and hammer. Imagine Oxfam and USAid in the middle of this, acting completely unaware that they were almost as in their right place than a cockroach in a pot of pristine white cream.

Imagine the Rev in the middle of this.

The horror.

You foolishly went with him. I mean, you really did need to keep an eye on him, just to make sure he was not traumatizing the Tunisian people, these poor things have enough on their plate. You went, thinking, ah well, I will follow one or two sessions and then what I’ll do is, I’ll go to the Madina and to Sidi Bou Said to eat myself stupid and buy local artifacts to support the local economy (translate by: to exemplify the evil consumerist urge of buying gorgeous plates and leather satchels and not giving two damns about it being an evil consumerist urge. Take that, world social forum!)

What happened was, on the very first day, you had to restrain the Rev and pull him out of not one, but two fights.

The Rev is 2cm short of 1m90. You are 23cm off the 1m90 mark. And of course, you were wearing flats, so you barely reached his armpit.
And yet, you shoved him aside like there was no tomorrow, pushing him away from the crowd and yelling at him like a madwoman.
The Rev, you see, had spotted some Bashar supporters, who, let’s face it, really did want to be spotted, what with them carrying a ginormous pro-Bashar Syrian flag (is there even such a thing?) and in case we were confused, pictures of the blue-eyed tyrant with slogans such as ‘we’re all with you’. Er, no we’re not.
Now you completely understand the Rev’s rage. You even share it, no questions asked. The teeny tiny glitch is that the setting of the fight was as follows:
– Pro-Bashar supporters: 25
– Rev: Rev (plus you, ok)
You felt the issue might not have been in favour of the Rev. So you shoved and shoved until his cries of ‘traitors! Murderers! Thieves! Cowards! The Syrian people will get their freedom ya KLEB!’ Were drowned in the peaceful chants of some organisations or others.
The fact that Stalinists roamed the campus of the world social forum really did nothing to impress you with the world social forum. I mean, what’s the point of doing a song and dance about social justice and all this ‘another world is possible’ hoopla if it’s to end up having to listen to participants glorifying war criminals. Seriously. You’d be better off at Fashion Week. At least there no one is pretending they’re doing it for the good of humankind.

However, the Rev, with his sweet, forgetful nature, was soon enough feeling better and while severely criticizing and despising the pro-criminals people (KLEB!) he managed to meet up with every comrade under the sun he could get his hands on, attending meetings, organizing and coordinating campaigns, drafting statements as if they were going out of style.
He even went to Gafsa to talk with the workers on strike there an offer his solidarity, luckily without falling into a phosphate mine while he was at it.

You? Oh, after telling a SWP member that you belonged to the 4th International (just to see his face fall, you like being mean to people),you spent most of your time in Sidi Bou Said, like a lizard in the sun.
The fact that you don’t know the difference between the third and the fourth international is irrelevant, and in any case, when the Rev explained it to you, you were not impressed.

I mean, who CARES if the USSR was a state capitalism system or a degenerate proletarian state? Seriously people, that’s what they’re fighting about.

Who cares? I asked the Rev. The USSR is extinct anyway. For fuck’s sake.
The Rev looked at you ever so kindly, then laughed. Truth be told, you thought, these people could do with a laugh. And with a serious make over.

You’re in the process of founding your own international. Invitation only, of course.

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You Are Not My Comrade

The world social forum is a ginormous gathering of people thinking creatively together and sharing ideas to create a more just, equal world.

Or so they’ll have you believe. Participating in the opening march, I found myself severely thorn. The march was aimed, as all marches, at reclaiming the streets but also , on a more specific level, at demonstrating to governments preaching austerity measures, oppression, discrimination and neo-liberal policies than another world is possible, that standing in solidarity with all people of the world was possible, and that us, the people, were to become one and fight the capital back.

Oh sure, you had more Comrades than your eyes could handle, you had your usual Che Guevara wanna-bes (I almost wrote lookalikes here, but then thought better of it) and you had your various flags and banners, all calling for more solidarity, more self-determination,more peace).
Among which, flags and banners of Pro-Bashar Syria, with pictures of Bashar to match, with ‘we’re all with you’ slogans to boot.
Now Oxfam marching away as if they owned the place (which they probably do, given than they’re one of the main donors of the world social forum, along with the French Institute and Bread for the World (imperialism? Neo-colonialism? What? Where?)) I could probably stomach, regardless of the fact that the irony of the presence of an organization feeding a 100% into the neoliberal paradigm of NGOs slowly taking on the economic and social duties of the state at such a march was apparently lost on them. I could even stomach, albeit with some difficulty, the countless people wearing Hugo Chavez T-shirts and his pictures, calling him Commandante as if he fought alongside Lenin in the Russian Revolution, even if these people seemed totally oblivious that the world social forum was taking place in a region that has direly and is still direly suffering from the catastrophic effects of dictatorships and that aforementioned Commandante was one of the closest and fiercest supporter and friend of Gaddafi and Al Assad. I can understand Venezuelans value Chavez for the improvement of their socio-economic conditions he brought to his country. I do. What I don’t understand is the very basic anti-imperialism rampant in the left that makes every little middle finger extended to the USA and Israel a supreme act of anti-imperialism that deserves reverence by all.
It is this minimal and quite limited understanding of anti-imperialism that leads some leftists to remain staunch supporters of perpetrators of monstrosities such as Gaddafi and Al Assad. I won’t even bother to go into the details of how much considering Al Assad an anti-imperialist is wrong. News update my comrades, imperialism and neo-colonialism can also be performed by other states than the US, and in the case of Syria, I don’t recall Al Assad opposing the imperialist tendencies of Iran and Russia. As for neo-liberal policies, I will only refer you to this article, explaining at great length how much Al Assad’s policies created a greater class divide, how much whatever economic ‘improvement’ and integration within the globalized economy only benefited a small clique of big cities bourgeoisie. Surely that’s not how Comrade Marx intended socialism and communism, am I right?
As of those still living in the delusion that Assad is opposing Zionism and will free Jerusalem, kindly inform me what he has done to free his own territory, the Golan, before he takes on freeing Palestine. Apparently there are plenty of ammunition to kill and slaughter his people but there are none available to free the Golan.

It is for all these reasons that I do not get the enormous pictures of Al Assad within the world social forum March. It is because war crimes are happening, it is because mass slaughters are happening, it is because peaceful resistance and opposition were met with ferocious repression, torture and unlawful use of force that I do not get, my sweet Comrade, how you can smoke your oh so not subversive weed, look me in the eyes, and tell me that we’re all with Assad, the great anti-imperialist.

Surely, my Comrade, this is not how Comrade Marx intended it?

A Day in the Life of The Revolutionary

A day in the life of a Revolutionary

07:30: Alarm rings. The Revolution never sleeps, why should the Rev? And by extension, why should you?

07:31: Opens eyes. Asks you if you’re a socialist revolutionary. You’re a 28 year old highly tired woman who hasn’t had her coffee yet. Your eyes still closed, you say no. You distinctly remember mumbling something along the lines of ‘fuck off, you and the revolution’

07:35: Anguish. He’s married to a bourgeois reactionary. How did that happen?

07:36: No point in dwelling on this, after all, isn’t he supposed to attract people as much as he can to the cause? He shall overcome. Gets out of bed.

07:37: Turns on YouTube. Puts on his playlist ‘Revolutionary Songs for the Revolutionary’.

07:38: L’Internationale blaring from the computer for the whole world to hear. Enters showers. Starts singing.

07:39 – 08:20: Showers, get dressed, while you’re being treated to Bella Ciao, L’Internationale, Na7na El Thawra Wou El Ghadab, complete with his own voice and a little dance routine. Murderous thoughts threaten to choke you.

08:25: Practices mock speeches in front of mirror to other make believe revolutionaries. You tell him he looks like a rambling dictator. Abruptly stops, looking wounded. He has woken you at an ungodly hour to the sound of L’internationale. You consider yourself entitled to hurt him. You have no shame. You live to vex him.

08:30: Asks you again if you’re a socialist revolutionary. Tells you you have the thinking already, and that the step from feminist to socialist revolutionary is really quite minimal.

08:32: Applies band aid to where your shoe hit him.

08:35: Makes you coffee.

08:36: Sits in front of computer for the daily ‘Revue de Presse’.

08:37: You break a glass, cut yourself, noisily look for a pretty band aid, burn yourself with your hair straighteners, call your mother who yells in the phone as if you were in Zimbabwe (while she actually lives 30 minutes away from you). Rev doesn’t budge.

11:00: Finishes reading up daily press round up. Newspapers in English, French and Arabic have been read, shared on Facebook, insipid authors have been duly insulted, inept so-called political leaders (real oppressors, sucking the blood of the people, more like) have been exposed. All geared up for next attack.

11:00-12:30: Updates blogs. Keeps finding new photos, writes new articles. ‘This is the real face of the revolution, not the crap mainstream media is showing! Let Us show the truth’

12:30: Doesn’t eat. Having lunch is for bourgeois capitalist who have the luxury of time. The Revolution can’t wait.

12:35: Calls you. Asks if you’re a socialist revolutionary. You tell him his persistence reminds you of the black days of Stalinism, and would Comrade Trotsky approve of this oppression he’s exerting.

12:36: Whimpers. Did you just call him a STALINIST????

12:36-18:36: Reads.Writes.Researches. Reads. Writes.Researches. Occasionally speaks to self and computer. Reads. Writes.Researches. Reads.Writes.Researches.Sends emails to political groups admonishing them for lack of activism. ‘I want the flyer ready for this Saturday, I insist, we need to spend the afternoon traipsing after people, pressing it on them until they’re too scared to refuse’. ‘Did you do the flyer? Did you?’ ‘Ce n’est pas sérieux!’

19:00: Has dinner with you. Artfully leaves books on the hope that you’ll read them. You toss the anthology of the Bund aside and very purposefully open a stupid novel in front of him.

19:05: Starts actually telling you about the Bund.

19:06: Gently removes your head from the oven, promises he’ll stop, then takes off for Revolutionary meeting.

23:30: Comes back. Wakes you up ‘we’ve had a fantastic idea! We’re gonna do a flash mob, a round table and a demo on Saturday afternoon! yes! At the same time! Yes!’

23:35: Skulk as you told him no one will come to the three at the same time and why does he like waking you up all the time? Why?

23:40: Starts first Skype call of the night with Comrades abroad. Half asleep, you hear some ‘jokes’: ‘And THEN! I Told him he was an entrist! HAHAHAHAHAHA’. You believe you were facepalming in your dream.

02:40: Finally turns off light. Gives you a kiss.

02:41: In the dark. All his blissfully silent.

02:42: Asks you if you’re a socialist revolutionary.

Letter to a Revolutionary

Ya Qalbi,

Yesterday I read a letter from Mashrou3 Leila:

“Today I found myself walking down Hamra Street, humming Abdul-Halim Hafez’s ‘Ana Leik Ala Tool’ to myself, and I could swear I heard you singing the harmony into my ear. It made me giggle a little burn into my chest. I worry you might get caught in a protest, imprisoned, kidnapped, missing, gone. But I know you need to do what you need to do; I wouldn’t ask you not to, but please be safe. Someday, I promise, worry will be a sentiment completely alien to us.”

These words spoke to me, they spoke to the little demon worrier that seems to have taken residence up in my head. The letter spoke of fears of loss, it spoke of courage and of strength. It spoke of accepting the evidence of the need to fight, despite the dangers and the intimidation, despite the worry and the dread. You know this is what I struggle with the most, you know I couldn’t bear to lose you to the claws of an absurd regime. You know me, inside and out.

Leila’s story is fictional but for us it is all too real, or maybe she’s just a projection of a million fears experienced by a million hearts, making her more real than we could ever be.

You and I my friend are the children of the demise and disappointment of all our comrades before us, and the parents of an angry movement of hope : we tried and are still trying to revive the spark of contestation and revolution , and we’ve managed to a certain extent, or so I would like to believe. We’re marching for our present, yes, for our future, certainly, but we are also marching for our fallen friends, the ones who got killed and crushed and harassed and silenced. The ones who are still alive, They’re older now, they’re bitter, too, they don’t seem like they still can find the strength in them to carry on, yet you can find them next to us, their eyes barely daring to believe again, carrying in their hearts the memory of all they have lost, just like we carry in ours the smiles of those of whom we’re separated from by the inexorability of death or by the atrocity of prison walls and tortures.

My love, it seems like we have lost the innocence of youth and with it the ability to enjoy things in their superficiality. We can not be fooled anymore, and perhaps some days this realization is too painful for us to bear. My love, we are too dangerous for them to avoid us, they will hunt us down, we shall be prepared.

I keep hearing people comfortably sitting on plush chairs pompously labeling what we do: the Iranian “Green Movement” or the “Twitter Revolution”, as if Evin had never existed, as if the Iranians had never risen before the invention of social media. “The Arab Spring” now being replaced by the “Arab Autumn” or even “Winter”, as if revolutions could ever be expressed in terms of fucking seasons, as if we were sleeping and awoke like some sort of natural process, what are we, fruits or something? Pardon my language my sweet friend, but condescension irks me and I’ve never been one to shut up.

It has been a long time since we’ve started my beloved, and we are tired, yet the road up ahead seems even more tortuous and long, paved with too many traps for us to comprehend. Some of us decide to retreat, others become suicidal, we lose a few along the way, the sufferings are too much for anyone to bear.

Yet there we still are, despite the tears and the frustration and the tension and the deaths and the threats. Yet we continue, doing what we can, each at its own level, because we owe it to ourselves, to those who died, to those who fight, to those who lost, to those who are too deprived of privilege to attract wide attention to their cases.

This isn’t a Winter, this isn’t a season, this isn’t a moment that shall pass. This is a Revolution, a process, and it shall take its own sweet time.

We’re ready for it.

Collective analysis for radical change, or how I discovered (and applied) popular education

Day 2 of my AWID Forum Chronicles

As human beings, in this day and age of technology, we are constantly bombarded by information, data, facts and figures. This is why it is important to sometimes stop, and take the time to reflect on a certain topic. In and within itself, the AWID Forum is a place for learning, a place where knowledge, all kinds of it, is shared, be it through sessions, capacity building workshops, or simply talking to your neighbour, so you can for example learn that violence against women rates are sky rocketing in Fidji or that militarization is an extreme form of institutionalized patriarchy.
The in-depth sessions the forum is piloting in its 2012 edition allow for a strong focus on a certain topic, running for three hours and a half every day of the forum, a bit like an intensive lecture/participatory session. Being the Middle Eastern obsessed person that I am, I’m currently following the in-depth session on women’s rights and transition democracy in the MENA region.

After a plenary in which Rabea Naciri from Morocco and Asma Khader from Jordan spoke about the constitutional processes and changes in the region, participants broke into groups to discuss constitutional reforms, the role of media and social media in making women’s claims visible and processes on transitional justice. I was lucky to be part of the group on constitutional reforms: it felt incredibly empowering sitting at the heart of a women’s cluster, reflecting and suggesting strategies on the core laws and processes of the countries of the region. Women’s invisibility and the lack of gender perspective in the current constitutional assemblies (notably in Tunisia and Egypt) lead us to emphasize the need first of all of popular education on the importance of constitutional reforms and second of all, on the absolute necessity to have assemblies of women drafting their own version of the Constitution.

The issue of negotiations with conservative powers came up: as feminists, where should we draw the line? What are the non negotiables? Should we have a long term vision and keep our radical agenda and invest on education and awareness raising or should we cede on some points in the short to mid-term to insert ourselves in the debates and decisions? But if we do, would that keep the integrity of our thoughts and vision or who would be compromising the aims of our struggle? There are no clear cut, one size-fits-all answer to these questions, they take in-depth research, historical perspective, thinking and anticipation, input from different experiences and expertise to have a clearer picture of how to influence and shape the society we hope to see and want. We are still working on what the ideal gender sensitive constitution would be, but Rabea Naciri outlined some relevant, core points that Constitutions in post revolution countries should include, such as clarity of language and terminology so as to prevent any harmful-to-women interpretations and explicit prohibition of any type of discrimination based on gender on top of calling for substantive gender equality. Constitutions should also specifically speak to the rights of political opposition and mention and include civil society and its contribution to society as a whole.

Learning doesn’t specifically require in-depth sessions: it was incredible to also learn new concepts and methodologies during break out sessions. Today, I have learnt more about the topic of popular education and how it can have a strong impact on economic education for women’s economic empowerment. This session prompted a lot of reflections for me as it helped me put a very concrete strategy on the concept of collective power of women. Indeed, popular education being collective analysis and action for social transformation, it is nothing more than what we do when we sit down on the floor of the Halic Auditorium, creating our collective analysis to participate in the social transformations Middle Eastern countries are currently facing.

Talking about our collective power and our collective voice goes beyond mere words: by uttering these very ideas, we already start to shape the changes we want to see in our world.

On a Feminist International – Blogging at the AWID Forum

I’ll be blogging for the young feminist wire at the AWID Forum, check my first post below. Here’s the link on the Wire! http://yfa.awid.org/2012/04/impressions-from-a-young-feminist-on-day-1-of-the-2012-awid-forum/

Looking at the AWID Forum programme, I felt like a little girl in a sweet shop: i want to go to this session! No, is one! Finally, I sadly had to pick several of them, wishing my superpowers included duplicating myself.
This Edition of the AWID Forum focuses on transforming economic power to achieve social justice and gender equality. Right from the opening session, the tone was set: as feminist, we focus on relationships of power, and on how power dynamics affect our lives, our rights and bodies. The financial and economic crisis has brought tremendous pressure on peoples in general and women in particular, as women are more at risk to find themselves in situation of poverty, unemployment and precarious working conditions in the informal sector of the economy. Austerity measures lead to significant cuts in social spending such as health and education, increasing women’s vulnerability as women’s health is put in jeopardy and possibilities of education are reduced; yet banks are bailed out and saved and multinational corporations carry on exhausting the earth’s resources and making huge profits. As Gitta Sen put it at the opening session, the end has become money, growth and profit while the means are the human beings.
Faced with this situation, we as feminists do have an opportunity: an opportunity to mobilize, organize and influence public policies with alternative interpretations of the economy. In other words, it is high time we shake the orthodox mathematical paradigm of current economics to build new concepts to be used in gendered economics. Such transformative economics include feminist interpretation of the economy where women’s work in the informal sector is taken into account and where the reproductive role of women and the gendered economy of care is valued and recognized, as social organization usually put domestic and care work on women’s shoulders.
Economic power dynamics are not the only relationships that will be discussed over the upcoming four days, as issues of body image, sexual and reproductive health and rights and political phenomenon and militarization will be tackled.
The Forum also introduces in-depth session, longer sessions focusing on a specific theme. Among them, the session on democratic transitions and women in the Arab world was extremely intense and interesting, both online and offline. Offline, because women from Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Iran shared first and foremost their stories of hope: as Thoraya Obaid clearly stated at the beginning of the sessions, there is no denying that revolutions brought dynamics of change. Ahlem Bel Haj from the Association Démocratique des Femmes Tunisiennes stated that not only were Arab countries in a transitional democratic process, but that they were first and foremost engaged in a revolutionary process: words have their importance, as emphasizing the revolutionary process keeps social justice and labor rights demands, key demands of the revolutions, in the picture.
Talking about words brings me to the online debate: when tweeting about comments made by panelists and participants that feminists needed to remain vigilant when facing political Islam groups as they could represent threats to women’s rights, some tweeple told me that such a language could be perceived as the language of counter-revolution and that now would be the time to be optimistic about the opportunities ahead. The conversations and work groups during the sessions today and this online debate lead me to this conclusion: as feminists, we are part of a progressive, subversive mouvement, which organically implies always remaining vigilant of conservative forces. The previous regimes in revolutionary countries in the regions were in no way women’s rights champions: it doesn’t however mean that we should turn a blind eye to the situation currently unfolding. We not only need to remain vigilant and alert in developments, as we have always been, but we also need to draw parallels with other countries and learn lessons from the past, as has been mentioned by Sudanese and Iranian feminists at the forum, to try and build a global feminist solidarity network that is enshrined in the universality of women’s rights.

Talking about solidarity and a Feminist International really nails down what this Forum is about: bringing out and mobilizing the forceful, inspiring, so-strong-it-could-move-mountains collective power of women.

Happy AWID Forum!

Eternal

Those who are free will never die.

Today I’ve tested blood, and anger, and despair, and hope and love, love, love, inconvenient, incredible, ridiculous, painful love. Love for a land that will not yield, love for a people that will not cave, love for a standing humanity that refuses to crawl.

They’ve chased me up today, up and down the streets of my sacred city, throwing tear gas at me, aiming at my head and my back, they tried to shoot me, they saw blood and death and injuries and cheered with delight. The fools! They think they’ll choke us up with smoke, they think they’ll strangle the revolution, they’ll think if they beat us hard enough they’ll silence us.

Tell them, go, run and take our message with you, tell them: we shall not know silence until we are free at last, we shall not know peace of mind until we’ve gotten rid of all of you, we shall not abandon our fate to the hands of the mediocre, we shall stand and run and scream until you are deaf with our will, until your cowardly ways are shown to the world and dealt with. Go, run, run and tell them: we are not afraid, our cause is eternal, our right to bread, natural, our thirst for justice beyond what your mind can grasp.

Do not whimper for your friends, for they have forsaken you and will not ask twice about your health, they will look for others to do their dirty work and we will fight them again, for we only know one word now, and that word is ENOUGH, for we only breathe one word now, and that word is ENOUGH, for we only live for one word now, and that word is ENOUGH.

Today I’ve tested blood, and anger, and despair, and hope and love, love, love, inconvenient, incredible, ridiculous, painful love. Today I’ve watched as blood trickled down the beautiful faces of the women of my land, melting in the chestnut and black of their hair, I’ve watched as they yelled, oblivious, at the evils of a regime.

Today I took my fist and raised it to the sun in an eternal gesture of resistance, and I’ll keep pounding the sky until my fist unfolds in a glorious V. 

Victory.

It’s a Sister Thing

An evening like so many others at a random Geneva party on a wooden boat a couple of years ago. I remember a guy asking my friend and I who was the eldest of us two, thinking we were sisters.

Let me get this straight.

My friend Myriam is Moroccan, she’s slender, has hazel eyes and her legs go all the way up to her armpits (Yes, I know, I should hate her, but somehow I can’t seem to be able to bring myself to it).

I’m Lebanese, slender is not a word I would use to describe myself, have deep pitch black eyes and legs, which, oh well, go more or less up to where people’s ankles seem to be (Mind you, I’m not really complaining, after all women DO come in all shapes and sizes).

The only resemblance Myriam and I might bear is our semitic nose (I might start complaingning here) and our common struggle for hair ( Moan Moan Moan).

Not really twins then.

Faced with our bewilderment, the poor (Syrian) guy went on to explain that we had a very “oriental” friendship, which apparently is supposed to mean that we act and seem very close to one another, linking arms whispering secrets, adjusting each other’s hair (essential when you’re an Arab, the frizziness being so all over the place it might actually block people on their way), in a word behaving like sisters might.Off he went, but the thought stayed with me, all the more because he same comment befell me again at university, when our international criminal law teacher took to calling another (tunisian) friend and I “The Two Sisters”.

Is it? I mean, Is building friendships on the model of sisterhoods really an oriental trait, or is more of a womanly thing to do, or is it simply something to do with specific personnalities?

The Middle East calls her friends habibti, the French have the glorious Ma Chérie, the North Americans will cajole with Honey or Darling, so no big difference here. The one thing I’ve noticed that might defferentiate oriental friendships from European ones is that we all seem to be members of the “We Like Fussing” gang.

I fuss over Emna’s weight, she fusses over my hypochondria. I badger the nurse (wou yaret the nurse, the receptionist at Myriam’s doctor) with ten thousand different questions about Myriam’s results, health and general state of well being while Samia grows white hair over all of us. Dina pretends she doesn’t fuss, but will call, Gtalk, sms, e-mail and facebook you at the slightest trace of tiredness or sadness or whatever in your voice, all the while pretending she’s not worried. Have you eaten enough habibti? Are you ok habibti? Yalla don’t worry habibti, it will pass. We can’t seem to be able to rest until we’ve habibtied each other’s blue in the face.

Acute shared anxiety disorders or extreme affection? Let us not answer that (ok yeah, probably both).

Thinking on our friendships, I realise we really are like sisters, but the nice ones you know, not the kind that grows green with envy watching your new pair of boots that you probably didn’t need (everyone knowing the sane attitude to binge shopping is encouraging it, the person indulging probably having her own reasons). Us? We’d probably go: Oh habibti I got them on Asos, did you like them, khalas next time I’m online I’ll get a pair for you, or even better d’you want me to send you the link now? We’re not saints, take it from me, we can be unpleasant to lots of people, we just love each other very, very much, to the point where we can have endless dinner conversations swapping subjects from new shades of lipstick, to clothes, to personal issues to shaping eyebrows to the quest of the ultimate anti frizz serum to Dina’s job in a security Think Tank to empowerment sessions to new finance products at Thomson Reuters to female condoms to the International Criminal Court and the last Lumumba’s case.

However, I don’t think it’s an Oriental thing, I don’t even think it’s a women’s thing. I think this is only about several people eyeing one another in a classroom at 9 years old or at 20, looking at each eyebrows, caps (seriously, Dina), crazy skirts, blue coloured lenses, lime and purple Vans, and something in our heads going “Ding Ding Ding Kinship”. How could we not end up like sisters?

– For Samia, who’s probably illuminating Morocco at this very moment with her Grace and Smile