Last week I heard the unfortunate news of Abu Firas’ passing. He died of a heart attack in his sleep. I was saddened and  at the same time happy when I heard the news. You see Abu Firas was an amazing man who I trusted, loved and shared a lot of traffic time with. He was one of the few drivers I used constantly when in Amman. He had been integral to my social and professional lives. He was special and so even though I am sad he has left us, I am happy that he had a painless  quick and simple death. To go in your sleep is perhaps one of the best ways to go, and knowing that he worked hard for that good death is reassuring. He deserved it.

For those of you that don’t know him, Abu Firas was a man you could count on to be where you needed him, when you needed him. He was patient, driving for hours in the heat or the cold in his old beat up car and in the new one. When you needed him to wait outside for “10 minutes” he waited the half hour and the hour and never got annoyed. He was funny with his falafel, George Bush and Tony Blair, and donkey driving  jokes that many of us heard over and over again.  He was honest even when he over charged us. We knew he was over charging us and he knew it, but he also he knew when to give us a break and when we should give him a break. He was the lynchpin that connected so many of us , never forgot any of his customers, for he always asked, always, about old friends that have left and new that he just met. He was dependable and ran many errands for me and others alike picking up, dropping off and collecting all sorts of goods from all over the city. He had an amazing memory for places not just because he was a cab driver, but he cared and made it a point to know. We even had our own names for the neighborhoods and the streets because of all the errands we ran together. He was who you called in the middle of the night to pick you up even if you had no money because you could always pay him next time. His passing, to me, marks the end of an era. No longer will I be able to call him and ask for a ride when the sun is high and the traffic murderous. No longer will he wait patiently when the sky is dark and the streets empty and unwelcoming to take me safely home. No longer will he pick up my mail at the post office and bring it home to me when I visit Amman. No longer will he wave as he whizzes by me on the street and call out my name.

I got one last ride with Abu Firas and we chatted and looked after each along the way , each in our own way. I am glad I could say good bye to him, for I was at the airport, and airport farewells are somewhat more resonating than the quick thank you in the city.  Good bye dear man, you will be remembered. He was special.

Abu Firas

One Last Ride


This is being circulated around the web and came into my inbox. We need to be vocal we need to be visible we need to use logical rhetoric. I am reposting their email that calls all of us to action. View their work so far and see how you can help!





Dear friends,

We are a group of Arab women from Jordan who have come together in
response to the vicious attacks by Israel on Gaza. Our aim is to spread awareness across the globe on the atrocities and encourage all responsible citizens to act in the name of humanity. Help us give voice to those who have been silenced by doing the following: 

 1. Visit our YouTube links and rate us positively!

We need your views so we can become the first Arab youtube clip to get onto the most viewed page
The YouTube clips address the following:
On the Humanitarian Situation

On Israel’s Violations of Humanitarian Law

On the Media Spin

Our Call to Action


2. Forward this message to all your friends and encourage them to do the same! Make sure everyone you know watches these videos!

 3. Join our Facebook group and share our videos with your friends!

4.  Add our links on your website and/or blogs.

5.  View our Call to Action episode on You Tube on the 30th of January 2009 so that we may reach our goal of becoming the most viewed clip on YouTube so as to give the crisis in Gaza the exposure it desperately needs.


We need your support! Please help us! For more information, please
email at

In solidarity,
Voices for Palestine


Today I buried a bird. I have never buried anything before, let alone a living creature. The bird was carefully placed in the ground, wrapped in a white shroud. We covered him with a stone, and when the earth covered his little body, we placed more stones on his burial site. He was a loved bird, and so we chose a hill side to bury him in. When we were done my friend turned and said “he can now fly free”, no longer in his cage.


He meant something to her, and it was important to her that we do this properly. There was no ceremony or fuss, just dignity. His death was accidental and brutal. When we found him, he had a gash across his neck. It was obvious he had been attacked. He lay on his side, lifeless, songless. There was no dignity in his attack, but we gave gim at least that when we took him to the hill. His final resting place.


When I picked him up, I felt nothing. When I buried him I felt nothing. When I walked away I felt nothing. Life ebbing away, destroyed, stolen, ending, means nothing. I felt that way not because it was a bird, but because death to me means nothing. People, animals, things all come and go. Everything ends. It doesn’t scare me or sadden me. It just is. The only thing it I ask of death is for it to be dignified.


How many times have you come across themes like live your life to the fullest you never know when you are going to die? I know I have come across this theme in numerous forms and apparitions. I know I am a staunch believer in this concept. A friend of mine forwarded to me a video the other day. It was of Steve Jobs the founder of Apple delivering a speech at a graduation ceremony. He had a similar message; I found it very inspiring and uplifting. 

He spoke of connecting the dots and how you try to look forward and connect the dots but you really can’t. You need to look back to connect the dots. I thought about that and I thought about how I view life. Am I predestined to do what I am doing? Am I working towards a preordained, pre-prescribed path? I don’t think so. I think that we make our own destinies. What these destinies are though is something you can only figure out by exploring your past as much as planning your future. But even with planning you can veer off track and end up doing something spectacular. I for example am a computer scientist by formal education, however I am so far away from that and it is great. If I followed that plan, which I did for a while, I would be miserable. 

Jobs also spoke about fulfillment. He said something along the lines of live everyday like you are going to die. Death has an amazing way of waking us up. I always think of not my death but what imprint I will leave behind. I was at a meeting recently when a development colleague said something very profound. He said, and he was quoting someone else “Children are the message we send to the future we will never see.” And I agree wholeheartedly. What I want to leave behind is nothing material but positive imprints on people through the interactions I have with them. I don’t think I need to even leave a genetic imprint with a child of my own genes, because I know I can pass on what counts not through genes but through life. 

My cradle was not my choice, and perhaps even my grave will not be. But my destiny is as is my imprint in life. I choose the messages I will send out. I hope my choices are right.

For the whole speech by Steve Jobs click here:

Its funny how someone’s absence in our lives can impact us, just as much as their presence, if not more. We all have central figures in our lives that at one point or another depart for whatever reason. We never fully realize how important they are until it is too late. Talking to one of my friends we compared father stories. We both grew up without this central parent figure in our life. Today, we both talk about how we are affected by their absence. My experience is quite tragic, and I will not go into that right now, but the culminating result is the person I am today. The good the bad and the ugly of it allJ

Sometimes we are lucky to have spent significant, quality time with these persons, other times we aren’t. When they are gone memories are all we have and if we are lucky the reservoir of these memories is large and full. We can build from it a picture of dreams, goals, aspirations, pains, sorrows, a life. When those memories are sparse they leave a void. That only pictures, documents and oral histories can fill.  People don’t like their picture taken, don’t want to keep mementos, live through life without keepsakes. This maybe one of the most selfish decisions we make. We leave nothing of us but scant memories in people’s minds. Perhaps we should change that. Keep journals, take photos, or write blogs. Consciously leave a piece of us so that our spirits are passed on to those who want to remember us, children, parents, lovers, and friends. I always wonder how people will remember me when I die. I know there is enough of me out there that they can piece my life together with a bit of effort. I just hope I will have time to write a memoir of a full meaningful life.