A very plum… plum


Whenever I bite into a plum, I am always reminded of “The English Patient,” when Count Almásy tells the nurse, Hana, after biting into a plum: “This is a very plum … plum.”

I love that line. Its gramatical simplicity tells us that perfection is being what one is. The plum is perfect precisely because it is a “plum… plum.”

If only we could live our lives the same way – “a very life … life.”


– “The English Patient” was written by Michael Ondaatje (1993) and made into a movie under the direction of Anthony Minghella (1996). Both versions are wonderful.
– The bowl is from Turkey, and I bought the plums this morning at the market.

It happens when I tell a story

It happens when I tell a story.

For the lady sitting in the kitchen, cleaning green peas from the pods, my stories make her smile. As she listens to me, she distinctly recalls her first kiss and that first embrace so many years ago. I can tell by the gentle way she leans on the side as she reaches for the pods. As the mountain of peas grows, a discreet smile paints itself on her thin lips, expressing secret longings. As they open slightly, they release a soft sigh that I feel had been kept inside for a very long time. She looks up at me. She is silent and yet, I can read countless stories in her eyes.

For the children sitting in a circle, some leaning against each other and others looking at their toes, my stories fill them with wonder. They listen and see me gesticulate and exaggerate, and suddenly they are transported to the desert where the immense night sky is filled with countless stars. Some, they tell me, can even hear the gentle “cling clang” of the wooden bells baby camels wear. And when they leave the circle, the setting of their play has expanded infinitively.

For the man sitting next to me in the bus, my stories open his heart. He tells me how he felt when his first child was born, and when his second one died at just nine days old. He tells me with his eyes shining with tears, that his most precious desire in life is not to have a mansion, but to hold his son in his arms just one more time. He continues to talk and this time, I listen.

All this happens when I tell a story.

I like to tell stories. Maybe it is because I carry in my Arab blood the millenary tradition of telling stories and reciting poetry; or maybe, it is simply because I love to share and colour things around me.

Why don’t you try it one day? Tell stories to strangers and you will see how their eyes will shine and smiles will faintly trace memories and dreams on their lips. Open your heart and other hearts will open.

It happens to me all the time. Such a precious gift to give and to receive, don’t you think?

Now and again, some people may not want to listen or partake. That is fine of course. I then write my stories down, often in the form of a poem, and come here to share and colour the world.

Thank you for reading.


The Tao: three treasures

If I may, I share here one passage from the “Tao Te Ching,” a book I actually read every morning. I read this passage to my nine year old son today, after we had a discussion on patience and reaching compromises with people who may not want to do so. I thought it offered three pieces of advice, which applicability is apt for most situations in life. Thank you.

“Some say my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice,
this loftiness has roots that go deep.

I just have three things to teach:
simplicity, patience and compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both your friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings of the world.”

– Poem 67 of the “Tao Te Ching” by Lao Tzu (VIth. c. BCE), translated by Stephen Mitchell (1999).