Category Archives: Culture

#ForeverAlone: Female, Single & Taking Your Time

“May God bring you a good man and a successful marriage, ” taita (Arabic for grandma) prays aloud.
I offer an obligatory thank you.
“When are you going to get married?” she asks.
“Give me 10 years”.
“TEN YEARS?! I’LL BE DEAD IN 10 YEARS” She fires back.

Now well into my early 20s, the world is poking and prodding with the marriage questions. I went from you’re too young for relationships to what are you waiting for in two minutes. But why? Why is the search for companionship so urgent?
Is it a case of being internally programmed to need companionship? Are we afraid of the loud ticking of the biological clock? Or has the prevailing culture molded us to believe that marriage should be aspired to? Perhaps it’s a combination of last night’s left-overs?
A cynic would tell you to forget about it, while a romantic would be too busy seeing her boyfriend to tell you to believe in love.
Regardless, we’re only in our twenties, why the big rush?

Back to conversations with my grandmother:
“Why don’t you get married?” she asks.
“Taita, if I wanted a man I would go out and find one.”

We can all admit to having friends who can’t find a man. Some of us can even admit to being one of those friends. Such ladies tend to fit the following social pattern:
Morose conversations are relayed about where one meets a man. Portraits of disgust are painted when the coupled friends P.D.A. Continuous affirmations of independence are sung. They congratulate their newly engaged friends and then convince themselves that they’re too young to take this step. Other girls are often judged by them for not being attractive enough for their male partners. They fear that all the good men are going to run out. Deals are made with selected friends to marry if still single at 40. Sometimes you may even find a cat or two.

All of these young women are bright, bangin’, boot-scootin’ (disclaimer: may not boot-scoot), driven, likeable personalities who look good and laugh harder. You will often hear them complain that all the good guys are either taken or gay. Then all the good single guys complain that girls complain about their inexistence. Then they all continue meeting immature members of the opposite sex with poor grammar and bad table manners, who were only attractive by comparison to the rest of the room. What a lovely orbit of the sun.

Where am I going with this? I am going for a sweet, steady, slow-paced walk down take your time lane. Care to join me? There’s room on this path for many more…
All I’m saying is there is no need to jump on the relationship bandwagon so soon. You’re Gen Y, you’re not Baby Boomers. Spend time with your family, enjoy youthful shenanigans with mates, study something, flirt with different people, travel the world, save some money, and enjoy emotional stability while you still have it.

Marriage will come when and if it is supposed to.

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Y Give Up On Grandma

The smell is unchanged, the expressions familiar, despite the new faces.
Some speak English, others do not. Yet they are all waiting for the same thing; their family.

“Hello,” he calls out into the busy corridor of nurses and visitors. None are there for him.
“Hello,” he says again moments later. You’re tempted to wander in.
He’s been calling for days.

It’s undeniable; the hospital is a cold place. Institutionalised. Artworks on the wall failing to disguise what the old white paint has seen.

Walking into your grandmother’s room, you see her alone, though neighboured with three full beds. Neither lady speaks the same language.

“Hi taita (grandma),” her eyes brighten as she praises the arrival of company. Your face is covered with kisses.

Conversations are had, stories are told and emotions released. Eventually, she forgets who you are, despite carrying her name.
You remind her and she cries over her fragile memory.
She is developing dementia.

“Maalesh taita (it’s ok grandma), mat taatleh hum (do not worry), hayde b ji maal umr tawil (this comes with a long life),” you encourage.

Before you know it, visiting hours are over, and you’re uneasily telling grandma that you have to leave. She will sit awake in the dark as others sleep.

With each day it becomes more apparent to you that this woman is losing grasp of her old strengths. It’s a harsh reminder of a journey we all inevitably face. But you’re not sad. You know that your parents worked hard to ensure that you built a strong relationship with your grandmother. So caring for her now, as before, is natural; not guilt-driven obligation. She still has a few years up her sleeve, and you plan on treating her just as valuable as always.

However, not everyone is comforted by this feeling. Many have fallen victim to the self-indulged YOLO lifestyle that endangers the future of intergenerational relationships. For them, many respond by clenching to what ounce of life remains in a loved one, later regretting the time wasted and the memories unformed. Some are forced by parents to make the effort to visit, and show respect when doing so. Others simply do not care at all.

As Generation Y gains the tools to facilitate social and cultural change, it is cause for concern as to what will happen to our elders. Undeniably, society’s shape is transforming simultaneously with the practices of its population, causing diversification through cross-cultural and intergenerational associations. So, it is important to ensure that Gen-Y upholds traditional notions of elder respect.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 9% of Australians were the age of 70 years or older in 2008. Longer life expectancies and decreased birth rates are expected to generate increases to 13% by 2021, and 20% in 2051. As a result, there will be a greater demand on care and support services for older generations.
Do not disregard such information as simple statistics. To the contrary, they represent a generational obligation, substantiated by medical and social contributions. The youth are potential future providers of prolonged life expectancies, and with women in the workplace, lower birth rates. So, it is Gen Y’s duty to facilitate for this ageing population, morally and emotionally. The concern is not with policy or support services, as there is substantial policy initiative driven by government. It is the moral approach to this issue that lacks support. Rest assured, your grandparents prefer a visit from you once a week, over a daily visit from their employed carer. In fact, a study of long-term care facilities found that what elderly residents most wanted was respect, and this determined their quality of life.
Infamous for being the lazy generation, it is absolutely critical that Gen-Y ensures that the aged population is respected and not forgotten, during their years of stability and fragility, by our generation, and those who succeed us, simply because the system will take care of them. This isn’t like your bedroom, your mother can’t clean it for you.

Interestingly, the approach to respecting elders varies by culture. For instance, Lebanese society, like many, observes little reliance on formal measures of aged care, depending heavily on the support of family. It is a custom that has matured through generations of elevated respect for elders and valued affection to all family members.
With ease, the government has absorbed such tradition, as policy-makers hold the view that extended family be the main form of social welfare. Further, as a result of familial bonds, geriatric physicians and primary care are scarce, despite the great quantity of general physicians in Lebanon. Further, the population of approximately 4.2 million Lebanese people is serviced by only 36 nursing homes, most of which are understaffed, further suggesting the minimal external assistance being sought.

Whilst migrants have clutched to tradition when settling abroad in countries such as Australia, integration into new culture proves difficult in avoiding adjustments in children. Naturally, second generation migrant children are faced with conflicts of standards and expectations. For some, the custom of having grandparents live in the family home has continued. Others are separated by a 20 hour flight, turning to weekly long-distance calls. Many more have misplaced their worth for older family members, visiting only on Easter and Christmas.
So what is it that changes in the succession of generations? One explanation is that Generation Y is faced with a greater multitude of diversity than their parents. This includes exposure to the liberal atmosphere boasted by educational campuses, relative decreases in parental supervision and greater peer influence contrary to family traditions. Further, societal constructs placing strain on women to join the work force may be diverting the time that traditionally applied to the care of loved ones. Whilst this provides for traditional changes in migrants, it fails to address personal morality and familial value across all Sydney-siders.

A theory arguably worth noting is one developed by YSS after many train rides, much time spent on social networks, and a keen ear for music. Let’s call it, the iCulture. “I can’t be bothered”, “I don’t care”, “What do I get out of it”, “I have better things to do”; The self-absorbed, shallow and naive mentality that one will only gain from satisfying personal wants. These are the Gen-Ys who believe that their elders are boring, unintelligent, and smell funny. They are the same individuals who have more selfies than family photos, preach the YOLO life over Luther Vandross’ “Dance with My Father Again” and put parties over psyche. They are the ones who conveniently forget that their grandparents babysat and spoiled them as children. These very individuals will raise their children to forget them one day too.

There is something so valuable about those who preceded us, and in order to foster a relationship with them, their worth must not be ignorantly disregarded. Older generations have lived in a time we know nothing about. They have already learnt life’s lessons, and seen the world endure many ups and downs. They are not out of touch, nor are they judgemental. Your grandparents were young once too, and raised your parents when they too were young and reckless. Ask elders about their youth, and you will hear them giggle mischievously. They have seen it all, ultimately becoming the wisest people you will know.

So please, don’t wait until your grandfather is in hospital to see him. Don’t wait until grandma has developed dementia to form a relationship with her. It is important to ensure that you do not forget your elders when they need you most, for you will feel the hurt when they forget you.

If the last 1244 words haven’t convinced you, allow me to try the iCulture approach: imagine yourself as an 80 year old. Now think about how you would wish to be treated by your future children and grand children. So why should your elders deserve any less?

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Your Face Without Facebook.

A piece inspired by a hacker’s intrusion and my resulting time without Facebook.

Imagine a world without Facebook.
Difficult, I know. But strangely a reality that existed only a decade ago.
Whilst our parents never foresaw a world compressed by social media, most Gen Y-ers simply cannot live without it. Today, with sources claiming that there are over 1 billion Facebook users, social media’s redefinition of the way we interact with our world has become unignorable.

So let’s cross over to a parallel universe. One that never encountered the force of Facebook; where the natural evolution of human interactions are uninterrupted by social media, and this juxtaposition warrants assessment of how each affected facet of our lives may have otherwise independently developed.

Friendships

Your circle of friends would be small, and updates would be facilitated by phone calls to those who matter, as opposed to the 638 people on your news feed.
The scary part? Friendships would be built on seeing one another, not Facebook chat. Birthday invites would be sent in the mail to people who know more than your relationship status, languages and sexual orientation. And texting would replace the daily stalk.
What’s that? Real friendships take work?! Who would have thought…?

 Relationships and Romance

Chivalry is dying;
Romance is defunct;
And relationships are fleeting.
What ever happened to the days when a gentleman approached a lady in a park, asked her out on a date, and discussed music and study over a hearty meal?
Parks are now friend requests, dates are now Facebook video chats and getting to know one another is whatever image of yourself you wish to portray.
By the time relationship status’ change to confirm a bond, they’re corrupted by unnecessary Facebook drama.
In another world, maybe the traditional ideals of honesty, trust and privacy would remain requirements of a modern day relationship.

Family

Your family can be two things:
Unwillingly absent, or unnecessarily nosey.
For the latter, Facebook is the perfect tool for competitive cousins to monitor your progress and transgressions.
For those you love but never see, sometimes separated by masses of ocean, Facebook allows for greater communication and reduced periods of silence.
Without social media, the expensive overseas phone rates and irritating time differences will continue to dictate how you communicate with your family, wherever they are in the world.
For some, that’s a blessing, for others, a curse.

Self Worth

We all want to look and feel good, and Facebook helps us pretend to do that. According to MNN, 250 million photos are uploaded to Facebook daily. If only there were statistics telling us how many of those photos were edited, featured a girl posing in a little dress, or a topless gym junkie standing in front of a bathroom mirror. When teamed with check-ins portraying a stealthy social life, a friends list with names you can’t even pronounce, and a keyboard warrior conversational style, you get an individual with an unhealthy facade of who they want to be.
These are the lucky ones, because without social media, they would be forced to develop a real personality, build a back bone and increase their own self confidence. Facebook wouldn’t be there to protect them from facing the world and accepting who they really are.
Believe it or not, the value of a man is not measured by the number of likes on a profile picture, but by the integrity in which they lead their life.

Work and Business

Gen Y has been famously dubbed lazy, unpassionate and ‘generation why bother’.
And with productivity down 1.5% due to time spent on Facebook, it comes at no surprise.
However, many businesses have thrived with social media, utilising it’s qualities as a free marketing tool. In addition, new roles have been introduced to meet the demand of changed communication methods; roles that require those same lazy Gen Y-ers.
Remove these layers and you get an unmoved business landscape, with a greater proportion of Gen Y employees who still know how to impress beyond web 2.0 requirements.

Travel

Exploring the world has forever been a human desire.
Take Captain Cook for example, or the Phoenicians. They set sail for far-off lands and wrote the history we read about in books.
Today, we hop on Facebook and see photos from Abz Kebabz’ holiday to Bali, and Cellulite Sally’s check-ins around Europe.
It’s fantastic to have experiences of the world so accessible. But does it raise expectations to share and impress?
Remove Facebook from the equation and your closest family and friends will see you off at the airport for a long absence of backpacking and cocktails. Then, overwhelmed by joy, you reunite having felt forever separated, with stories to tell and photos to share; instead of one’s Facebook presence making it feel like they never left.

Literature

Have you ever read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War? But surely you’ve read the phrase: “If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril”.
How about The Prophet by Khalil Gibran? Yet I bet you’ve heard: “love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation”.
So do I dare ask to what you attribute these? Maybe a status you read last week?
Let’s live in a world where fewer youth dedicate time to recycling snippets from their news feeds, and more time to reading entire collections of classic literature.

Activism

What ever happened to Kony2012? Point made.

Don’t misunderstand me, Facebook isn’t being pinned with the blame – Twitter, Instagram, MySpace; they’re all contributors to today’s social environment. In fact, MySpace was the most visited site in the US in 2006. However Facebook is highly pertinent and its dominance in the contemporary Sydney landscape simply qualifies it as a representative for all social media platforms.

In summation, the moral behind today’s exercise is this:
Consider what your life would be like without Facebook;
Give it a try;
Watch how you approach life differently;
And then decide whether you can live without it.

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New Years You

The 21 milestone has been reached, for you and so many of your friends.
Christmas has sparkled and dimmed once more.
2012 is now a memory, and the new year has begun.
What’s changed? Nothing.
Let’s face it; we blissfully believe that the exordium of a year represents a clean slate and a new start.
We say the problems of last year will be left in the past, and the 365 days ahead will be the best ever.
While it’s nice to be optimistic, the truth cannot be escaped.
Believing that a new year means a new start is nothing but wide-eyed naivety.
You haven’t outgrown your past love-life because you turned 21.
You won’t have deals settled because it’s Christmas day.
Last year’s issues haven’t evaporated because the Harbour Bridge exploded in fireworks.
Everything remains the same. The only thing you can change is your attitude.

Take it from me; a young woman whose year consisted of better and worse, but nonetheless new perspectives on work, education, friendships, family, love and health.
Here it is, some words of guidance.
Attitude reform 101, for the New Years You.

You didn’t reach your school or university goals last year, and now you’re left with a not-so-boast-worthy GPA or ATAR.
The truth is, this topic will be raised for months, maybe even years. So what do you do?
You smile and read Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’.
Then you decide if you want employment, travel or education, and you work your butt off for the next 12 months.

You fell in love, but it just wasn’t enough to make things stick. Now you’re being followed by the repulsive feeling of your broken heart.
Truth is, your string of independence quotes seconding as Facebook statuses won’t convince your wounds to heal, only time will do that.
The initial step: accept that you were hurt. Then channel your energy into new and exciting things: a full social calender, work prospects, a new TV series box set.
At the end of that cocktail, the endless convincing and aimless rebounds lack the substance time has to heal a broken heart.

You hate your job and your boss is cutting your shifts, so the little money you make isn’t even worth it.
It might have worked for Aloe Blacc, but singing ‘I need a dolla’ won’t help.
It’s time to quit complaining and find a new job.
It’s not difficult. Edit your resume and have it checked by a trusted friend or teacher. Start applying in your field of study, or open your mind to trying new things by applying in places you never thought you would. Though, be prepared for many applications and very few responses.

A family member or friend passed away, and you want to leave the memory in the past.
Truth is, death plays a huge part in all of our lives, so we can never really escape it. Try to turn your mourning into a positive energy, to honour those lost, to support those you love, and to embrace the life you live.

You are questioning some relationships as final nerves are had, trust is destroyed, and they begin to drift.
Truth is, ignoring the facts and hoping your friendships return to normality in the new year will only increase disappointment. You need to assess each troubled relationship and the cause of it, and decide whether it’s worth mending. Although it hurts, give them, and yourself, a reality check, and if nothing improves, it’s time to jet.

You or a loved one is sick and lacks the positive livelihood once boasted.
We mustn’t let health consume who we are and deter us from living our lives. Try to relight the spark in your life or that of a loved one by sharing in the small adventures that can make us smile. A trip to the beach, a friendly gathering to watch the sun rise, a day of Playstation and pizza. No one should feel different because they’re unwell, nor should the people around them.
The one thing we all have in common is that we’re still living.

No matter what your concern, the message here is simple.
It’s 2013, and the transition of a few festive days into this new year did not eradicate the reality that we are left with the same problems, same feelings and same obstacles as 2012.
But that doesn’t mean that the good should be forgotten.
The answer to improving your situation is adjusting your attitude to achieve the desired results.
Reflect on your previous years, learn from the bad, savour the great moments, then apply that education to your days ahead.
A Happy New Year, comes from a Happy New Year You.

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Living Lactose Intolerant.

Soy Milk, mixed berry and banana shake

Soy Milk, mixed berry and banana shake

Human thrusts milkshake towards me.
Politely, “I’m lactose intolerant”.
Thick silence fills the air, jaws glued to the floor like a gamer’s bottom.
Finally, a valuable moment of relief… “That’s sh**!”
Sigh. Then follow the questions…

Stepping into my grandmother’s home, she proudly exclaims, “I made Labneh, go have some!”
Me: “I can’t Taita, I can’t eat dairy.”
In absolute horror, “You can’t eat dairy?! What is this disease?! Why were you dealt such unjustice?!”

Dessert arrives at the table, selections are assessed: waffles with cookie and cream ice cream, Lindt chocolate lava cake with a dollop of cream, and a lonely dried-up little apple crumble. At least the friends find the juxtaposition of pleasurable calories amusing.

Like many humans (particularly Mediterraneans, Africans and Asians), I am sensitive to dairy and dairy products. The running theme? No one gets it, and many don’t understand how to live with it.
As a foodie, of Lebanese decent, I was raised to eat anything and everything, and in no way, be selective or difficult. However, my intolerance to lactose walks a thin line, as I struggle to satisfy the crucialities of a quality Lebanese grandchild: education, marriage and the ability to eat. I love food, but that free-for-all attitude of intense digestion unrivaled of discontent, and God-forbid, unease, before during and after a yoghurt saturated piece of bread, absolutely throws me. I lose in that arena.

Put simply, lactose intolerance suggests an inability to digest the sugar found in milk, without discomfort or symptoms. Just as simply, it’s not a difficult lifestyle to live. Society is accepting the greater prevalence of food intolerances that were once unheard of, by profiting off conventional new products. Im talking lactose free milk, soy milk, almond milk, rice milk (milk from anything you can milk that isn’t actually milk), soy cheese, lactose free and soy ice creams and yoghurts, sorbet, lactose free chocolate… you get the picture.

Now let’s be honest with ourselves. Your friends will laugh, your mother will cry and baristas will snarl. But lactose intolerance is a great method of staying away from naughty foods, and pretending to live like a true dieter; ice cream, cheese cake and pizza free. So wave your skinny arm in the air and proclaim to the world that YOU ARE LACTOSE INTOLERANT! (Deep breaths) It’s really not so bad.

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The Life and Times of a Real Life Time Traveller

Andrew outside the Roman Colosseum

Andrew outside the Roman Colosseum

Andrew Merheb. Your average university student, with a perfectly radiant smile, iPhone and inherent love for the YSS blog.
So what is it that sets this young man apart from other testosteron-ians his age?
He’s a real life time traveller.
Merheb has travelled to more countries than you can count on your hands, soaked up more cultures than can be spotted in Parramatta, and built an immunity against the wrath of jet lag.
He even spent the remaining hours before his final exam booking flights to his next destination.

Like most students, I carry a desire to witness the world. For now, I’ve chosen the next best thing, and slightly more affordable option… A chat with Andrew Merheb.

Which countries have you visited?
“So far I’ve visited Thailand, Singapore, Lebanon, Spain, France, Italy, Czech, Poland, Hungary, England, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Mexico, the USA, Canada, Austria, and the United Arab Emirates”.

Nineteen destinations? That’s almost one country for each year you’ve lived!
Laughing shyly, “Yeah, except I did it in a much shorter period of time. If you want to travel, you’ve got to just do it”.

Which was your favourite, and why?
My favourite would have to be Spain. I Love the culture, the language, food, people and climate. I even love the Lifestyle, it’s about minimal work and being very social”.

If you could pick a city to live in, which would it be?
Definitely Madrid, Spain,” he smiles.

Country with the most beautiful women?

“There are a few. Once again, Spain, love their tans! Then there’s also Lebanon, Italy, anywhere Southern European or Mediterranean, really”.

More importantly, how about the men?
Laughing, “I don’t know, I wasn’t really paying attention to them!”

City with the best shopping?
“So far, Los Angeles. They’ve got awesome outlet malls that are so cheap! But apparently New York City is the best. I’ll let you know in a months time”.

Country with the richest history?
“I couldn’t pick just one. Firstly, Italy and the Romans, and Mexico’s Aztecs & Mayan tribes. There’s also France. But for me, Lebanon’s history of Phoenicians would probably be the richest”.

Language with the most sex appeal?
“Hands down, the Spanish language”.

Nation with the tastiest food?
“Okay that’s a tough one. I love my Mediterranean food! I’m talking French, Spanish, Italian and Lebanese food”.

Country with the craziest sports fans?
Spain and Italy. When you’re there, it feels like Football/Soccer is their life”.

City with the rowdiest parties?
Laughing, he says, “Once again, Spain! I’m sorry! It seems like every second answer is Spain. Any excuse for a fiesta I guess!”

Coastline with the best beaches?
“Mexico and Spain. Of course, that’s not including Australia, we’ve still got the best coastline and beaches,” looking proud.

Region with the greatest climate?
“The Mediterranean countries have great weather! Spain, Lebanon and Italy are great. Mexico is also one of the best for weather, it’s nice and warm all year round”.

The nation exerting the most natural beauty?

“Mexico and Canada were absolutely beautiful, worth a look if you love nature”.

The city most beautifully constructed?
“Definitely Dubai, you’ll find that it has amazing modern infrastructure. Dubai’s perfect in every way, it’s just really hot! We were enduring 45 degree days when I was there.”

Most affordable location?
“I found that Thailand and Mexico were the most affordable. The Australian dollar goes a long way in those areas. But in general, everywhere in the world is more affordable than Australia”.

Anything else you feel we should know?
“Each and every country has something unique to offer. Each of my experiences were different, and were definitely impacted by who I was with, the weather at the time and some other factors. Sometimes its hard to say which is your favourite country. Still, overall, I learnt something valuable from every country, through good and bad times. I got to experience things that would have never been accomplished had I stayed in Sydney. Everyone deserves to travel. It’s a real wealth of knowledge”.

Where are you planning to travel to in the near future?
Looking bright-eyed, “In one week from today I’ll be headed to the USA. I’ll be starting in Vegas, then heading to Miami and New York City. From America I’ll be jet setting to Jordan, followed by Israel, Lebanon and then Backpacking in Asia!” But further down the track, South America and more of southern Europe are on the to do list. I just need more money and time, and to improve my Spanish for South America.”

You may currently be feeling hugely inspired, or slightly jealous. Regardless, use those emotions as motivators for an unforgettable trip only hours away!
Travelling is one of the few things that will make you richer with money spent.
Travel Safe!

Canada's natural beauty - courtesy of Andrew

Canada’s natural beauty – courtesy of Andrew

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Meat Pie with Tabouli on the Side

Immigrants and their children are losing touch with traditional cultural cuisine as they speed through busy Australian life.

When our mothers were young, their lives were simpler. It was a life that is still led by the women back home, but doesn’t translate to mother’s current world. The family unit was much tighter, extending to include brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles; sometimes even to the other families in the village. Men worked close to home, unburdened by busy roads, whilst kids would be walked to school. The women would then be left with opportunity to nurture their palaces. So, as the day was set to begin, one thing united the women of the village. Dinner.

Food preparation is a lengthy process. Vegetables picked, dough moulded, beans broken and leaves rolled.
In the village, it pleasantly embodied the strong aroma of Lebanese coffee and sound of women laughing, blanketed by the Middle East’s warm, crisp sun. These ladies were not unified by the burden of feeding a hungry family, but by the all-encompasing value for perfection, pleasure, celebration and inclusion.
Food brought a family together; blossoming on the finest curve in a sambousik, fragility of a kibbe and richness of a spice. Women weren’t only feeding stomachs, but the hunger for family and togetherness.

Today, food is something we fit in when we can; accessed at our convenience. For some, less is more, seeking the smallest possible calorie intake in the search for physical perfection. For others, more costs less, so Maccas sounds best.

Understandable; contemporary society is demanding, with mothers working outside of the home, families living unaware of their neighbours, and kids focused on body image and Kim Kardashian.

Salwa Khalil, wife, mother of two, full-time worker and Sydney-sider, says that there is not enough time after work to prepare Lebanese foods.

If life wasn’t so busy, and we needed time to rest and relax, then we’d be cooking and making a lot more of these foods, and keeping the tradition going.”

It raises questions about how and when second generation immigrants could possibly inherit mum’s old ways of cooking. It seems these traditions have become culturally irrelevant to our westernised society. Maybe the way of the future is corn flakes, protein shake lunches and salmon steak dinners. The days of cooking with your hands and your heart may well be over.

You have to get by with finding the quickest things you can cook at home to have enough time to rest before going to bed, and sometimes that means mixing Lebanese foods with other cultures,” Salwa said.

It’s the curse of living in a city.

As a child in a country town, I was often sent to school with a container of tabouli for lunch. I’d eat it, filling up on feelings of discomfort and difference. I wanted to be like my friends, with their red licorice and meat pie lunch orders.

Thanks to city life, my wish has come true and parsley-cutting time has been limited to weekends.

Now:

  • the working week consists of buying lunch, coffee and snacks.
  • The pantry is stacked with tins of tuna and Special-K.
  • Parties indulge in unforgivable hommous and water-cracker concoctions…

Suddenly, I want that school yard discomfort back.

Still, in a society of women living at home longer, and marrying later, we’re given lengthier opportunity to adopt mum’s culinary skills. Traditionally, the village girls didn’t venture from the home until they were ready to build their own. None of these I’m moving to Newtown to be a designer proclamations.
It was about getting things done:

  1. Get married.

  2. Have kids.

  3. Feed kids copious amounts.

  4. Raise kids to be better than their cousins.

Salwa feels that her daughter is learning slowly as she helps in the kitchen, but doesn’t measure up, “when I was her age, I was running a house and a family, so I was much more skilled.”

There is a moment of self-recognised disappointment when your friends want to eat Lebanese food, and you take them to a restaurant.
I’m 20 now, I should be a tabouli-making machine. Instead, I cook a really mean steak!
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not unappreciative of such wholesome foods. I just want to share my appreciation for the food that characterises my Lebanese heritage, by embracing its finest details.

It’s tough, we’re not living in a quiet village in the mountains of Lebanon. We’re living in a fast-paced technology world, getting caught in traffic and checking our Facebooks. But from each leaf you roll, olive you pickle and eggplant you crush, comes a wealth of spirit and knowledge about your culture. So make the time to learn, watch mum’s lip curl as you ask her for guidance, and one day, you’ll be culinarily equipped to continue the legacy, and ensure Lebanese cucumbers are forever stocked at Woolworthes.

But for now, tabouli tastes ok with meat pie on the side.

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