Monday, 11 December 2017

Drum Circle Etiquette — The Do’s and Don’ts

Life is very much like a drum circle; those who drum, those who dance to the beat of the drum, and the audience who watches them both.

As many of you know, I have been religiously drumming for the last four years. Mostly in drum circles, either in Venice Beach or at the Full Lunacy full moon event the One lucky Soul community organises at Dockweiler Beach here in Los Angeles. Naturally, all this time taught me a whole lot about drumming, drum circles, and people.

Drum circles are known to be where you go relax and let loose; it is also where you get creative and be yourself. You can know much more about the benefits of drumming and playing music in general in those previous exposés of mine: How Drumming Changed The Way My Brain Processes Music and the more recent The Intertwining of Music and Sexuality ― A Djembefola’s Tale.

As such, there is a number of unwritten guidelines which are understood by most regulars and old-timers. Being plagued by a philosophic mind which thrives to write about the unutterable, reminding you of some of those “do’s and don’ts” will hopefully ensure that the drum circle experience is enjoyed equally by each and everyone, including oneself. Technically, I have been writing this article in my mind for those entire four years — chronicling, reasoning, weighting one point at a time. The following thorough observations are all based on first-hand experience in addition to some further readings.

1- When arriving at a Drum Circle try to greet the players before joining in. If you don’t know anyone, a simple eye contact or friendly nod would do. It creates a certain harmony between those who create music together, and connect and communicate with each other. In case you have been invited by a host, saying hello upon arrival or perhaps a later goodbye before leaving — or both — seems like an organic thing to do.

2- Listen to the music before playing. Observe who’s playing what; the different beats and the instruments involved, who’s leading, who’s following, who plays solos. Also observe the dancers if there are any; what rhythms are they dancing to, which drummer(s) are they resonating with. 

3- Now that you have a clearer understanding of what is going on around you, as you integratively fit in, try to complement the music being played with the intention to support it. Do not mimic the beats of other drummers. Be creative with your own rhythm while synchronising with the overall melody. 
Yet, never get too distracted by your drumming that you stop listening and become disconnected from the soul of the circle. 

4- Know that the occasional eye contact between band members is as essential as the nod between security personnel. It reassures them that all is going smooth and that they are all doing great. It is certainly normal to zone out sometimes, but if playing with others, one must stay aware of their surrounding. For the musicians, beside helping that no one really goes out of tune, there is a also this certain dreamy gaze moment of sharing the ecstatic high with them. This has a tremendous effect on the players, the music, as well as on the audience.

5- Make sure to leave Rhythmical Space for other players. I recently learned this new term and I couldn’t be happier to finally find a name for that nameless thing I had been pondering. I used to say: It’s all about patterns; your own need to synchronise with the players’. This is what is succinctly called Rhythmical Space.

You see, if one is constantly playing, how will others find the creative space to express themselves? The only way for them to do so would be to get louder, which leads to blocking all other tunes while significantly restricting them by making them hear only their own drumming. Obviously the overall outcome will be negatively impacted if that is the energy spreading around. 

Conversely, when we give others the chance to display their tunes — and patterns — without distractions, we will then have our own chance to creatively build upon those patterns with newer ones. In the simplest terms, this is how real music works. There is no domination in music, even if there is a leader. Quoting from the Tao Te Ching, “By not dominating, the Master leads.”

That said, remember that neither volume nor speed mean quality; we certainly do not have to drum as loud or as fast as we can every time. Oftentimes low, soft tunes can be a great way to complement drumming. This is when more subtle percussion instruments like shakers and cowbells get to work their magic.

Equally remember that we all have an inner beat — think of the heart; some simply learn how to express it outwards and possibly make a melody out of the different tunes.

6- Following on Rhythmical Space, it is a similar case when there are multiple soloists. The “Solo Space is something which I personally have to deal with in larger gatherings since I consider myself a soloist who is capable of drumming around, over, and through the collective beat being played across the circle.

In truth, this is why I’ve been chiefly going to the Venice Beach Drum Circle only on Saturdays now, as Sundays tend to be a tad too loud for my taste as a drummer. From the sheer excitement and the sight of the dancing women, multiple soloists end up playing at the same time, while the rest tend to hold the same mechanical rhythm for hours at a time. Many Sundays though remain great to party, have fun, and to just be.

Quoting from an article titled Drum Circle Etiquette by Arthur Hull, which I came across after writing this piece and Googling its title out of curiosity. A reason why I eventually settled on adding “The Do’s and Don’ts”, even though the initial title came strictly from my head. There are, however, other articles titled Drum Circle Do’s and Don’ts. 

Hull insightfully writes: “Soloing through a drum circle groove is very much like a bird flying through the forest. But the “solo air” above can’t accommodate more than a few people soloing at the same time. If there is more than one soloist available in a circle be sure to share the solo space with them. The best way for two or three drum soloists to play through the groove together is to have a “drum dialogue” with each other. In a facilitated drum circle event a good facilitator will have found all of the advanced drummers in the circle and would be “show casing” them individually or encouraging them to trade solos with each other.” Open your ears, Ned Flanders with the earplugs.

Some Sunday at the VBDC in 2014

7- Dancers at drum circles should do their best not to give their backs to any one player for too long. If it’s crowded and there is no space to move around as in the above photo, a simple 90 or 180 degree turn every few minutes would do the trick. First, because drummers do not particularly enjoy staring at the back of a person, unless of course the dancer is twerking or grooving on purpose for them to see. Second, because it may be blocking their view — of the circle itself or of other dancers; as well as obstructing the air flow, especially for those who drum sitting down.

8- Do not under any circumstances use an unattended drum or any other instrument without asking permission first. Music instruments are like babies to players, quite a personal matter, so it’s not worth getting anyone pissed off. If you happen to ask someone, make sure you are not wearing watches, rings, or metal bracelets first, then maybe they would agree; maybe they wouldn’t.

9- Visibly intoxicated folks who cannot control themselves shouldn’t show up in the first place. If there already, it is better for everyone if they stayed outside the circle, or to just leave. At a more public circle such as at Venice Beach, this may be somewhat tolerated as it’s much harder to control. But at a more private circle as Full Lunacy for instance, you will be asked to leave, by myself personally. 

I never felt the need to add this bit of info in the introduction of the event until a knobhead showed up totally plastered this last time, mindlessly crawling on his knees and freaking the dancers out — which is something he is usually seen doing around Venice. Stuff like that are bound to happen during events and gatherings, especially when the numbers increase, but I will make sure to handle such people. Remember, drum circles are not that place or club where you go to get pixilated. The true experience is more holistic than that, even spiritual, one might say. I know for a fact that at other drum circles the rules are actually real rules; if you don’t follow them you will not be allowed in.

Actually I ended up writing said tosser online, informing him that he has been banned from all future Full Lunacy events.

10- On that same note, if you choose to drink alcohol at a drum circle, do it outside and not right inside where people dance. In other words, be discreet and respectful to the circle and the musicians rather than showing off while walking around with a full bottle in hands — like that other dude. Bear in mind that the drum circles discussed here are the ones taking place in public locations where alcohol is prohibited anyways, at least in the U.S. So if you will still go for it, as some do, do it at your own risk, be considerate, and do not ruin it for the rest. As mentioned, holistic, spiritual, healing therapeutic, community experience are words to consider when stepping into the drum circle world.   

In actual fact, I heard from Andy, an old-timer who has been around since 1965, that not too long ago at the Venice beach Drum Circle when someone drank booze, the drummers would stop and ask them to leave.

Similarly, try to avoid smoking in the middle of the circle. Drumming and dancing are a form of exercise during which drummers and dancers alike are required to breath fresh air in order to optimally perform. So again, consideration is key.

Full Lunacy on December 4, 2017

11- If a drummer is really into their Flow State, do not attempt to say hello using your hand, requiring them to stop and shake yours. While some have no problems doing so, others mind the interruption, and they will probably not stop drumming — yet may still mind the sudden pause. A smile or eye-contact along a basic word or a tap on the shoulder work just fine. You can always greet them later when they take a break. The same can be said about interrupting them for other reasons, like asking for a lighter or talking about this or that. 

12- Not because a girl or a woman is standing by watching then she is interested in being taken to the middle of the circle to dance or to have a selfie taken with. Some are just there because they are curious, some may be interested in someone specific, while others may simply not be interested in dancing with, or being touched by, a stranger. So better not be sleazy and embarrass yourself, possibly causing her to leave — again, ruining it for her and the rest. I hope the senseless bald plonker gets to read this. 

13- If you drum while standing using a belt/strap and can move around, make sure not to position yourself too close to someone who drums sitting down. The level of the drum will be directly opposed to their ears which could be disturbingly loud. And because they are sitting down, for them to move requires a full cumbersome “migration”. Same story when some go stand in front of sitting drummers and start casually drumming, blocking their view and tunes as if they do not exist.

14- This is not a do or don’t”, but rather a suggestion. I encourage everyone who goes to drum circles just to drum to every now and then try to enjoy the gathering as a non-drummer. You could dance, use shakers or cowbells, or purely just watch. The experience teaches you how to carefully listen; how to better understand other drummers’ melodies. Hence be able to later complement them with your own. You also get to know the perspective of the dancers and spectators, as well as how to just BE.

15- Last but certainly not least, whether advanced or beginner: Have fun. Keep it simple. Let go of your worries and obsessions, leave them all behind. Be One with the music and everyone. And enjoy the drum circle uplifting experience. 

More photos can be viewed on here: Venice Beach Drum Circle and Full Lunacy.


The Intertwining of Music and Sexuality ― A Djembefola’s Tale

How Drumming Changed The Way My Brain Processes Music

A Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos

Another Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos

A Wacky Day Out at LA Burning Man Decompression in Photos & Video
Kool Tunes Everyone Should Know

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Why Thanksgiving Dinner Is Served So Early

Being an outsider, national holidays are not that much of a celebration to me. For instance, several years ago on Canada Day I didn’t know that the stores were closed in Toronto and it was a bit of struggle to find dinner. The same can be said about my time later in the U.S. Whether it’s Thanksgiving or even Christmas, I almost always spend these holidays alone. The alone part is nothing knew, but rather it’s in contrast to most people who have family and friends to celebrate with on such occasions. 

This had been the norm until a few days ago when I received a message from a Brotherman and relative, inviting me to a Thanksgiving “get-together” with his cousins. Neat.

Yesterday he sent another message, informing me that he’ll pass by at 3:00 pm. I confirmed. But then later on, the word “Thanksgiving Dinner” came to mind, because I have heard it so many times before. It was never “Thanksgiving Lunch”. Hm. 

If I wasn’t aware that his cousins live close by on the Westside of L.A, I may have thought that we’ll be going somewhere far to leave that early. To satisfy my curiosity, I simply Googled the matter and the following are the findings.

First, there are already full articles about the query: Why We Eat Thanksgiving Dinner So Early. Yey! I’m not alone.

Second, the interesting answers...

The historical reason is that “dinner” was once the main meal of the day, served around one or two in the afternoon, even earlier; while “supper” was a lighter meal eaten by sunset — sometimes just a snack. This practice may have originated from all the way back to the Middle Ages.

Another reason goes back to tradition: It is how things have been in my grandmother’s household while growing up”. So when children grow up and have families of their own, they just do it as they always did, which, depending on each family, is usually by 2 or 3 pm. In fact, some mention that they used to get to their grandmother’s place by 2, then the food is served by 3. 

Interestingly, this bit reminded me of my late grandmother’s house in Cairo where she would host a weekly family lunch — called lunch though. Her household would welcome family members and their friends every single week since the day I was born. From 2 to 3 pm is the arrival time, which differed from guest to guest. Then we proceed to the dining room for the yummy food and the loud conversations. 
Ah, I miss her lovely soul.

A third possible reason why Thanksgiving dinner is served earlier in the day is the convenience for those travelling guests. Apparently, some do travel for long distances to be with their families on that special occasion. So it is for them to have time to arrive, devour that hearty meal, rest for a while, then say adios. I now recall watching a footage showing insane bumper-to-bumper traffic in Los Angeles.

An additional reason which was totally new to me is that Thanksgiving Day always synchronises with American football games — two games were originally played, becoming three in 2006. The concept of football games being played on that day dates back to 1876, shortly after the sport had been invented. Probably due to the fact that most folks had a day off then. By now, watching NFL after eating may seem like an integral part of the itinerary for many Americans.

A final theory is that by starting early, people can enjoy a more relaxing, longer day of celebration. As mentioned by some, this way they can eat from the leftovers like turkey sandwiches and pies when they get hungry later. They actually consider this one of the plus sides to eating early. You know, more time means more eating from the same food you just ate from a few hours earlier. Yeah, people are funny like that.  

All that said, not all Americans have their Thanksgiving meal at 2-3 pm. Some serve it at 7 pm as they do with their everyday dinner. 

A similar phenomenon can be noticed during Christmas, during which sitting on the table can start as early as noon. But again, not everyone does that as it depends from family to the other.

I wonder how people deal with consuming this full, sit-down meal made of turkey and gravy and potatoes and pies that early in the day while their norm is to eat much later. Perhaps that is why many feel so stuffed afterwards. 

Personally, my lunch had been a banana and an avocado for a few years now. So whenever I go out for lunch I try to make sure to have a much earlier breakfast rather than the egg-brunch I have daily by 10:30-11. Just to have time to digest and get at least a bit hungry. Often a salad could then be enough. 

In recent years when I would go back to Egypt for visits, those weekly lunches at my grandmother are where I reconnect with the entire family; also the food is mouthwatering. So those days I make sure to have a truly light breakfast, that by 3 I have to be hungry.  

I truly hope to be a bit hungry today. Then again, I am not required to stuff myself like a turkey to play along the festivities. But I sure am excited for the experience as I am excited to be around people; I even wore pants, plus, wait for it, shoes, for the first time in a while. How fancy. 

While scribbling those last few lines at around noon on Thanksgiving Day of 2017, I received one more message from my buddy, asking if passing by at 2 instead of 3 would be fine. I giggled and told him what I’m writing about, to which he replied that I should probably share the story with everyone over our 3 pm dinner.


Why Cats Are Not Dogs

Why Do Cats Give Massages?

Why Flamingos Are Pinkish-Orange

Why Hippies Are Sometimes Called Bohemians 

Why the “No-Smoking” Sign is Still Used by Airline Companies

Why Americans Don’t Travel Much

Why NOT a Bidet?

Why Japanese Females Have Bowlegs

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Have You Ever Noticed? — Situational Awareness and Street-Smartness Examples

Have you ever noticed something then wondered if others could notice it as well? That something is not that obvious such as the weather change. But rather, it is an insight gained from observing certain patterns, usually over a period of time, which you have probably never worded before. On rare occasions perhaps no one has ever did. 

I often wonder about all sorts of matters, then write them down. Interestingly, since I began sharing those kinds of thoughts I found that Im certainly not alone. So I’m sharing even more.

Conventional wisdom tells us that some people
s awareness level is higher than others. Think of 007 and Jason Bourne as examples. Also George Carlin and Jerry Seinfeld who are capable of writing a whole sketch about a five-second encounter. Whether they were born with that exquisite attention to details, or they developed it later, or — most likely — a mixture of both is a whole different question.

Said high awareness allows one to not only notice things which others usually don’t, but also who notices first, last, and who doesn’t notice.

Before I share some of my personal Have You Ever Noticed questions, let us first review a couple of related terms to get a more thorough understanding.  

The first is Situational Awareness. Situational Awareness or Situation Awareness (SA) involves our ability to identify, process, and comprehend information which is constantly flowing in. It is defined as the perception of environmental elements and events with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status after some variable has changed, such as time, or some other variable, like as a predetermined event.

In less technical terms, situational awareness is
paying attention to what is going on around you; by scanning the surrounding environment, spotting any anomalies — danger, challenges and opportunities — while making detailed assessments.

Not just that, but situational awareness also entails performing all the above while
maintaining the ability to conduct normal activities. So the essence is to pay attention to the surroundings while not appearing to be paying attention. If I allow myself to reduce SA to a single word, the closest would be is Mindfulness.

On a parallel note, the second more colloquial word that comes to mind when pondering such topic is
Street-Smart. You see, being street-smart means being savvy and experienced; it is someone who has a certain kind of intelligence that enables them to learn from trial and error. And situational awareness is gained from experience. It is the wisdom and the needed skills to survive in the real world, rather than, conversely, following more abstract knowledge which is largely based on the experiences of others — such as book-smart.

Sometimes, though, one kind of ‘intelligence’ can induce the other and a certain balance is manifested. Being “world-smart” as well as “word-smart” would then lead to astounding achievements.

All that said, observation is one great one to learn. Because it is through which we see patterns, which are the real guru. I have written and shared the following everyday observational questions over the course of the past several years. Now I gathered ten of them herein. You will notice that most of the answers are rarely ever simple, and that is why they pique my interest and tickle my juices.

In addition, the answers received from readers can be equally illuminating. Oftentimes they may lead to even more questions and answers. So feel free to add your own in the comments.

Now let us ponder on and on.

1- Have you ever wondered what makes us uncomfortable to walk, jog, or drive next to strangers who are going at the same pace, that we either have to slow down or speed up?

2- Have you ever noticed how when we trip, slip, or lose our balance in public we always turn around and look at the ground as if we’re blaming it for our quirkiness? It’s like we cannot believe we could do this to ourselves.

3- Have you ever noticed how dogs, and cats, who attentively watch you eat — hoping that you share with them — are often tricked by thinking that whatever food falls down from your mouth or spoon or fork into your plate can be retrieved by looking on the floor underneath the table? Who knows, perhaps it’s part of their body language and they do it on purpose to show you that they actually want to eat from the food.

4- Have you ever thought of the tie as a phallic accessory used to point to the man’s ‘brain’ and draw attention to it? No, well you can start as of… now.

5- Have you ever wondered why by the end of every year many people always love saying that this has been “the worst” year due to some deaths or catastrophes or whatever? It seems like they forget that every year there will be deaths and catastrophes and whatevers, as well as fun and happiness and good things. That’s how life is. Looking at the brighter side of existence is a choice. As simple as that.

6- Have you ever been tempted to cordially congratulate a woman for pregnancy but didn’t do it because you were reluctant that it might just be her belly? Say the truth.


7- Have you ever noticed how dogs, and cats, casually stretch their bodies whenever you catch them stalking you, while eating of example? We humans actually do the same.

On a similar note, cats sometimes sneakingly stretch when they really like you and want to come closer so you can pet them, yet they still want to look as if they can keep their cool around you. Apparently there is name for that specific body language and it’s called a “Greeting Stretch”, which is a posture used only towards someone the pet likes and with whom they are comfortable. I believe in some cases it is deliberately done to show you that comfort, perhaps to pet them or just as a way to express their love.

8- Have you ever noticed how die-hard fanatics of a certain sport rarely ever know how to play the sport themselves? And I mean those who overidentify with the team and lose themselves in the hyper-masculine culture surrounding many sports nowadays. 

The ones who do play can also be fans, but usually they are not the overly emotional or aggressive type. I think it’s because they have a better understanding of how playing really is.

9- Have you ever noticed that when two people are walking or jogging towards each other in a narrow path or passage they feel sort of obliged to synchronise their eye contact? It cannot happen too soon since it will get awkward by the time they approach and acknowledge each other — if it does happen. So what some people do is reduce that time by turning their head away for a moment or two, then as they get closer to the other person they look straight again before smiling or nodding. Yes. Someone has to put this everyday nothingness into words and I humbly volunteered. 

10- Have you ever noticed how some older folks end their Facebook comment and messages with a signature? “Beautiful picture. Aunt Dolores.” Omar Cherif.


Dealing with High Awareness and Empathic Accuracy

Things I Got Rid Of To Become Happier
Who Are We?

My Journey Towards Self-Transcendence
The Parable Of The Cow

What Is Overcompensation?

What Being Conscious Means

The Significance of Letting Go

Change Is The Only Constant 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Spell of the Topless Redhead

After having wild nights of drumming and festivities I learned that the next day is better spent ‘receiving’. The night before was Full Lunacy Drum Circle so I woke up late the following morning. This, as some of you may already know, is a Full Moon Drum Circle gathering some friends and I have have been organising for a while here by Dockweiler Beach in Los Angeles, which is hosted by the One Lucky Soul community. I went out to check what’s up to find a stunning female figure lying on a chaise longue by the pool getting some November sun.

What a beautiful sight to wake up to. To check out the waters, I did just that. I headed towards the pool, opened the gate, and proceeded to dip my hand to see how cool it is. Of course at the very same time getting a closer look at the new guest. The water was just perfect. I went back in to gear up then returned to the pool. 

The more in-depth glance revealed an alluring late-20s-early-30s redhead who happened to be topless. Djeez. An edible pale body showing that she is not Californian complemented by perfectly round B-cups, along a couple of tattoos. Even though I didn’t want to stare, no matter how cool I was trying to appear with Eric Clapton and B.B. King’s Riding with the King blasting from the laptop and the plastic ‘glass’ of rosé, I couldn’t seem to be able to not check her out every 90 seconds or so. Tops. Ridiculous.

At some point I decided to get up and take a tiny cruise around the pool, scanning the outside world over the fence. You know, as if I’m so over with what’s going on the inside, so seeking some otherness. Not just around our shared territory, but also “on the scout” mode. Obviously because I’m a wild animal who has originally grew up as a feral child.

In a way, I wanted her to feel comfortable enough to keep ‘being’. Pretending to be all causal about it. Maybe not pretending, because I was somewhat casual, just overdoing it a little bit to show that I am not deprived. After all, there was only the two of us and she could have hid herself whenever I came in earlier. Because, you know, I may look like a potential ‘dangerous’ mate. But she didn’t. And I love that.

Then in another way, the scenery was simply invigorating. I cannot and will not lie about how entranced I was. So as more wine was being sipped, here was I finding creatively elaborate ways to keep doing the checking out. The last of which is moving the wine glass to the other side, which happens to be hers, just to take that look whenever I take a sip — more or less about 90 seconds, making me take smaller sips because that’s quite the fast pace. 

What truly kept me interested though is that I caught her eyes gazing at me multiple times, which was a great way to give some balance to the chemical equation.

I must confess that I have been bewitched by the charming Ginger Spell a long, long time ago. Perhaps during a past life of some sort. Mea Culpa. However, then and there under the sun that pale flesh seemed so desirable and appetising, that I kind of felt like a starving zombie.

In actual truth, one of The Queens Of All My Dreams — fantasies — had always been a redhead. I tried to stay as away as possible from the physical aspect of that ‘perfect woman’ image. But again, I can’t help it much. A man got to dream as he got to fantasise. And a redhead to devour and please and have mad fun with is what seems to invade a large portion of those lustful fantasies. 

Interestingly, I learned later in life that people with red hair require, on average, about 20 percent more general anesthesia than those with black, brown or blond hair. Likewise, gingers are more resistant to the effects of local anesthesia, such as the numbing drugs used by dentists like Novocaine. This extra sensitivity to pain is due to a mutation in a gene (MC1R), which results in the production of a substance called pheomelanin, causing the red hair and the fair skin. But they do have a soul. Many are also highly seductive.

Back to the pool... After about an hour and a half the woman got up, getting ready to leave. We only shared a smile; because I felt relatively powerless, that I couldn’t even think of something suitable to say as she passed right in front of me on her way out. “Are you a new guest of the hotel?” Or “Did you ever check the world-famous Venice Beach Drum Circle, which actually happens to be starting in a couple of hours… just 1.4 miles away by the end of the street?” Nothing. Speechless! Dumbfounded is actually a telling word here... and Spellbound, together.  

Later my body was almost twitching from desperation; from the sheer fact that I had been mesmerised to the point of coming so close to someone who seemed like a fantasy queen, yet not being able to do anything about it — because I wanted to appear all cool about it. What a tosser.

I also kept replaying all the possible steamy sexual scenarios which could have followed if we had clicked. 

I’m usually pretty fluid around women, but that occasional vulnerability... ahh, Ladies and Gents, is one seemingly paradoxical way to feel fully alive.

You know I speak of self-control and self-mastery. However, I hold that beauty goes beyond those realms. One actually feels powerless when faced with beauty. I also hold that is part of the human condition. Some of us may seek it more than others. But what is life without beauty? Not much. There is no reason to deny this fact of life; it’s actually a sign of our humanness. Even to those who seem they got it all under control, those who act upon that image with a certain poise and confidence, rare encounters like these do make one feel somewhat out of control. I simply choose to call it being human.

Eventually, I did what I couldn’t do when the woman was there: Take a pic to commemorate the encounter, including my bummed-out face.

As my neighbour tried to comfort me later in the day, “Maybe she will back. Maybe she will be”. He said that what is frustrating is the act of not trying. Because when you do a move, whether the answer is positive or negative, it doesn’t matter much. Because you tried. I wholeheartedly agree. He also mentioned that the topless bit means that she is not American. I agreed again because her features did seem European.

*mumbling in my sleep: Maybe she will back… maybe she will be. 

The next morning I checked the pool to find the same woman along an equally beautiful friend of hers. So she was back, still topless while the friend had a bikini on. Wicked! I joined them a tad later for my daily water Tai Chi-like hydro stretching — a sort of mating dance performance as an advertisement of my health and fertility. Once out of the water, I finally made the move.

Hi. Are you ladies visiting?”

Yes, from the U.K.” Aha — there was indeed something about the combination of skin colour and red hair that says British Isles.


I introduced myself before asking if they had ever heard about the Venice Beach Drum Circle. When they said no, I explained what it is and when and where to find it, then wished them a smooth day. Back to the room to get the laptop and a glass of wine and again to the pool. I had preconceived plans to ask them if they wanted some wine the next time I go refill, but they got up and left before it happens. She did say goodbye, though.

What is ironic is that I ended up not going to the Circle that Sunday, hoping they didn’t either. They didn’t show up the following few days and they must have gone on their way after the weekend.  

Now I can carry on with me life, silently yearning for a more passionate encounter with a hypnotising redhead. Just to break the spell.

At the very end, it requires a healthy dose of self-reflection and metacognition for one to be able to think about their own thinking; to become the observer of the observer. Not only is it educational, but it’s also highly entertaining. Truly, those who don’t know how to make fun of themselves don’t know the joy they’re missing.

Know Thyself; the rest will follow.


A Letter That Hit Me In The Feels

For The Love Of Storytelling

I Kissed a Grandma... and I Liked It
Rooting Into The Past

My Correspondence With a 31-Year-Old Reader Before He Passed Away

Some People I Shot

The Night We Turned ‘Beast Mode’ On

A Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos (2014-’15)

Another Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos

A Wacky Day Out at LA Burning Man Decompression in Photos & Video

The Intertwining of Music and Sexuality ― A Djembefola’s Tale

How Inspiration is Transferable

A Saturday Evening with an Old Brotherman & His Doggy

Why I Share Stuff

The Night I Became a Stripper

Give That Man Some Groceries
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Monday, 6 November 2017

A Random Call That Hit Me In The Feels

I remember my first interaction with Lonny and it was during my early days at the Venice Beach Drum Circle. After warming up for a while by the Boardwalk with the guys we headed towards the sand. I thought I’d help him with his instruments. So as we were walking side by side, he asked how long I have been playing; to which I replied as I long as I can remember and that I would always drum on benches and desks. He then remarked that as soon as I put my hands on the djembe he knew that I was a player.

“You know what you do?” He asked. I curiously inquired. “You count. Most people just play,” he said. After a brief moment of reflection I explained that even though it occurs subconsciously, but yes I do count. And it was Lonny who first noticed. 

Almost three years later, a friend and I had an idea for a documentary about the VBDC. We gathered some old-timers, including Lonny, and began shooting. This was when I reminded him of his remark and how it boosted my self-esteem on those first days at The Circle. He proceeded to explain how pleasant it is to play with someone who counts: And that’s because you can synchronise with them by doing your own counting, which has a magnificent effect on the music and the final melody.

During the interview I was stunned to know that Lonny is 89 years young — the age of my grandparents. Yet he still makes it almost every weekend to the beach with his instruments just to jam with the rest of us. What an inspiration. 

He actually became my living example of age is just a number. I mean, we all know those who became ‘old’ way earlier in life, while look at Lonny kicking ass with his sweet tunes week after week. I think he serves as a huge wake-up call to many who allow life to live them rather than the other way round. Be like Lon and do something you are passionate about instead of watching TV all day long, slowly decaying.

More can be found on A Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos (2014-’15) and its Sequel.

Alex and Lonny getting ready for interview

Fast forward to a few days ago when I found a missed call from an unknown number. A while later, it was followed by another, then a message on the voicemail. To my surprise, it was Lonny. It was the Full Lunacy Drum Circle event that night so I couldn’t call him back.

However, he called back the next day, twice, leaving more messages. When I returned the call, he didn’t pick up and it was my turn to leave a message. Two more missed calls from him before I finally called back and he picked up. 

All this time I was sincerely wondering what it was. In fact, once I dialled his number that last time I had a pen and paper ready — for some odd reason I had a feeling that I would need them.

Hey, Brother. 

Is this the famous Omar Cherif? I couldn’t reach you for days.” He jokingly said. “I hope you’re doing well my Brother. I wanted to ask you about that documentary we shot some months ago.”

I explained that Alex is finalising it and it should be ready soon. “Whenever it will be, we will all get together somewhere to watch it.

He then suddenly said “You’ll need to write that down!” 

Oh, well the pen was actually in my hand. He gave me his address, explaining how to get there from Venice. 

I said I will definitely pass by someday, though also mentioning that I don’t have a car. The man then didn’t hesitate to say that he can pass by to pick me up anytime in his. How cute. You can even see him holding his phone in our featured photo together because he insisted to take another one using it. Auwh. 

Carrying on the phone conversation: “You know I like you, Omar, and I want to hang out sometimes. Because I know how much of a good person you truly are.

His words hit me in the feels, causing my sympathetic nervous system to produce goosebumps all over my body along some watery eyes. I thanked him for the heartfelt words, mentioning that coming from him it’s even more humbling. 

I love you, man,” I blurted out.

I love you too, Brother.

We’ll speak soon and make it happen. Have a wonderful night.” 

Long Live Lonny The Beautiful Soul.

Lonny the inspirational Venice Beach Drum Circle icon


A Letter That Hit Me In The Feels

For The Love Of Storytelling

Rooting Into The Past

My Correspondence With a 31-Year-Old Reader Before He Passed Away

Some People I Shot

The Night We Turned ‘Beast Mode’ On

A Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos (2014-’15)

Another Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos

A Wacky Day Out at LA Burning Man Decompression in Photos & Video

The Intertwining of Music and Sexuality ― A Djembefola’s Tale

How Inspiration is Transferable

A Saturday Evening with an Old Brotherman & His Doggy

Why I Share Stuff

The Night I Became a Stripper

Give That Man Some Groceries

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Selective Hearing Among Men and Women

Have you ever spoken to someone right in front or next to you and they didn’t acknowledge it? Maybe people talk to you sometimes and you seem totally oblivious to what they say. Worry not, you are not alone. There is actually a good chance that you may have already heard of “Selective Hearing”, which is more or less experienced by everybody, some more than others though. But what is that phenomenon about? And why does it occur? 

Selective hearing or Selective auditory attention is a phenomenon that affects a wide variety of people and the communication in-between them. It is the action in which we focus our attention on a specific source of a sound or spoken words and filter out the rest; our ability to acknowledge some incoming stimuli while ignoring other stimuli occurring at the same time. That is, when we hear the words yet our minds cannot process or make sense of what is being said — whether consciously or subconsciously. It is also sometimes referred to as “hearing loss by attention”.  

Think of being in a loud gathering, a crowded café, or a concert where almost all of us have the ability to focus on whoever is speaking to us while disregarding the rest of the surrounding noise. The reason we’re able to do so is that our brains have come to be wired to ignore certain sounds — perhaps also learned to ignore certain people as Pink Panther suggests in the featured meme. On a serious note, in the field of psychology this effect was first defined and dubbed “The Cocktail Party Effect” in 1953 by Colin Cherry.

Before we dive any further, let us differentiate between two distinct reasons why someone may not hear what is being said to them. 

The first is due to hearing loss. The other is selective hearing which we’re discussing herein. There is a difference between physically hearing a sound — or not — and consciously registering it in the brain — or not. One thing is certain, however, not all the information presented to us can be processed. That is because there are gazillions of them, which we simply cannot follow all. So the brain does a significant amount of filtering, when it comes to hearing as well as our other senses. 

With selective hearing, you are not pretending to not being able to hear. But rather, the brain filters out “the distractions” to selectively focus on that one stimulus which it thinks is more important; hence ending up not actually listening to it to “the distraction”.

If you haven’t already thought of some man (before a woman) or of yourself by now, let me state the obvious by sharing that selective hearing is more prevalent in males than females. Generally speaking, the same goes for hearing loss among adults aged 20-69 which men are almost twice as likely as women to experience. Selective hearing is also a common phenomenon among couples who live together and interact on daily basis.

Research in England has revealed that on average, men listen for six minutes in discussions about general topics with their spouses or partners, while they engage in conversations with other men for at least 15 minutes on topics related to sports.

Researchers further noted that men have selective listening when discussing specific topics. Her feelings, problems at work, her friends’ issues, fashion/clothing/shopping, celebrities and certain TV shows all fall under that category. Sounds mean, huh. But hey, men do listen… until a certain time, then they zone out. Unless of course you mention something which interests them. Then they will focus right back in. Surprise? 

Knowing this, if I were a woman I’d always blurt out the essence in that first minute when they are most attentive. “Honey, I’m pregnant.” “Honey, I need a divorce.” Well, I guess some of them figured it out already. 

Participants in that same study identified common signs that reflect selective listening:
  • Delayed responses to questions asked
  • Blank or confused expressions
  • Singular focus on a digital device or TV

It seems that selective hearings is so widespread in the man world, that 55 percent of women test their partners’ listening skills. Obviously because they had already noticed. Also 50 percent of men confessed they were not good listeners. Obviously because they had already noticed as well.

Sounds familiar?

I am so guilty as charged, that the topic is highly interesting and I’m writing an article about it. All I can remember is a certain ex losing her temper whenever I would switch off. But she was overdoing it, which would make me switch off even more.

To her defence, however, I do zone out quite a lot. But I am quite the nefelibata after all.

To my defence, on the other hand, who and what I am requires the zone. Without it I wouldn’t be able to create. She simply just couldn’t deal with my priorities, and I understood. I would sometimes nag her by getting all philosophical, saying stuff like: When a man listens carefully to the sound of silence, he will not have to speak much. While I was amused, the smart-assness obviously didn’t help much.

All those cartoons show that it’s a universal phenomenon

What is remarkable is that according to a Study published in the Association for Psychological Science by Queen University in Canada, spouses can pick up each other’s voices better due to familiarity, even in crowded settings. Couples can hear each other significantly better compared to other voices. Just like penguins.

In fact, long-term couples tend to develop interconnected memory systems called Collaborative Remembering. They both become parts in an interpersonal cognitive system, which enables them to grow through life while relying on each other. This further shows that the selection bit is real.

What has helped me with said ex is that I have Tinnitus — ringing in the ears. So she began believing that when I didn’t hear what she said it was due to my hearing. And I happily went along with it. 

At some point, however, came the realisation that whatever I was experiencing was indeed selective, and not because of some hearing impairment. It was because with certain other people, mainly guys, I wouldn’t miss a word. But it’s because we’re talking about something I’m passionate about.

With others, though, like her and a couple of previous ‘seniors’ I had while still working for the Matrix, it appears that many of the things they would said was already registered in my mind beforehand as something not of worthy. This only occurred with those I have dealt with enough to get to know their essence on a deeper level. It is like I could see through their bullshit, which didn’t impress me much. So I sort of blocked out many of the input coming from them.

Even though I like to play sports, but talking about it with the guys as the English study points is currently a thing of the past. What does stir my juices are intellectual conversations with someone who digs you. Those can actually be quite erotic. Due to that rare mental connection one could go on for hours and hours — and I wouldn’t miss a single word. 

But before getting too sexist here, let me share that is has been likewise revealed that 50 percent of women are guilty of filtering out discussions about sport, with 33 percent switching off during anything to do with finance and technology. So the digits are smaller, but the zoning out is equally there in the woman world. With their friends, however, women listen longer and are more engaged in their discussions. 

One theory proposed explaining why men are more ‘selective’ when it comes to what they actually hear is that for our hunter-gathers ancestors, it was a survival requirement to be able to focus all their attention on a single thing — a hunting situation for instance. On the other hand, women were able to divide their concentration among more than one — watching the children while picking fruits or vegetables. Perhaps due to the less dangerous nature of the activities females took part in, they were able to multitask. And that is how the selection bit may have been hardwired into the male/female brain.

More thorough, medically-oriented explanation about selective hearing, and the sense of hearing in general, can be found on this Article. Another detailed paper focusing on neuroscience is How Selective Hearing Works In the Brain which was published by University of California San Francisco. 

Lastly, is one more finding which sealed the deal and made me satisfyingly finalise this article. It is no wonder that it is neuroscience-related. A reason why I am a sincere fan; because it takes us to the very bottom of the human mind’s inner reaches.

Until now, we knew selective hearing is a thing and that compared to women, men excel at it — especially when dealing with their female partners or loved ones. But we didn’t know why specifically that is the case. Well, the answer lies in a Study by University of Sheffield. Published in the journal NeuroImage, it was found that there are differences in the way male and female brains process voice sounds. Apparently, in the male brain the perception of male and female voices activate different regions. And that is due to the fact that both voices are of different quality.

While men are easily able to hear and understand other men’s voices, when faced with the female voice it’s a whole different tale. Females have a greater natural melody and possess a more complex range of sound frequencies. This requires the males more effort to decipher their voices. True story. That’s not even it. But to decipher a female’s voice, a male uses an entirely different and more elaborate region of his brain: The one which processes music — whether consciously or subconsciously. A finding that takes the saying “Your voice is music to my ears” to a whole new level.

Now that we know what it is and why it occurs, if you’re a woman who gets frustrated when your partner seemingly ignore your ranting, know that somehow they can’t really help it. This is not an excuse. But as we have seen, your voices are translated by men as music, hence they take more effort to be registered. The kind of topic is also another variable.

If you are a male who is often accused of willingly ignoring your missus, know that you may not be as deaf as she thinks. Although you may be after all. But also know that you are not alone. Hopefully, being aware of this information helps you prioritise your attention. Maybe some keywords would assist in retaining your focus ― or spacing out: My feelings. Sad. I think we should start seeing different people. The Kardashians. You know, the crucial stuff that matter most. 

At the very end, selective hearing is real. When coming back from work five times a week and narrating what transpired throughout your whole day or discussing a certain reality show with yours, try to consider, even for a brief moment, what’s in it for them. Sounding like Kramer explaining to Seinfeld how couples talk about their days, every single day, may not be that exciting. Of course they may love you and care about you, but also priorities and mental capacity are some of things we need to think about regarding communication. 

Whether male or female, from the speaker point of view one way to conquer selective hearing is to be as exciting as possible in the speech and stories you share with your partner, or anyone else for that matter. Perhaps also as novel as possible. That is of course, if you want to keep them engaged for more than 6 or 10 minutes.

“He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.”
― Elbert Hubbard 


The Intertwining of Music and Sexuality ― A Djembefola’s Tale

How Do We Know We Are Good at Something?

On Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing

The Intertwining of Genius and Insanity

Different Shades of Passion

How Drumming Changed The Way My Brain Processes Music

A Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos

Another Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Meet Alf عقبة — a Song Written and Performed to Entertain my 92-Year-Old Grandmother [Video]

A couple of years ago during a summer trip to Egypt I was lucky to spend two full months on the Mediterranean Northern Coast with the family. It was great to reunite with all of them in that peaceful setting. 

During such time I had a passionate date with a sweet young woman which inspired me to write a lighthearted bilingual song. The point was to sing it to my grandmother, Karima, who was 92 years old then and almost in Stage 5 of Alzheimer. The lyrics are not really addressing her, but the word play and the rhymes were all that made her laugh out loud.

She already couldn’t recognise some of us, especially myself who had been away for several years. She actually had to ask every time she sees me in the house, to which I patiently comfort her by trying to remind her that I’m the son of her daughter Mervet, which makes her my grandmother. She would look amazed, and repeats: YOU are the son of Mervat?! ( معقولة ) — really? She was not able to connect the dots, yet she would smile and let it go. Then it’s repeated all over again the next time.

So to add some fun and novelty sometimes I would introduce myself to Madame l
Ambassadrice as the drummer or the entertainer or joker” who’s here to sing for you and make you laugh. Then I proceed with some light drumming and/or simple word play. She has always loved to laugh, dance, and have a good time; and when she lost part of her mind, that didn’t change much. Despite the feeling of being lost, she still had that ability to laugh from the heart — even if it is only temporary and only on occasions. And I loved to help her get there. Simply because laughter is the best of medicine. It certainly is worth it.

I specifically recall a few instances when she would look at me and her mind cannot really grasp who I am. However, it felt like her heart could still remember. Because her face would lighten up, as if getting ready to giggle.
While looking deep into my eyes, I could sense the comfort, familiarity, the peacefulness; it all showed on her face. And that is before I say anything funny or share any word play. I guess she might have associated me with that person who made her smile and laugh, even if for those brief moments. You can probably see it in the featured photo above.

Young Karima el Gammal in Ras el Bar

After all, I had lived with her for two years as a 6 and 7-year old when my parents were away. I hold that this time has truly shaped my character and who I am as a person. It was also her who taught me what unconditional love is. We held a truly special bond ever since. So adding some laughter to her confused existence was nothing but a humble thank you for everything.

Fastforward to last Sunday when this wonderful woman peacefully passed on to her next journey at her Zamalek home in Cairo.
Since I’m all the way here in Los Angeles and cannot be with the family at such a time, I added some photos of her to this piece and am resharing it. Such a special, loving and giving soul who will eternally remain dear to our hearts.

I will also be holding a memorial sunset drum circle for her. Nothing too loud, just a small gathering in honour and memory of her great life. We’ll meet by the little pier off the Venice Boardwalk and Rose Avenue at around 5-5:30. Anyone and everyone is welcomed.

Here is the song and lyrics followed by the captures.    

May Her Beautiful Soul Rest In Peace 💗

Meet Alf عقبة


I had a date ...................... و إتشقيت
  I couldn't be late ................ بس عطيت

يا سلام عالبهجة ................. ’t was so great

Long walk on the beach ...... و مرح فالغيط
البنت لذيذة ............... She heightened my state
      Too happy am I ...................... فقمت غنيت
      Too happy am I ...................... فقمت غنيت

Wonder if she’ll change ...... و نلبس فالحيط
I really hope not .................. لاحسن أنا استويت
ده كلام مكتوب ....... Destiny & Fate 
ده كلام مكتوب ....... Destiny & Fate 

Thing is .................... لو إستنيت
شعري هايشيب ................. Offside و Checkmate
        وأنتخه فالبيت و أنتخه فالبيت   
      وقعاد فالبيت و قعاد فالبيت

 And that is why ................ في ذاك الديت
أنا مانسيت إني افتريت

And that is why ................ في ذات الديت
 أنا رحت و جيت  أنا رحت و جيت

And that is why ................ في هاك الديت
اللي عندي إديت اللي عندي إديت

 و يا سلام عالفرحة ................. ’t was so great
Too happy I am ...................... فقمت غنيت
Too happy I am ...................... فقمت غنيت

و كيت و كيت .......... See you after 8
See you after 8 ......... و كيت و كيت

With younger blonde sister Madiha in Ras el Bar
With my grandfather Yehia Hassan and first daughter Mahy at the Pyramids
Karima with her two daughters Mahy and Mervat (mother)
Another with the girlies
Karima at the farm in Sarawa
Grandma and her hairdo with baby Omar in her Zamalek balcony in Cairo
The family in Agami 1978

In Hawaii during our U.S trip in 1989
Madame lAmbassadrice
Heartwarming collage made by my sister Karima who was named after her and who has
also lived with her for a while later in life
Photo I took of her in 1999 in the Northern Coast of Egypt (Sahel) when she was still smoking her More
Grandma and sunburned boy who had just come back from a few months training
in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and about to enter the adult world — taken by the Northern Coast in 2000

Fun-loving Grandma happily dancing on a boat trip to Aswan in 2001
Karima el Gammal, Northern Coast of Egypt on August 23 2016

That day I came back from sunset drumming on the beach and introduced myself to her as the drummer.
Then I played for her sister Khadiga and herself
taken on my last summer there when the song was written
Highly grateful to have been with her on her final 94th Birthday

Always with us

Shining on and on and on

*Originally published August 2015

Poème Tragique

Lunacy — A Poem Written When I Was 19 

Coming Back To The Real 

Beth's Death — A Poem Written When I Was 21 

Mima 56 — A Poem About My Younger Sister Written When I Was 20

Lunacy — A Poem Written When I Was 19 

Coming Back To The Real 

Beth's Death — A Poem Written When I Was 21 

Mima 56 — A Poem About My Younger Sister Written When I Was 20
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...