Magazine columns

In the land of milk and honey

When you’ve got shampoo on your hair and your eyes are shut it’s terrifying to be in the shower. What if there’s someone behind the shower curtain? Someone who doesn’t like me that much.
That is a chilling moment. Without provoking myself, all the horses of fear are galloping in my mind.

While having the conditioner on my hair I have time to think about all my fears. When I was little I was afraid of vampires and headless widow ghosts. I was also afraid that the President wouldn’t give me Christmas presents or the killer doll would end me while sleeping.

Those were fears that didn’t have anything to do with reality. Correct me, if I’m wrong.

When I got too old to be scared because of these dreads, I got new, even more terrifying things to panic about. I thought I was so mature and wise. When you’re twelve years old and you’re taking yourself seriously you don’t fear anything childish. You have to have real fears. Something like cancer. Twelve-year-olds don’t take vampires for granted. You have to have something real, something you cannot make up just by yourself.

So I was twelve and I was sure I wouldn’t see my 18th birthday. Something chilling was growing inside of me.
I didn’t have a clue where the cancer came from. But that’s the nature of fears: they lurk in the shadows and surround you. Then they strike.

Nowadays I’m afraid of KELA (social insurance institution of Finland) taking the student sponsorships away from me. I’m afraid I won’t have enough course credits. I’m afraid my studies will be delayed or I will misplace my earrings. They are dull fears, I know.

The fact that these thoughts came to my mind in the shower isn’t because of me. I think the man called Hitchcock and Psycho had their role in this. I realized that nothing that I fear is just my personal fear. Someone else is creating the things that keep us awake at the night. The media is feeding us with their truths and thoughts. Our sub-consciousness is picking fears like groceries in a super market.

Our fears doesn’t tell much about us. They tell so much about the world we’re living in.
What if my childhood had been different? Bombs, poverty and hunger - they would have overcome the vampires. I’m lucky to be this coward that I am. All the sleepless nights of my childhood are nothing to these fears of another world.  So let the fears dance around us. I’m not afraid of shower curtains anymore.

Tea ritual
 by Ghassan Humadi

I would like to tell you how tea has always played a special role in my life at home. My wife’s family is from the Middle East, and a cup of strong black tea with sugar cubes is an essential daily ritual. Tea is important; I have grown to enjoy the rituals of making morning tea. 

It may sound silly, but I prefer the normal kettle, which requires a watchful eye to remove the heat when the water has boiled. However, the electric kettle is much quicker than using the stove and is a little more efficient on the basis that when the water has fully boiled it switches itself off

Usually I consume tea more than any other beverage. Black tea has a number of health benefits, it also includes a considerable amount of caffeine. This caffeine can have many positive influences, such as assisting me to feel more alert or giving me additional energy. The common negative effects of black tea include increased nervousness and difficulty in sleeping. However, I drink tea, repeatedly and in large quantities and I think that I run the danger of becoming addicted to caffeine.

Today I am not in a rush; I went off to the kitchen. After a delicious breakfast, I was feeling less alert. I was feeling fully comfortable with making the tea according to a special process.

I set the stove on high, filled a teapot with cold water from the tap, until half full; and then covered the kettle, using an open flame under the kettle to heat it up. When water is boiled in a kettle, through conductive heating, it naturally creates quite a circulation at the bottom and bubbles on the bottom and side of the kettle well before the water gets near boiling. When the water is evenly hot, bubbles rise to the top and vapor pressure keeps causing steam to rise from the kettle, Depending on the level and quantity of water, it can need10-20 minutes to come to a the boil.

I like the whistling sound to tell me that the water is boiling. The sharp cry of a boiling teapot resonated across the entire house, the noise faded as I took away the kettle from the stove top, set it aside and turned the burner off.   I started adding the leaves of tea over the boiling water and a small amount of cardamom. When I put the leaves of tea in, I look closely at my tealeaves to see if there are small bubbles forming on it.  The small bubbles that cling to the tea would keep the tealeaves floating, even after it is soaked and would normally sink. Teas are always delicious when the white floating bubbles disappeared. I know the perfect amount of time to let the tea steep.  I set a timer on my phone. In the kitchen, there was the rumble of plates, cups, spoons, drawers being closed and cabinets being opened.

My tea glasses are generally small, handleless, and often colorful. In addition, my teapot is not only beautiful, but the teapot is crockery, so it is ideal for keeping tea hot for a long time. When the timer goes off, I entered the room with a smile and a tan plastic tray. Then I bring the whole tray to my desk. I have a little tea ceremony at my desk. Carefully coordinated on the tray are the teacup and saucer with matching floral style, a small bowl of sugar cubes (as well in the same style), small spoon, and the teapot. Between the teapot and cup are a pile of napkins, and a line of peanut butter Oatmeal Cookies.  

I sit in a big recliner. The recliner has the ability of rotating in any direction, which allows me to see the television across the hall. Pouring the tea, I take my first cup, and commence reading the newspapers. I want to enjoy drinking tea as conveniently as possible. The first cup is very significant, as it includes the nature of the tea flavor. It is cardamom, refreshing, and oh, a bit sweet, I like strong, sweet flavor tea. Seriously, I cannot get enough of this tea.

More significantly, my traditionally method of heating water will involve me in the eternal harmony of tea making. What more satisfying ceremony could there be than to experience completely the sensual intuition of listening to the water heating, taking just the right cup to match my desire for of tea, monitoring the leaves steeping into the water, breathe their freshness, fragrances and smell of cardamom, and in the end, taste the pleasure of tea?

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