USING THE POET AS MUSE TO WRITE A MURDER MYSTERY

Mouna Mounayer (The following is adapted from a presentation I gave as a guest speaker at the Lebanese American University–on the 14th of April 2022–for an annual event honouring Lebanese poet Jawdat Haydar) Today, for the most part, the muse is out of fashion, relegated to the attic of literature. At least that’s what I …

THE ROAD TO TARGU MURES – part 4

Family history is all the rage. More and more people are joining ancestry sites and seeking to travel to their ancestral homelands in search of answers or to immerse themselves in their culture and heritage. Romania is no exception. With the help and guidance of Raluca Spiac, CEO of bespoke travel agency Beyond Dracula, British-Lebanese …

KILLING HUMBABA

The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest surviving work of literature in the world. And at the risk of ruining all the movies, books and plays you are ever going to see or read, it is safe to say that the Epic is pretty much the basis for every story ever told.

THE BROMANCE OF GILGAMESH & ENKIDU

The Epic of Gilgamesh is a poem about the legendary Sumerian king of Uruk. It dates back nearly 4000 years and is humanity’s oldest story, not to mention the first bromance ever recorded.

THE ROAD TO TARGU MURES – part 3

Heritage tourism is attracting more and more people. They are looking for authentic experiences in the places they visit, and more often, to immerse themselves in the culture and history of their own past. The ancestry boom is helping countries preserve and digitise their records. With the help of Romanian travel agency Beyond Dracula, a …

THE ROAD TO TARGU MURES – part two

Today, searching for ancestors is big business in the tourism industry. A twenty-five-year search for her mysterious grandfather led writer-director Mouna Mounayer to the heart of Romania. Surrounded by the majestic circle of the Carpathian Mountains, Targu Mures held the first real clues to his origins. Raluca Spiac, CEO of Beyond Dracula, organised and accompanied …

THE ROAD TO TARGU MURES – part one

By Mouna Mounayer Today, searching for your identity through ancestry tourism is big business. There are millions of digitised records on hundreds of platforms, but that wasn’t always the case. For twenty-five years, writer-director Mouna Mounayer searched for her mysterious grandfather. She was on the verge of giving up when a chance conversation led to …

See, Taste, Touch, Smell, and Hear Your Way Through Romania

As we consider where future adventures should take us, the road less traveled remains as appealing as ever. Romania, a country known as much for its legends as its attractions, is not on the radar of many American travelers. And that's too bad! Mouna Mounayer, filmmaker and consultant on the creative board of the bespoke travel agency Beyond Dracula, shares five reasons Romania should top the list of places to discover.

The Coronaverse: Woman on the verge…

  The buzzing razor is loud. A mist of salt and pepper hair floats onto my face. I stopped dyeing it years ago but when it grows beyond a certain length I start to look like my grandmother. A woman of a certain age cannot afford to look like her grandmother not if she wants …

The Coronaverse: What More Could A Girl Want?

The boundaries of my world have shrunk. I live on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean. To the south lies food, to the east the pharmacy and to the west the bank. All the essentials. What more could a girl want? Have mask, have disposable gloves, will travel. Today we’re off south to the supermarket. When …

The Coronaverse

Today I begin the third week of lockdown. A friend has just sent me the latest meme making the rounds of the Coronaverse. It is a notice put up in a book shop window 'Please note: The post-apocalyptical fiction section has been moved to Current Affairs.' I send my friend a smiley face. Ironically I've …

UNRWA ARCHIVE LAUNCHED

I have the great honour and pleasure in announcing that I have been working with UNRWA to help launch their unique visual archive on the history of the Palestinian refugees since 1948. The site was launched yesterday after a great deal of hard work from teams on either side of the Atlantic. If you want …

BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL CLOSING CEREMONY

The buzz at this evening's closing ceremony at the Beirut International Film Festival was palpable. A week long celebration of film ended with an award ceremony for the best short films and best documentaries. Having watched all the films as a member of the jury it was my great honour to read out the winners. …

ORION AND ME

Looking up at the stars, from my balcony overlooking a wintry Mediterranean sea, my heart smiles to see Orion looking down on me.  The great Greek hunter, father of the biblical Nephilim, ancient Egyptian constellation of rebirth and the afterlife has been my winter companion these past twenty years.  It seems fitting that the constellation …

MAD DOGS AND ENGLISH MEN…

I am neither a mad dog nor a man and only half English at that but sometimes I feel like I have tarried too long in the midday sun.  Beirut in the midday sun in July is hot, humid and divine - if you're looking from a distance. Close up the city is awash with …

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