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Archive for August, 2008

Season of Migration to the North

My rating: 3 3/4 out of 5

Season of Migration to the North is a mysterious novel by the well-known Sudanese writer, Al-Tayyib Saleh.

It was originally written in Arabic, but is translated into English and French (I read the English version).

It tells the tale of a young Sudanese man who had come back to his local village after spending seven years in England, studying poetry at a university there.

Among all the people who had greeted him, he spotted one, Mustafa Sa’eed, a stranger whom he did not know. All the villagers knew very little about him, only that he had a business in Khartoum.

One night, after the young man hears Mustafa narrating some English poetry when he was drunk, he grows more suspicious and curious about him until he urged Mustafa to tell him his true identity, which Mustafa had never told to anyone before.

It turns out that Mustafa Sa’eed was a brilliant student who was sent to England on a college scholarship, where he had complicated relationships with various women. Mustafa Sa’eed does not tell the young man his whole life story, but instead gives him a key to a ‘secret room’ in his house for the young man to explore and learn more about him.

After Mustafa Sa’eed unexpectedly dies, the young man opens his secret room to discover the past of the stranger who had settled in his village.

I enjoyed reading Season of Migration to the North, but I took pleasure in the little hilarious bits and dialogues more than the actual story. To be frank, I didn’t understand some parts of the novel, especially when the young man enters Mustafa’s room.

While Season of Migration to the North is more of a “Dorian Gray” ghostly novel, it depicts in depth what the Sudanese society was like in the past and how ignorant villagers used to think and treated their wives.

In 2001, Season of Migration to the North was selected as the most important Arab novel of the twentieth century. (Read more on BBC)

This is an enjoyable, entertaining novel that will cover some History, African studies and culture.

Read another review

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I’ve started a new blog yesterday called The School Episode which will be about my experiences and opinions in grade nine. I’ll be covering topics like bullying, friends and cliques.

visit The School Episode

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I have recently read a kids’health.org article about how cliques make kids feel left out. It comes to the conclusion that not all groups are friends. A clique is a restricted group where there is always a leader and you can’t be accepted into it unless you follow certain rules and share the opinions of the clique members (especially the leader). People join cliques in order to feel secure. If they’re left out and get into the clique, they will do whatever they can to stay there, even if it includes leaving their best friends and not sharing their real opinions.

In my class, girls seldom hang out in pairs. They always hang about in groups which I never fit in. First of all, all they talk about is the new fad, Noor, a Turkish television drama show and what is forbidden in Islam (like drinking Pepsi?).

I usually read books during breaks, but one time I decided to join one of the chat groups. They were talking about Ramadan, which was coming very soon. I decided to share my opinion and told them that what I liked in Ramadan was the dried Apricot sheets which are only available in that month. They completely turned my off by immediately sticking the tongues out of their mouths in disgust and bragging about what they hated in it and showed that it was disgusting (bad body language for making friends huh?).

I’ve tried all the other groups but what they talk about is completely boring. They don’t read books, are not interested in computers, and don’t seem to engage in any activities or sports to discuss. All they do is watch TV and talk about the celebrities of Noor.

All the girls interrupt each other. There are also the group members who try to ignore you and make you feel different and give you the impression that you’re boring.

During my first 2 days in my school, I tried to hang out with a clique but the problem was that when we used to walk together I was always left behind and they didn’t even seem to notice me when I got fed up and slipped out. There’s the queen of the group who’s always in front and the wannabes race each other to be next to her.

One day you think you’re part of a group and the next day you seem invisible.

My advice to you is to not to hang out in groups where there are leaders, which are cliques, and to sometimes float between chat groups. But nothing beats a best friend.

Articles you should read:
how cliques make kids feel left out
coping with cliques

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Here are 4 BBC sites I’ve discovered that you may like:

  1. Blast

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    Blast is a BBC site for young people interested in art and design, dance, film, music, writing, games or fashion.

    Each category has a sub-site where you can discuss topics related to your interests, read about events, see submissions by other young people and submit your own, get advice from experts, download tools and lots more.

    It’s a great place to explore and be inspired by other young people.

  2. Bloom
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    Bloom, an interactive flash site, shows you how to "make smarter decisions about the things you can do to become more climate-friendly" by helping you find suitable actions depending on your lifestyle that make a difference in the environment.
    Each time you make an action, click on its seed and it’ll bloom into a flower. The more environment-friendly actions you make, the more flowers will bloom in your garden. It’s a great way to track your progress.
    Also, read facts, opinions and debates to see how much of a difference you’re really making.
    learn more
  3. GCSE Bitesize

    If you’re preparing for the IGCSE exam, then this is a highly recommended site for you. It has summaries and useful skills on all of the subjects of the exam including Spanish, physical education and ICT. Download free audio related to your subject and play games. It’s easy to become a member and discuss subjects and experiences with other people. 
  4. Slink

    Slink is an online magazine for young teen girls where you’ll find advice on everyday life, information, entertainment, health, games, fashion and beauty tips, and lots of other stuff.
    It’s a fun and informative site to check out.

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Have you ever needed graph paper for school or music paper?

If so, then you’ll love printablepaper.net, where you can download hundreds of detailed types of paper such as lined paper, dot paper, score sheets, hexagon graph paper and much more.

It is very simple to download papers: just click on the type of paper you want and it will be downloaded as a PDF document. Print the paper then use it!

Visit printablepaper.net

Music Paper with ten staves on letter-sized paper in portrait orientation paper    Lined Paper narrow-ruled on letter-sized paper in portrait orientation paper   Law Ruled Paper paper    Graph Paper with four lines per inch on letter-sized paper paper
free music paper, lined paper grids etc…

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YouTube has been blocked in Sudan since July 22nd for various reasons. People using ISP of the national telecom for connectivity such as Sudani and Zain cannot access YouTube, but Canar Telecom users seem to have no problems accessing the site.

Blocking YouTube prevents people from expressing their opinion online, and not everybody visits YouTube to watch porn videos. Some visit it for educational purposes and for fun.

Here’s the easiest way to access YouTube that a classmate told me:

Instead of typing http://www.youtube.com on the address bar, type http://youtube.ca. I think this is the local site for Canada. The videos stream well and I don’t see any problems that way.

visit the links below to read more:

YouTube blocked in Sudan?

Group protests Sudan Telecom’s YouTube blocking

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Title: The Film Club
Author: David Gilmour
Genre: non-fiction

Could you imagine a father who lets his teenage son drop out of school as long as he watches 3 movies a week?

That’s what David Gilmour, a re-married former film critic did. His 15-year old son, Jesse, a heavy smoker and drinker, is miserable at school; so one day his father asked him whether or not he wanted to go to school. After Jesse mentioned that he hates school, his father told him that he’ll let him quit school under those conditions: 1- That he watches 3 movies a week selected by him and 2- That he quits drugs.

As you read along, you’ll know what ups and downs occur in David and Jesse’s lives and what Jesse learns from watches over a hundred movies.

The 3 years of film school was a great moment for David and his son because teens don’t spend that much time with their fathers at that age.

The Film Club is a truly entertaining read that you’ll never get bored of. It is written as a memoir on the point of view of David, where he writes his observations on his son in a hilarious and amusing way.

David Gilmour, like any father, worries that whether letting his drop out of school is the right decision.

The Film Club is definitely a must-read that you will love.

Read about David and Jesse

NYTimes book review

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