Three generations of uprootedness

My family left Egypt in the early 1960s, after the trauma of the Suez Crisis and when life under President Gamal Abdel Nasser became untenable for some minorities, such as for my French-speaking, Christian Syrian and Lebanese grand-parents.

Burning candles in Brussels

What places we fall in love with tells us a lot about who we are. But they tell us more, I think, about who we want to be: it is as though, when choosing to spend time somewhere, you indulge a certain fantasy about your future self. The place mirrors your inner longings. You hope its aura somehow leaves an imprint on you, guiding you towards your new, improved self.

Better than mindfulness

Literature, however, presents a winning recipe. If poetry and novels should not be lumped into one category, they both, like mindfulness, are slow and deeply sensorial experiences. Good writing will enthrall through sounds and visuals, all playing out in one’s imaginary. In turn, the weight of the book – the soft feel of the paper and the rougher edges of the cover – and the smell of the pages engage the sense of touch.