Gratitude :: The story behind my book launch party

Since I published Graffiti Hack, incidents of serendipity have been popping up in my life. Things that fall in my lap on their own that had I planned for I would have never attained. Most of these are on the personal side and I can’t reveal too much, but this one thing, I do want to share with you.


There are thousands of details to fuss over when planning a book launch party. I was weary with the enormity of the task. But when I heart that my best friend from high school is going to be here of this special occasion from Kuwait, I just knew that I was receiving help from a mysterious source and realized that I all I needed to do was relax and enjoy the ride. Allow me to introduce you to Dr. Huda Al Mahdi. My best friend in high school. We haven’t met in over 25 years, but stayed in touch over handwritten letters, email and facebook. Last time we met we were both university students, we were both single. Out of the blue she informed me that she was planning a visit to Vancouver, BC from Kuwait. And she will be visiting right around the time of my book launch party. Hearing this news made me wear a smile for days on end. How perfect! to have her there to share in this special event.


Here is a picture of the both of us recreating a picture we took when we were in high school. As you can see, neither one of us has lost her sense of humor.

Feb 1986 – > Feb 2014


The book launch party was everything I had hoped for and more. First off, everybody in my family volunteered to help out. My father took charge of selling books. My mother decided to keep an eye on the food table. One daughter took video, second daughter helped out with the book sales, my son volunteered to take pictures. On the day of the party I arrived at the venue early to give myself time to setup. Any time I thought about a task that needed to be done, I would turn around and see somebody was already doing it on their own, without me even asking, as if they had read my mind. I sat in the venue with very little to do, everything was done for me. My dear friend Rod Malkin arrived and set up the sound system. Then he proceeded to regale us with his enchanting flamenco guitar playing. Friends of mine had volunteered to usher people in at the front door. Thank you Andrea, Marie-Line, Yasmina and many others. Finally the super talented Farnaz Ohadi arrived to MC the evening. I sent her a one page list of bullet points of ideas for things to say. She arrived with her special magic and made the whole evening sparkle with it. She started it off by telling a moving story of how we met and then proceeded guide the festivities with a poetic touch. My dear friend Suher Zaher volunteered to lead a debke dancing circle. Debke is a form of Palestinian line dancing, where people hold hands and dance side by side in a communal fashion. Most of the people attending the party stood up and participated. It lived up the whole party. And then there were all the people that came. At one point I looked across the room and felt dazzled by all the creative, beautiful and amazing people that were gathered in one room. I received so much support, warmth, congratulatory word, hugs and positive sentiments that I felt overwhelmed by it all.


I felt like I was being enveloped by love. I was swimming in an ocean of warmth.


Then came a moment of particular significance to me. The super MC announced that it was my birthday, held up her hand and counted the number of languages in the room. After a short tally, she counted 10 different languages. Then she suggested that everybody sings happy birthday in his/her own language at the same time. As I stood there hearing languages from all four corners of the world sung at the same time, creating a unique yet familiar harmony I was struck with an awe inspiring feeling. Here I am standing in room surrounded by people that I love. My past, present and future is intersecting in ways that I don’t understand yet, but it is blowing my mind. My life, in the past, has been divided into nationalities and migrations between continents. Today it all comes together in harmony. Today all is one. All is at ease.


At the end of the evening my friend Huda commented: “You have so many nice friends”. Then she exclaimed: “Do you know what is the secret of having nice friends? …. It‘s simply to be nice to people yourself”


Well I do hope that my friend is right. I do hope that I deserve this community of amazing people in my social circle. I do hope that I can be there for each and every one to cheer them on as they pursue their own dreams. Words can’t describe the level of gratitude that I am feeling right now.


The next morning I woke up with a single thought: “I want to memorize this moment and lock it away like a treasure”


I am wealthy in ways that money can’t buy.


Somebody at the party explained to me that the word serendipity originated from the Arabian Nights. As things in that book always magically work themselves out and the kingdom of Serendip is mentioned more than once as location for these happenings. Graffiti Hack was inspired by the idea of Arabian Nights, using the tool of stories within stories, it is fitting that serendipity has been showering on my head since its publication.


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