13 January, 2006

Greetings from Dimashq

OK, so till no photos. Deal with it. Kayf anakool b'larabeeya Compact Disk? I'll need to burn a disk and such. These days I've had my nose in a book of Arabic with my tutor, Samira.

Damascus is truly amazing. It's a bit like Mos Eisley, for you Star Wars buffs, you see a little of everything here. I haven't been exploring to broadly yet. For one thing, I can't read the signs on the microbuses fast enough yet. No, seriously. Sure there are taxis, but I can't bargain yet either. Of course it's not like I don't have time.

Today is the last day of Eid al-Adha, the feast marking the end of the traditional Hajj pilgrimage season. And what a sad end to Hajj this year with the deaths yesterday. Most things have been closed here for the four days.

Classes start on Sunday at the University. The week here runs from Sunday until Thursday, with the weekend being Friday and Saturday. Of course I usually have no idea what day it is anyway, so it doesn't matter. I desperately need a calendar.

My tutor also rents rooms in her apartment and currently has two students living with her. One girl is from Mauritainia and is studying medicine. The other, like me, is studying Arabic. She's from Spain and is, I guess, perhaps my mother's age? We all hit it off. My tutor, is quite the mother hen, but very kind. I may end up living with all them because my host family hasn't worked out well.

They aren't really a host family, so much as a family renting a room. I am having a fitful time with the husband, who demands I call him by the American name he went by for years while living in the US. I believe they lived there a bit too long, because they lack that famous "Arab hospitality" and their youngest is a bi-polar demon. I take greater issue with his constant harping about "filthy Arabs", "stupid Muslims", and racist comments about certain segments of American society. He seems not to hear me when I mention having a Muslim husband and family. I have yet to throw back at him the fact that by being born here he is Arab and was once Muslim. Anyway...So, I am demanding tomorrow that the agency take me to see other living arrangements.

But that's been the only hitch.It's an amazing place. Don't believe the hype. People here only hate Bush, but then who doesn't these days?
Just remember "Bush Khaib!" and you'll get all sorts of smiles like I got from the customs guys at the airport who then warmly welcomed me. It's not an angry hatred, more of "What did we do to deserve this?" Some people drank the Kool-Aid here and some didn't, so opinions are mixed behind closed doors concerning local politics. But, everybody here is united in not liking Bush, his cadre, and their policies. As for me (and I assume the rest of the foreigners) no worries.

More later.

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