18 February, 2006

Bameeya by any other name

Well, I know this is what you're really interested in hearing...What do people eat in Syria?
Sure we have the obvious - shwarma, falafell, tabouli, foul.... All delicious.
But the thing I was bowled over by was.....
the OKRA!
Yes, all my relatives Down South, they have OKRA here! It's called bameeya and it's a whole lot smaller than the okra we're used to or that you find in Africa. Some of this is no bigger than your fingernail. But it is indeed the real deal. My host cooks it in a thin tomato sauce with bits of meat and serves it over this delicious rice with vermacelli. No idea if anybody here fries or pickles it. Rest assured, I will investigate.

I begin round two of Arabic tomorrow. It seems that most of my original class has left or will be getting instruction privately or at the government school. A few remain friends and that's what counts.

Been laid up sick as a dog the last few days with a bug. Actually was hoping for death when I got my first call from oomee (my mom) back home. Of course, what did she want to know?
"Did you beat Ottoman?"
She's promising to send me some goodies soon. After nearly three days stuck at home, getting out this afternoon felt especially sweet.

FIRDOS is offering me an internship and we are meeting this week to work out the details. Very excited about that, to say the least. Of course, I will get word out as soon as I can as to the details.

Teaching continues. Tomorrow is the first class post-"Shock and Awe". I think the kids who needed it got the message. I think I scared the beeJeezus out of a few of the one's that didn't need the message. And, at least they all learned a new word, "contract", since that's what we discussed and signed. But they all seemed fine when they left. I think....

Sad to see the riots continuing regarding the cartoons. I just finished a book on Rumi, the great Muslim thinker and poet. The book includes several passages from the Koran, since his poetry was often written as a guide to the teachings of that book. The key phrases that keep popping up are love, patience, moderation, kindness, justice, equanimity.... Though I found the cartoons offensive, I believe in a completely free press. The thing is, I come from a country with several hundred years of experience in such freedoms. Things are far too complex for me to go into tonight. But, a friend here noted, the day after the Damascus troubles, we have to keep those lack of freedoms in perspective when we look at these reactions. I am not condoning anything, so don't even start. I just hope to give some of you a bit pf perspective. Think of this, a few of us were uncomfortable talking about the situation in the halls of the University because the wall may very well "have ears". All is well here now, but this is just something that is on my mind these days.


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