Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Can't get you out of my head

Took another trip through central Syria with some of my classmates, all places I had been to two or three times, but I'm running out of things to see and this trip was financed by the school. I'd rather hang out with fun people and eat good food and sleep in nice hotels than travel another weekend budget style and end up looking like death on Sunday morning. We saw the more prominent cities of the dead, saw the sights in Aleppo, Hama, Homs, some castles, and a few random tell-style ruins like Ebla. I learned that there are over 3,000 prominent archaeological sites in Syria and less than 1000 have been even partially excavated over the last century. There is such a potential for tourism here it is incredible, but there is absolutely no current infrastructure. Dirt roads with no signs mark most of the major sites (enormous ruins that would be the main attraction in any other country), nobody speaks English or even knows where the site is to direct you, entrance fees are a dollar or so per person (if there is one), there are kids climbing all over the ruins breaking things and families eating picnics and throwing their trash all over, beduin scavengers digging in broad daylight looking for coins and other trinkets to sell to the few buses of European tourists that come through, etc. To the right are some of my colleagues at the Qasr al-Azem in Hama.

We have a funny list going around us students entitled "you know you're studying Arabic in Syria if", a few of the good ones are:

-You still have scars on your body from bedbugs and various other ailments suffered during your "homestay" in Bab Touma
-Even though a ton of Syrians got paid to hang out with you you still couldn't make any friends
-You're still waiting for your residency, 11 months later
-The theme songs of the year were: Acon's "Smack dat," George Michael's "Careless Whisper" and, of course, anything Fairuz.
-You've seen more of Syria than 95% of Syrians
-The veiled women wore tighter clothes and more make-up than you did
-The phrase in shah Allah now means "it ain't gonna happen"
-You've begun to attribute all physical ailments, no matter how unrelated to one another, to a mysterious phenomenon called "greeb."
-You've forgotten what it's like to talk to friends/family from home with even the slightest degree of privacy.
-50 percent of your daily activities are governed by whether or not you have appropriate change in Syrian lira.
-That being said: you will tell bald-faced lies to store owners and even friends, claiming that all you have is a 1000 lira note, in order to hang on to your small bills.
-You speak English with "dangling modifiers" ie. "The town which I traveled to it"
-You sweat in places you once thought impossible
-You feel like a slut wearing a short sleeve shirt
-You've smoked more (second-hand) than the Marlboro Man
-You go to Turkey and think its Amsterdam.
-Your internship teaches you to become an expert on tea and turkish coffee
-Fake eyebrows and leopard print start to look like normal fashion statements
-You don't need the menu's at restaurants any more, (there are the same 5 dishes in all 2000+ restaurants)
-You look over your shoulder before logging onto Facebook
-Your home stay family is still calling for money
-You've learned how to hack blocked websites.
-You have time to cook dinner and watch a boot-leg dvd in the time it takes to load one web-page.
-The sound of dial-up doesn't seem that strange any more.
-You have contracted strange uncommon diseases and rashes that were eradicated in the west decades ago
-Personal dress now includes pointy shoes
-you've acquired at least one disease that no doctor can diagnose
-the more popular you are, the more gel you have in your hair
-there is no such thing as a line or "I got here first"
-you got frostbite in your apartment
-Depending on the day, Syrians will either tell you that you speak better Arabic than they do or that you should really consider taking beginning classes
-"Wallahi ma b'arif" (I don't know) is the national motto
-Everything was first invented/discovered in Syria, including the pyramids and the Japanese language
-Correct English is now your second language


jwoincairo said...

just so you know trent you would look way hotter posing by "can't get you out of my head" if you had managed to mangle your toes into some pointy shoes and throw some gel back into that hair of yours....

David said...

"We saw the more prominent cities of the dead..."

Oh yawn, think I'll go see another city of the dead. Seriously dude, what about the less prominent ones?

Always a pleasure reading your posts my friend.