Thursday, September 29, 2005

An evening with فرقة قوس قزح (Rainbow group)

A couple of days ago we got tickets for a vocal concert in Beit Jabri (بيت جبري) in Old Damascus. One of the members is an acquaintance and thus we knew about it and could get tickets. I wish there is something like ticketmaster or an information kiosk that makes available what kind of activities is happening. If you don’t know people from inside then chances are you may not know about them.
We, me and my bro, arrived at 7:30 awaiting the concert at 8 sharp. Ten minutes to 8 there was a power outage that lasted for about 40 minutes. People were tolerant and no one complained meanwhile. The group started instantly after the outage, at which time they were even ready to perform with no microphones and electricity.
The group for those who don’t know it, it directed by a Mr. Brimo بريمو and consists of four different tones of voice (alto, soprano, bass or something like that, and another one maybe baritone. I am not good at this). They select traditional and folklore songs and remix it then sing it in four voices. Songs they sang included tunes like: يا لور حبك, فوق النخل, طالعة من بيت أبوها, طلعت يا محلا نورها, and others.
There were two or three other interesting works that were kind of funny or interesting. In the first they tried to imitate drums with sounds (the famous دم تك), in the second they took the role of goods-sellers (باعة جوالين), and in the third they mixed some Christian and Islamic tunes together.
Overall I enjoyed it, few songs were probably ill chosen but the rest were well done. My only disappointment was with the solo soprano voices that sang songs. I thought they could be better sharpened. Compared to the musical I watched a couple of weeks ago (and slaughtered in my criticism) this is much better, and would get 8/10 at least. There will be one at Christmas time, so I will be looking forward to that.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

كمان أخبار الشباب

وعدت أن أكمل أخبار من صادفت من أيام الدراسة في الجامعة، وهم ليسوا كثراً.
البارحة سهرت مع الدكتور سهيل عجي في بيته بحضور أخي. وكما لا يعرف البعض فقد تطوع في الشرطة وأكمل اختصاصه في الأمراض الجلدية (والزهرية). وحالياً عنده دوام في المرجة صباحاً (لا يروح الفكر لبعيد) وفي عيادته بجرمانا مساءً. طبعاً أنا ضعت مليون ضياعة لما حاولت روح على عيادته مع أنو الطريق كان سهل. بتذكر قال اطلع على طريق المطار وخود يمين على الجسر. أنا ما كذبت خبر وكل ما شفت يمين أخدته. ولبين ما وصلت على الساحة ولقيت العيادة كنت مريت على سيدي مقداد، بيت سحم، المليحة، والست زينب ويمكن شي ضيعتين هون وهونيك بدون اسم.
سهيل لم يتغير فيه شيئاً. أقل شعراً وأكثر شيباً، يعني متلي. ضحكته المشهورة لا تزال هي نفسها. كالعادة تذكرنا الجميع وتحادثنا أخبارهم. ويبدو أنه لا أحد ضل على اتصال مع الآخرين بعد أن تابعوا اختصاصاتهم، وانا متل الأجدب لاحقهم منشان أرجع شوفهم.
أعتقد أنه كمان حابب يطلع على فرنسا (أو حتى جيبوتي إذا صارت له).
ومبدئياً فتصنيف شباب الطب حسب ما لاحظت هو التالي:
1- من غادر إلى امريكا (طبعا من دون رجعة، ما عداي)
2- من غادر إلى فرنسا (ومصيرهم غالباً الرجوع)
3- من لم يغادر إلى أيهما بعد، فهو يريد أو سيغادر إلى فرنسا (معقل الأطباء السوريين الثاني على ما يبدو). مثل البهنا والعجي وفادي كاترين الذي صادفته اليوم دون موعد (خلص هضمية)4- أظن منهم من بقي هنا ولم بكلف نفسه عناء السفر مثل جميلة سليمان التي تدير عيادة في دولة صافيتا المستقلة.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


I was away for three days or so in Jordan. It was my first time in this country. I haven't seen much of it, but here is an account of what I saw.
The first thing that strikes you is the sudden change in landscape as you cross the borders. There is barely a tree or any green on the way to Amman, not surprisingly as Jordan is more like a desert, for the most part, and has no sea access up north (besides the Dead Sea). The second thing is the huge care taken to make the roads as best as possible. I would say from the Arab countries I have been to (Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan) the last has the best roads, traffic signs, even drivers to some extent follow the rules. I hear police there are just below God (تحت الله بشوي), and they have great authority. And they are unbribable (unlike here). Despite that Jordanians are known apparently for speeding giving the country the highest rate of traffic accidents death in the Arab world.
In Amman, most buildings are covered with white stones. There are many villas in some areas that are ridiculously expensive, and some are a pure piece of art. My cousin commented before that Amman has a higher per capita rate of BMW and Mercedes than Beirut, but I think I disagree. Or maybe this is because I were there during the weekend, so not much cars on the streets.
The bad thing about Amman is that you barely see any green, or gardens. An overlook of the city from the "Le Royal" hotel shows blocks of endless whitish buildings and nothing more.
One good thing about it too, is the number of good restaurants in the city (and coffee shops). I twice had my favorite "Fillet au poivre" cooked to perfection (medium rare) and was satisfied. Finally, somewhere that knows how the meat is cooked.
One night we were taken to the Dead Sea. At night it can't be seen at all. It is like a black hole. Across the Sea is West Bank, clearly visible. The best I could do was to get to the shore and dip my hand in it. Never taste the Dead Sea water, it is extremely salty and bitter too, and it feels to the hand like greasy water. I was told that swimming there is an adventure in itself. Floating is a no-brainer for anyone, because sinking (for humans at least) is physically impossible. It is trying to swim normally that is a problem. And never get any drip of its water in your eyes, or you will ache like hell for I don't know how long.
I wish there was time to see Petra and Jarash. I hope I could go soon and visit these two places and the Sea at daytime.
I am sure my cousin would be able to comment and add to what I wrote, if he is still following.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

الكلاب تعوي ............والقافلة تسير

هل يتذكر أيا منكم صاحب هذه العبارة الشهيرة؟ طوني، أدونيس، ماهر..... عجزتم؟
جورج بهنا، اسم تناسيتموه، ربما، لكن حتماً لم تنسوه. زميل الجامعة والدراسة. اجتمعت معه اليوم، وهو من القلة القليله التي لا تزال في هذا البلد بعد أن تناثرت أشلاؤنا في أصقاع الولايات الامريكية وأوروبا أو الخليج.
كان وخطيبته (في الصورة)، إذ بعد قرابة الشهرين استطعنا أن نجتمع في مكان واحد. استعدنا كثيراً من الذكريات:
مشاكساتنا في التدريب العسكري (وكاريكاتورات دفاتره)
بابا الفاتيكان (الله يرحم عظامه)
دير اللاتين ودمشق القديمة
الشباب وأخبارهم (بدءاً بالحبل السري وانتهاءً بمن لا حبل له)
تربيت الأيدي، هز القدمين ونكش الغرة
وبعضها لم نتطرق إليه مثل:
يا ماما بدي أرسب، ماني عامل منيح بالفحص

على كل، أنا قمت بمعظم الحديث عن أخبار الشباب لأنه ما عاد في شباب هون غيره زائد سهيل عجي. أما الباقي فأخبارهم عندي كانت.
جورج خطب، عقبال العايز، وكمان بدو يخطبني منشان نطلع "couple". انتهى من اختصاص النسائية (وهلق لاحق الولاد). وسوف، ان شاء الله، يذهب الى عند شيراك. بعد ما كان قدي مرتين، صار هلق 3 مرات.
انتهت أخبار الساعة، ونأتيكم لاحقاً بأخبار العجي.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


In this visit it is astonishing to see the jump in mobile usage this country took. I have not met anyone who doesn't have one, at least. Despite the expenses of the apparatus, and calling bills, everyone seems to be able to afford it. Whether it is the last Nokia model, or the neatest accessory, all is available in a way I haven't seen in USA. It wasn't like that when it started 5 years ago when the fee for a new number was 60,000 SP ($1,200).
Few of what I noticed is the following:
1. Use of cellphones while driving is prohibited, yet everyone does it. Barely any one uses a headset or a Bluetooth headphone. The one person who used a headset, and was wearing a seatbelt too, was a taxi driver I rode with, but he almost got us into an accident because he kept talking and looking at me at the same time ignoring all what is around him.
2. The 4-seconds rule: this is how some people afford to pay bills. Apparently the companies (the only two available) generously made the first 4 seconds free of charge. If you are a fast talker, 4 seconds can say a lot especially if you already know what you want to say. Some conduct full conversations using the 4 seconds. And in one instance witnessed by my aunt, a certain person kept calling and hanging every 4 sec all the way from Safita to Damascus on one of the buses. Figure something like 3 hours. This is ridiculous.
3. Bluetooth: I have to admit that I was naive. Before coming here the only use of Bluetooth I knew of in mobiles are to connect a laptop to the internet, and to use a wireless headset. I didn't know about video/audio/picture swapping. I didn't know about "blind dating" through Bluetooth (two people literally chatting, if they are in a close vicinity, without knowing each other), and so forth.
4. SMS: has become a very common method of saying all kind of nonsense messages. And let's not forget jokes. Every now and then, some one would look at his mobile, smile or laugh, then definitely forward this to others. This happens on all social and scientific levels without exception.
5. Billing: one has to understand that incoming calls or messages are free, but outgoing are not.
6. Voicemail: if you ask anyone here about it they will probably say, what is that? There is no one who activates such service. Why? Not exactly sure, but has to do probably with billing!!! Like anywhere else there is a billing for the time used to place the message, and the time to listen to it. So what happens is if you call someone and no one answers?? No one will answer, and you are probably expected to return the call, whether you wanted it or not, whether you knew who was calling or not.
7. Freedom: because you have a cellphone, you are expected to be available all the time, or most of it at least. And if you don't answer naughty thoughts start to cook. Where has adventuring and privacy of old disappeared. No one had a mobile, yet everyone lived, and did what he had to do. And what's more, no one had to be within reach, tell where s/he is and so forth.
8. Professionalism: it is expected that the use of cellphones is for urgent needs, and then anything else. But now that can't be done, because everyone is identified with a cellphone number (it like a social security number now) and thus if you meet someone you will get his cellphone number. If you want to call him you have to use your cellphone because it is cheaper. Anyway, about professionalism, people at work should not be using there mobiles, nor the police officer on the street who frequently ignores traffic and checks whether someone sent him a message or something.
9. I suggested instead of sending telegrams in the event of inability to attend a wedding, to send an SMS (LOL). So instead of برقياً – خوري/حنا  there would be SMS -093 555555
10. Contract: cellphone contract are eternal. They do not expire, they can be transferred with great difficulties (I heard), and you are stuck with it.

With all this, I have to tell this story, ask Wael Youseff about it, about the prices of cellphones. One day before he leave to USA, we stopped by a cellphone shop in Kassa' قصاع. He asked about some models that would work in USA and the price. The vendor said that it is cheaper than USA. We don't know exactly for sure, but we told him that we got our cellphones for free when we signed up, I will say it again FREE (mine is a Nokia 6610 and his a Sony Ericsson but the model escapes me). His argument was that you can't take a SIM card form one company and put it in a cellphone from another) so you would have to buy a cellphone. He is partially right because you can't do that. But we told him that what we can do is better: annul the contract, get a new phone (for free or a small sum of money) and keep the same number. He was still convinced it is cheaper here. And we were convinced he is a moron.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Syrian Game Shows

أعتقد أنه يجب كتابة هذا الموضوع بالعربية مثل بعض ما سبق. المهم أن التلفزيون الرسمي السوري قرر على ما يبدو أن يطلق مسابقة فكرية على نمط الأسئلة متعددة الاحتمالات على شكل لعبة متاهة يتم فيها الانتقال من باب الى آخر مع كل إجابة صحيحة ويتم ربح مبلغ معين مع كل مرحلة.أظن أن اسم البرنامج "رقم حظ" أو ما شابه وهو يعرض على الفضائية السورية لمن عنده قرص استقبال أرضي (ووقت يضيعه على هيك سخافات). على ما يبدو أن الهدف من ذلك هو المضاربة على برامج المسابقات العربية الأخرى (وخاصة اللبناينة) التي تستقطب اهتمام الشعب العربي.
من أمثلة المضاربة هو استخدام فتاة رشيقة القوام ودلوعة تقريباً على الطريقة الفينيقية لتقديم البرنامج. طبعاً غني عن الذكر أن الديكور الخارجي (يعني الملابس والمكياج) مصيره كان الولادة وورقة نعوته معلقة معه. يعني الله يرحمو شو مبهدل. وفضلاً عن ذلك لم يستطع التلفزيون بكامل جلالة قدره أن يؤمن سماعة أذن تستطيع البقاء عليها لمدة دقيقتين دون أن تقع. الديكور الداخلي، يبدو أن أساسه جيد بس الديكور الخارجي صرعه بالضربة القاضية.
يوجد شاشة كبيرة خلف مقدمة البرنامج (مقدمة البرنامج كلمة واحدة) وفيها الدهليز أو المتاهة. وهي عبارة عن تصميم من مستوى الصف الأول الابتدائي لا بد أنه قد صمم على Commodore 64 أو نموذج أقدم من الحاسبات. وهو يدار من قبل فني كومبيوتر على ما يبدو حيث كل حين وآخر يظهر مؤشر الماوس وإعدادات البرنامج المستخدم. الأسئلة مكتوبة بحبر على ورق، يعني لا كمبيوتر، لا شاشة، الاسئلة ما بتتطلع عالتلفزيون. وبدكون تنتبهوا بما أنو عم تتدلع وتتغنج، نص الأسئلة ما عم تنفهم.
أما عن طريقة تقديم البرنامج، فيبدو أن البارحة كانت أول حلقة. ويبدو أن فكرة وتنفيذ وتصميم البرنامج قد تم في ساعة واحدة (من قفا أيدهن يعني)، دون الاعتناء بجمالية التصميم أو حتى التدرب على الإلقاء. وكل ما يتصل شخص ويخطئ في الإجابة تتدلع المقدمة ومقدمتها وتنتفض وتقول: "لك ليش هيك؟؟؟"
كنت أتمنى على أحدهم أن يجيب بالعبارة المشهورة: "منشان قطيش، ليقطشلك أدنيكي ويقلك ليش!!!"
على كل، أنا كانت واصلة معي لهون وأكتر، ولكن الشعرة التي قصمت ظهر البعير كانت ما يلي:
المسابقة الآن هي على نمط الطابة والثلات كاسات (يستخدمها الكثير من الدجالين على ناصيات الشوارع كنوع من المقامرة). المختلف في الموضوع أنه تم الاستعاضة عن الكاسات بطرابيش مرقمة 1 و 2 و3. والحزيرة هي تحت أي طربوش تقع الطابة؟؟؟؟ يعني المسألة تشليف، يا بتصيب يا بتخيب.
المتصل الأول: مرحبا
المقدمة: أهلين ممكن اسمك الثلاثي إذا بتريد (صار في عنا middle name)
م 1: فلان فلان الفلاني
المقدمة: يا ترى تحت أي طربوش الطابة؟
م 1: طربوش واحد
المقدمة: (ترفع الطربوش) لأ، انشالله حظ أوفر
وهنا تقوم المقدمة بتغيير ترتيب الطرابيش. فقط تغيير الترتيب، انتبهوا.
المتصل الثاني: (بعد الترحيب والتأهيل) فلان فلان الفلاني
المقدمة: ممكن تحزر تحت أي طربوش الطابة؟
م 2: الطربوش رقم اثنين
المقدمة: (بعد رفع الطربوش رقم 2) له، ما ظبطت معك هالمرة. ممكن ناخد اتصال ثالث (وتغير ترتيب الطرابيش، لا يوجد أي خدعة بالموضوع)
المتصل الثالث: فلان.........
المقدمة: يا ترى بتعرف تحت أي طربوش الطابة؟
م 3: الثالث
المقدمة ترفع الطربوش ونرى الطابة وتقول: برافو عليك كيف حزرت!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
برافو عليك؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
بفتكر الموضوع ما عاد بدو شرح أكتر من هيك. انشالله يجو الامريكان ويحتلونا بقى.

A Musical

I was invited today to attend the premiere of a musical made by Ziryab Orchestra. The musical was called "The Final Tale: of Sharayar's nights year 2057". They have awebsite which I haven't checked out yet.
Although the show was disappointing to me, and I will detail that, my excitement was due to visiting the National Theatre المسرح القومي for the first time (apparently now called "Dar Al Assad for Culture & Arts دار الأسد للثقافة والفنون", similar to everything else). The building is nice from the outside and the inside, I didn't have much time to look around, but it seems there is more than one hall or theatre. The architecture, as one may predict, is a mix between some modern and Islamic designs.
The musical, I gave it 4.5/10, at most:
1. Acting: was a little above high school level, maybe.
2. Singing: there are some good voices, but I felt that most is recorded and they were lip-syncing. I hope I was wrong.
3. Costumes: horrible, there was a remarkably fat actor who wore tight clothes and a disgusting tight shirt too. Dancers were wearing bright and contradicting colors. Only the heroine had some good taste. I don't think there was a costume designer, because if there were any he should be hanging from a rope attached to the ceiling.
4. Decoration: bad taste, some designer was trying to be inventive (a modern art sculptor for sure). All decorations were made with colored glass that made no sense (i.e. nonsense).
5. Music: was probably the only good part of the whole thing. 7/10.
6. Lyrics and story: too boring and redundant. Occasionally words feel as if they were forced into a song
7. Choreography: okay, generally speaking. But there was a guy dancer (I think they are all from the ballet school) who seemed not to be in sync with others, and he doesn't dance well too. I think he is the son of somebody مدعوم and was imposed on the director.
8. Directing: oh, and by the way, there was no mention to any director in the brochure, unless they call him something else here. So it is probable that the group is trying to break new grounds in self-directing. It sucks anyway.

From now on, I will stick to English musicals. At least there is something of entertainment in it. Alas!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Memories 1

I was browsing some old photos and came across these from 1997. This is the first time I met Wael (the one in Cleveland). I was on a trip with a bunch of my brother friends visiting some places, when we ended up in Kafroon and met Wael.
شوف ياعمي، هي أيام عزّك القديم

Lama Rufael, Me, Mary Rufael, Ibrahim Khouri, Maya Khouri, and needless to mention Wael Youceff. (from left to right)

Mary, Me, Wael, Lama, half of Maya, and Ibrahim.

Faten Dahdouh, Mary, Wael, Maya, and Lama.

Announcement 3

Ok, here is how I envisage things as far as posting your blogs or news.
If you take a look to the right, you will see under "Links" two things. One is "Google news", the second is "Syria looks", and the third is "Edit me".
If you give the address on which you are going to be publishing, I will added there, so people reading this one can readily, including me, go to your website with a click.
The Syria Looks blog is one I found and had some nice pictures about Syria. The guy I think is Armenian but don't know his name.
Maher and Maya, email me your addresses. You just have to log in to and start creating posts using the name and password you use to comment here.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Dancing Future

This is the future of dancing as outlined in Nab' Al-Sheer (نبع الشير) in Kafroon/Mashta.
"Sorry! Dancing for families only"!!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Conference/Al-Mashta... Again

There was another conference in Mashta Al-Helou last Thursday evening. In fact it was more like a series of three short lectures. Because this was local, with no border crossing we drove, or I drove my parents, there. Had lunch first with some relatives and then went to the Resort. I had no intention in attending the lectures, and went after some personal errands. I took a quick shower, which was disappointing. I complained to my mom that the body lotion they had does not make any soap foam. She drove my attention that LOTIONS are not for bathing, and furthermore, do not make foam… How was I supposed to know? There were two sets of small bottles, one was a shampoo, the other one had “body lotion بدي لوشن” written on it. Through my limited but reasonable experience with hotels (even cheap ones) there is usually a shampoo, a conditioner, and a body wash or soap. I assumed that this was the soap because body wash liquids here takes many names that don’t make sense to me such as “cream moisturizer” or “body cream”. Even if they were creams, at least they make foam.
I visited Wael’s parents and later in the evening I met with his sister, his brother’s in-laws, and some friends in عالبال as usual. I had my usual: a cup of tea and a hookah. After that, I left back to the hotel’s restaurant around midnight where my parents, and a huge bunch of oncologists (whom I already know more than half by now) were having fun after dinner (which I forgot to have as usual, and thanks goodness mom didn’t know). I was recruited instantly to dance and then did some Dabkeh وطبعاً بيّضنا الوش.
I would say to that “Life Sweet Life”, not so bad at all.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Slow Days

This is the 50th entry in this blog. Almost one for everyday since leaving the States. Anyway, things has been slow recently. Not much interesting things going on these days. After a while things become dull, somewhat. Especially when almost doing nothing. This is about to change for a couple of reasons. First, Phil finally (and I thank him for the effort) finished processing some papers for me in USA. It almost took him a month and a half. This is worst than any thing I could imagine. Our embassy is going nuts. And secondly, there doesn't seem to be an escape from the military service yet, meaning starting November I will be clean shaved again (and I mean my head), and maybe lose some of the pounds I gainded here.
I will also be away for few days, so maybe no updates for a while.
In other news, same old same old.
I finished watching a documentary (15 episodes) on the Lebanese war. In summary Arabs are bastards, and probably deserve what is happening to them (Syrian, Lebanese and all). It almost made me throw up.
Today is the Cross Day (عيد الصليب), I didn't celebrate.
By the way, I found some really interesting ummmm.... womens wear on display. I will attempt taking pictures of them. I guess some of you will find them funny and... well interesting.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I rethinked my offer about sharing stories and things on this blog.
As those of you commenting already have registered. They can publish their stories on their blog (that they created in the process), and I will place a link to the site under Links on the top right hand side of the blog.

Auto Trend

I promised a month ago to post pictures of cars. Eventually I figured I only have to post one. Basically half the city cars look like this now, and sometimes smaller. I am not sure what make and model is this. But it is either Chery Solar, or Daewoo Matiz. They look like toys and I think I can lift it alone if I wanted

Monday, September 12, 2005


I am going to announce opening the door to those wanting to publish something on this blog beside comments.
Those interested please let me know so I can add you.
Rules for writing:
1- English or Arabic only
2- Topics better have some personal touch (thoughts, events, blablabla...) that might be of interest
3- I retain the sole right to delete and/or edit any entry.

Social Activities

No interesting events happening nowadays. There is a story of my dad trying to get a new passport that is mind boggling, but I can't write that myself.
I met with Shaza and Lama at lunch yesterday and had a very nice time. We went to Gemini, a nice restaurant of their choice (because I don't know anything here). It's been a while since I saw them (last year), and also this debuted my first social interaction in Damascus since I came (I am not considering going out with my dad's or family friends social interacting, that is generation change).
Later had a couple of social visits too. Came back late and had some intersting internet work done.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Syrian Pimp (or so I thought)

Today I was walking on Murshed Khater Street after paying my cellphone bill. All of a sudden a gentleman, in fact he didn't look like one so… a man came out of a building entrance. He had a bad eye, and was very dark from the sun. I think he is at least 65 years old. So he stopped me and asked permission to talk to me for a second in the shades.
He started:
"I am from Zabadani (a city) of Al-Sheik family, and you look like someone I know. What is you last name?"
Here I thought to myself, not again, now he will tell that he has no money to travel and just had some bad occurrence that happened and wanted some money for the road, which I wasn't going to give him anyway.
"Khouri", I said (which isn't a lie, technically speaking)
"From Al-Kassaa, right"
I nodded vaguely awaiting him to finish
"What do you do?"
"And why do you ask?"
Again he says "you look like someone I know, and I would like to invite you to my house and have some good time نقعد قعدة حلوة"
Here I said no thanks and continued.
I didn't know whether he wanted to get me in and drug me, or introduce me to his mistresses (which I thought more likely). Any thoughts?

Academic Work

I was invited by a neurologist friend of ours to lecture in a Neuroscience conference in Damascus. Of course I thought the opportunity a very good public display, and would keep me in touch with academic work and medicine.
The lecture took place at the Assad University Hospital two days ago. But before that, I also got my first REAL palliative medicine consult as a home visit.
I had a hard time dealing with the patient. I think Middle Eastern patients like to be good patients in front of their doctors. Nothing is important and all is trivial. It is after family intervention and detailed questioning that I was able to get an idea of what is going on. Needless to say, the patient plays the doctor too, especially if s/he has a medical background. So if you ask whether a leg is hurting, you hear theories about why and how the Uric Acid is doing all that, and most importantly that it isn't hurting.
That is one thing I didn't understand yet, why does every single lab work (including CBC, Chem profile and others) contain a sed rate and a uric acid level. Everyone is so obsessed with uric acid to the point I believe half the population is on allopurinol.
Back to the lecture; I was supposed to start at 6:15. But after the usual delays, and everyone taking more than the allotted time, I started at 6:50 and what's more… I was told to rush and stick to time!!!! Where is the fairness in that?
Anyway, I think I did well. The lecture was about "principles of cancer pain management". Although is felt like basic information to me, but I think it contained lots of new information. I would like to do more lectures in the future.
I don't what the feedback was! Some who saw me afterwards with the inviting friend thanked me for the lecture, and one said that I speak English very well (and how is that going to help me? This wasn't a lecture in reciting or reading).
Wael has with his the conference brochure as a factual evidence of this. Too bad I didn't see anyone I know in the auditorium, but that was ok.

Friday, September 09, 2005

أغلى تخجيلة في سوريا

Who can imagine Hollywood in Syria? Here is the account of the latest stunt performed by our great drivers.
Picture us sitting in the balcony at our home, Wael was still here and getting prepared to sleep as we had to wake up at 4 AM to go to the airport. While eating a squeaking sound arose and a crash. We realized instantly that an accident took place, or almost did. Curiosity killed me and I went out to see what happened. My dad first reaction was 'thank goodness my car is on the other side'. I didn't hear this part, but the accident was on the other side. I was there standing in my boxer (a very short one) and watching tons of people gathering around the site. A moment afterwards my parents and Wael rushed up. Someone told them that our car is involved, and it was.
And this is how it happened, have a look at the diagram.

A Buick was being driven by a woman (facts learned later). It seems that she doesn't know how to drive and probably instead of stepping on the brake pedal, she stepped on the fuel giving the car a sudden surge. If you follow the orange line, the car ran over the pavement, through the bus stop smashing all the glass, nicking slightly the rear car and then our cars right rear end spinning it 90 degrees by doing that (the green dotted line) and damaging the whole rear.
There wasn't anyone in Ghassani probably who hasn't come to witness the accident, there were some 150 people just going and coming and watching and giving all kind of advice.
The (orange) car owner said that he gave it to his wife or so تخجيلة despite the fact she doesn't know how to drive well. And thus أغلى تخجيلة في سوريا. She was rushed out of the car and made to disappear. But things aren't that easy with many people around even at a late hour. A neighbor of us, a news commentator who works for the TV and is an NBC reporter, saw the whole thing and made a big fuss of the fact that the police report was being made false (as far as how the accident happened and the presence of the woman). Eventually he shouted at the police and started taking pictures and finally got the TV camera and the reporters. The seen was hilarious, sadly.
Of course we called Yihya (our car body shop owner) who came at once. Where can you find such service in the USA? On call service for auto body work!!!
Police reports were issued and cars were towed. I am to be car-less for now, but who cares. The offending car owners started a campaign to absorb the issues (استيعاب أو احتواء الأمر) and started chasing everyone giving reports to TV (maybe to bribe them or so) and also trying to make arrangements with us and others maybe, so things don't go to court. We stayed there for 2 hours, after which we had to go and sleep as we had to wake up at an early hour to go to the airport. Included are pictures of the damages too.

Conclusion: (there always has to be one now) don't give your car to a woman even if she offered to…… well, just don't give it. No offense, LOL.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Wedding

It was on a Sunday. The weather has been very bad for a couple of days prior to that. Bad means lots of winds, clouds, and occasional rain. Luckily enough the weather was close to perfect as the time for the wedding approached. I went briefly to Safita to get my new suit for the occasion. I think I was pretty, sorry… handsome (LOL).
Before the wedding started, a number of cars in single file went around the Kafroun and Al-Mashta prior to picking up the bride from her home. There were tons of people at her place in addition to a folklore wedding group فرقة عراضة شعبية dancing with swords and armour. Traditional songs were also played, no singing.
Getting up to the mountain, where the wedding took place, was a bit difficult. The road is narrow, and already there were many people already there and the place was full of cars. I almost screwed the transmission system in the process of parking (stick shift driving).
There were lots of people there, probably more than 2,000. All well dressed and lots of young people too. Always a pleasure to see that there are still some who are close to my age around (LOL, as if I am a hundred year old). The mountain has an old Roman (I think) church, but the ceremony took place at a mock altar that was built for the occasion outside that one, due to the number attending.
I liked the wedding, I felt it was short (compared to ours), without much gap filling with verses and reading that make no difference or sense at all. Despite that, Wael said it was long!!! But anyway I said my famous phrase, that I will marry a Maronite and wed at her church.
أزعجني شيء واحد وهو الاغتيال شبه المتعمد للمفعول به، من قبل رجال الدين، الذي رُفِع في أكثر من مرة، خاصة عندما يقولون أحبوا نساؤُكم بدلاً من نساءَكم.
After congratulating the newlyweds and their families, me and two new friends went and ate shawarma at a place called Al-Majd Cafeteria. A highly recommended place for a shawarma meal.
Afterwards we arrived at Al-Shurfeh were the cocktail party was. Again, lots of drinks. I met many new people, and danced almost all night. It was one of the best party I attended. The D.J was very good, and everyone who didn’t come missed a lot. There were some old acquaintances that I knew, or new my brother there. I didn’t take any pictures, unfortunately, so this will be a personal memory.

Things that can happen at a wedding (remarks from me and Wael):
1. A woman who has single girls, gave all her attention to the best man and almost ignored the newlyweds
2. I was introduced to a woman who knows my aunt for no more than a minute, in which I said hi, and got introduced to her two daughters. I hear later through my aunt that I am very nice, speak well, was surrounded by girls all the time and so forth… I am not sure how did she gather all that from one minute or how she said all that about me, but can any one guess (LOL)???

Anyway, the conclusion is that weddings are too bothersome, except for the party part. So my advice to all is marry “khteefeh خطيفة”, but have a party afterwards.


It has been a while since I updated the blog, for reasons that has to do with access and time. Anyway, most of this time was spent in Mashta Al-Hilu, a village located 12 miles east of Safita. That day we were already there, invited by my brother’s in-laws. I returned with my dad to Damascus in order to meet Wael as he arrives. The poor guy took four taxis to get to my place, then with me to Al-Mashta. We drove at night as soon as he arrived, but didn’t feel the time driving there. The problem is after we took the exit off the highway, the street were unmarked, and drivers always have their strong front light on despite all the signals I gave them. Many curses and horns were sworn and honked (respectively), many of these definitely reached God. If all my wishes came true, Syria would have been less 1,000 assholes.
At some point, fog started to take over and it was almost touchable. I had to drive real slowly in order not to run over a cliff or something. What is worse that I would be driving and then all of a sudden a curve shows up, without warning or signs. Never again at night I will drive there.
We arrived directly to the party before the wedding. I forgot to mention that I went there for a wedding, and I was driving the best man (I had to look up this word in the dictionary; I fear my English is deteriorating). The party was already on and people were dancing and eating. I didn’t know anyone then except for the groom, Wael, and his mother. Later, most youngsters went to the mountain (Jar Al-Qamar جار القمر) and spent the whole night (literally, and a bit more) drinking and smoking and chatting. This pretty much is the theme for the next four or five days I spent there.
We would sleep at 5-6 AM and wake up closer to lunch time. The evening is spent at 3albal عالبال were we would smoke hookah and drink tea or something. Then at night we go to Jar Al-Qamar and do the same. Pretty much all the bad habits that could be done were performed, except gambling and adultery (LOL). In fact, I had a good time, met lots of people, and forgot about all what could be bothering me. But with that I will need a couple of weeks to purify myself from smoke, alcohol, and such.
It felt for a while that people there have nothing better to do except going out and staying up all night. I wondered whether anyone had to work next day, at least of those my age.
At night there is a “kazdoura” that takes place along the main street. Different from Safita’s, this one contains all age groups (not only 14-20).
I think from now on, if I go to Safita I should go occasionally to Al-Mashta to spend an evening or so.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


Do not open any link from a comment you see onthis blog.
I don't know who wrote them or what they contain as they were blocked from syria. My guess it is porn and other ads.
I will change the way you all have to comment