Saturday, December 31, 2005

Xmas Home

This is the first Christmas in 7 years I spend with family here. It has been a long time since then, and definitely I have, as others have, grown. I don't know whether we have outgrown the occasion or not. I still consider it a Day for kids, but so what, I am only a big one. But still, it loses some of its shininess and spirit as most of my relatives, if not all, have grown big. The last big gathering was last year I guess, when my granny was still alive. Now mourning the occasion without her replaced it, at least in some households.
But as life goes on we had more than one reason to have a nice celebration. The same food being made over and over again is prepared. With huge crowds around the dining table, or "lunching" table, on the day before and after Xmas.
Finding the Christmas gifts for parents did not carry with it the same excitement and anticipation. But we did it after all with success I may add. The most important thing is that we were all together: Dad, Mom, Me, and my Bro who came from abroad and his fiancée (who always get threatened by me that I will write something criticizing about her in my blog).
Visiting all the relatives seems like a must more than a pleasant occasion. Well I always see them but the fact this is more formal makes it different. I used to spend the whole day of Christmas and after going from one house to another to visit my friends (who are all now in US while they left me come back, LOL).
It is the occasion that lost some of its uniqueness or me who lost the occasion, or is it both?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Xmas in Safita

This is my second installment for Christmas in Safita. Which I am very proud of too.
Merry christmas to all, and happy new year too.
Miss you all and wish you were here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Xmas Times

Christmas is coming soon. That mean lots of things to do and getting busy... Shopping (which I didn't do yet), sending cards (Which again I didn't do yet, and most likely send e-cards), cooking (which I never do), and decorating. The latter I took part in, in fact almost the whole thing I did with some help of my bro, and mom who decorates the tree.
I take pleasure every year in designing the nativity (or المغارة) and usually use lots of paper for that. To the left is this years tree and nativity in Damscus, I promise to publish the one in Safita soon.
Also coming, pictures of decorations in Damascus at christmas time.
Xmas time is not always very calm and peaceful. The band in the church next door to my clinic keep practicing trumpets and drums in preparation for Xmas, and this drives me nut as they play as if they were inside the clinic. That is the only reason I will wish the occasion goes by fast. Anyway I will be off for 5-6 days (too much work, you know). Then will be back.
Merry Xmas to everyone (and God bless us all, says little Tim).

Sunday, December 18, 2005


In a follow-up to what I wrote before in "Small Profits" I found this article today in Al-Thawra nwespaper about التسول. I thought it is interesting.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

نعوة عامة

غريبة هي الهوايات أو الروتينات التي نقوم بها هنا. قبل ذهابي كنا نتربص بأوراق النعوات الجديدة كل يوم. من توفي حديثاً، من توفي منذ أربعين يوماً، أو من توفي منذ سنة. شيئاً فشيئاً عاد هذا الروتين ينتاب يومي. كل ما مررت جانب واحدة منها أقوم بسبر الأسماء علني أميز أحدها. وأستطيع القول إنني لم "أوفق" حتى الآن.
كثير من الأطباء يفعلون ذلك، والسبب: غالباً ما يكون هذا الكيفية التي يعرفون بها بوفاة أحد مرضاهم، خاصة أولئك الذين يتعاملون مع مرضى حالتهم العامة خطيرة.
لم يلفت نظري أبداً ما يكتب في ورقة النعوة حتى وقت قريب. لكل نعوة "قوام" أو "صيغة" عامة تختلف بعض الشيء إذا كانت لشخص مسيحي أو مسلم.
تبتدئ النعوة الاسلامية بـِ "إلى رحمته تعالى" أما المسيحية فبـِ "دعوة عامة، من آمن بي وإن مات فسيحيا" وفي بعضها "أنا هو الحق والطريق والقيامة" أو شيء من هذا القبيل.
بعد ذلك يتم سرد اسم كل قريب في الوطن والمهجر وعائلاتهم وذويهم وأقربائهم، والملاحظ أن أسماء الإناث لا تنزل في النعوة الاسلامية، ولا أدري ما السبب ولا يمكنني التفكير بواحد. إلا إذا لم يكن مسموحاً للنساء أن تنعي!!!
بعد سرد أسماء ذوي القربي هناك نوعان من النعي متناقضان أشد التناقض، على الأقل كما أراهما. فعند المسلمين قد تقرأ "ينعون إليكم بمزيد من الرضا والتسليم" أو "بمزيد من الأسى واللوعة". أما عند المسيحيين فقد تقرأ "ينعون إليكم على رجاء القيامة والحياة الأبدية" أو "بمزيد من الأسى واللوعة" أيضاً. فرق شاسع بين الخيار الأول الذي فيه رضى أو أمل أو بالمختصر مواقف إيجابية، وبين الثاني الذي فيه فجوع وحزن أي موقف أكثر سلبية (دون أن أقول أن الحزم شعور سلبي).
ثم يتم الاعلان عن اسم الفقيد وأين ومتى ستتم المراسيم..
يعترض البعض على جملة "من آمن بي وإن مات فسيحيا" وهي، لمن لا يعرف، إحدى أقوال المسيح. فماذا لو أن المتوفى لم يكن عظيم الإيمان مثلاً. ألا يشكل ذلك نوعاً من الـ irony؟؟ وهل هذا يعني أن من لم يؤمن به لن يلاقي حياة أبدية؟؟
فكرت كيف أحب أن تكون نعوتي (وأعرف أن البعض سيتهمني أنني "عم فاول على حالي"). وأظنها ستكون كمايلي:

دعوة خاصة
زوجة الراحل: ..........
أولاد الراحل: ...........
أخ الراحل: ..........
ينعون إليكم انتهاء المهمات الأرضية لـِ ....... اسمي ........
التاريخ والمكان
برقياً: ........... أو sms: 095555555
يرجى التبرع بدلاً من أكاليل الزهور

ولي هنا بعض الملاحظات، أولها أنني لا أجد داعياً لتعميم الدعوة وأفضل أن يأتي من يخصني. ثانياً لم أذكر عمداً أياً من والد أو والدة الراحل لأنه لا يجب لأبوين أن يدفنا أبناءهم. وثالثاُ أعجبتني جملة المهمات الأرضية ولا أعتقد أن أحدهم قد استخدمها من قبل، لذا فحقوق الطبع حصرية لي. وبما أننا في عصر التكنولوجيا فوضع خيار الرسالة القصيرة فكرة مبتدعة لمن لا يريد تكليف نفسه عناء البرقية أو القدوم. أما عن الورود والصلبان النباتية، فهي ذات غير لزوم و يكفي واحد أو اثنين من أهل المتوفى المباشرين. التبرع لمن يحتاج أفضل بما أنني لن أكون بحاجة لا للأموال ولا للزهور.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Copper Man

I apologize first of all for not posting as frequently as I wished I could. But the arrival of my bro and the start of the new job is taking most of my time.
Anyway this is a photo I took a while ago and this gentleman is practicing one of the still remaining "on the go" professions of yore in Damascus. He whitens copper pots and plates and so forth. I am not sure what this is called in English but in Arabic he is a مبيّض and I calle him "the Copper Man".
He uses the pavement as a platform and something like a muffler as a tool for letting fire to heat the pots and the substance he uses. It is not environment friendly but it is authentic and nostalgic in a way.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Getting Paid

Ok, so now I started seeing some patients. Mostly referred by other doctors I know. The good thing about is: I haven't forgotten medicine, at least the important part of it, and I feel important in a society again trying to make a difference in someone's life... or its end.
The bad thing about it is: I have to get paid. Although strange but it never occured to me that I would be naming my price for a consultation or so. I feel weird, ashamed to do it, and also feels wrong. One would say and how is it that I am going to make a living.. and they are right.
I prefer not to take money, maybe have someone else do that... But what I come to believe in more, at least at the moment, that doctors shouldn't be paid by patients and shouldn't have to ask for money. So a system like medical insurance gets you your paycheck, occasionally, but it has its own problem. Or a system like the one I trained in last in USA: an independent big institution that pays you and all you have to do is worry about your patients. Your salary is in your pocket as long as good standards are met and good work is acheived.
Another thought, that is very racist maybe, is that medicine should only be practiced by those who are very wealthy to start with so they don't have to get paid by people to make a living (maybe they would have some other business or good inheritance).
It is something one would get used to, no doubt, but so far feels wrong :( and part of it goes probably to the fact that I always got paid during training to do my job and interact with a human not an ATM machine.

Monday, December 05, 2005

كمان أخبار الشباب

في متابعة مني لأخبار بعض الشباب من الجامعة. صادفت منذ فترة باسل رمضان وهو الآن مخدِّر مختص وأصبح أكثر نضجاً. كما أني صادفت جوهان نهرا وهو الآن في آخر سنة من اختصاص الداخلية

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Saladdin Castle

I made this panoramic picture of Saladdin Castle recently. I liked it so much I wanted to share it. Click on the picture for a bigger view, I hope..

The Clinic

After much waiting for everything to be cleared and things to be settled, I am glad to announce that finally I signed the contract and will start on Monday in my clinic located in the St. Louis Hospital (French Hospital). This topped with making the first business cards and stamps make me feel important :o)
Finally I can have my own space to practice what I learned, if possible. I will be doing palliative medicine and internal medicine.
I hope none of you reading become my patient. Otherwise you won't be… just kidding… partly kidding. Just if you come for the palliative part.
Thanks for all the support and comment during the past period of time.

Small Sky

Three days ago or so I went with three of my friends (Lina, Lama, Shaza) to watch a movie. Recently the Damascus International Film Festival was held over a period of one week. I didn't watch or participate in any of the activities, but as they were going to play the movies that were selected for the first three ranks (gold, sliver and bronze) we, or rather I, decided to watch the cream of them all, the golden prize recipient.
In the Cham theatre (the only one respectable in town, to my knowledge) the movie played. In the beginig there was a short movie (that also got the shorts' gold prize) that had no dialogue and I didn't get what it meant as I didn't see most of it.
Now to the feature presentation, an Argentinean movie called "Small Sky" or "Il cielleto" or something like that in Spanish. The movie is briefly about a young man who seemed to be a crook, used to live with his deceased grandmother. After she died he takes off and gets stuck in what is smaller than a village and work at someone's for food and shelter. He has a wife and a son. The wife gets abused and the son cries all the time, which is the most that any character said over the 90 minutes. "How are you" and "fine" made half of the rest of the dialogue. And in total the dialogue would fit on two A4 papers. The boy gets used to the man or vice versa, and the wife runs away after she was certain the boy is in good hand. Subsequently the young man runs away with the boy after he steels some money. The money gets stolen from him and he becomes homeless. Eventually decides to accompany a young criminal on a mission and gets shot and dies during that.
The meaning of the movie: never go to a golden prize film in Damascus.
The movie was slow in its pace, and I believe that everyone left cursing the hour they decided to watch it.
P.S. if this is the best movie in the festival, I am glad I didn't participate in anything else.
I was so ashamed in front of the poor girls who had to put up with me and the movie. So I guess that as I was banned from selecting a movie in USA by my friends, same thing will happen here.
Piece of advice: watch Madagascar.