Thursday, August 31, 2006

An Evening in the Spa

This was my fiancée’s gift to me on my birthday. A surprise gift that she has put a lot of effort to make it happen as the Four Seasons Spa is dedicated for the hotel guests only. But again it’s who you know, and not what you know. I will have to say that my experience was the 180 degree opposite of that of my brother and wife.
I was told to go and meet a sales representative without knowing what I am going to do. There I was taken to the spa area where it was explained to me what my gift was: use of the steam room and spa facilities with a 45 minutes massage, something I always wanted to get instead of giving.
I will have to say that the area was so well equipped that I didn’t need anything at all, mind you that I went to the hotel as is, no preparation for anything.
After I changed I took a brief shower and went to the steam room, it said outside that the temperature is 52 degrees or so, it felt like a 110 especially with all the dense steam that made me lose some 3 liters of sweat and feel like a fish. Breathing was so difficult. I thought if this is what Kuwait’s weather in the summer would be like in the shadow, I definitely don’t want to be there, even with AC.
Next was the massage session, after I cleaned myself again. There were a couple of masseurs, a male and a female. I got undressed and slipped myself under the cover. I was told later that my fiancée asked that they get me “the prettiest girl” for this. I am not sure how to judge prettiness from the feeling of the hands. Furthermore, I definitely don’t want to have a sexy girl massaging me, as I don’t think am prepared for the humiliation of an accidental, say, increase in “blood flow” to certain areas. No accidents suffered, if anyone is curious.
The feeling of a complete massage from toe to top is a different feeling. It feels good and relaxing. I felt also a bit taller and stretched, with few spine cracks. The two were pretty synchronous in moving to the degree it felt like one person with four arms.
The setting was perfect and had a relaxing vibe to it, with soft natural music and lit candles, etc...
I think this was the most interesting and ingenious gift I received on a birthday, thanks to my Rabroub.

Borong Bus... The Visual

Thanks to Hadi. See the related postPosted by Picasa

مفاضلة البكلوريا

ظهرت اليوم نتائج البكلوريا بفرعيها أو ما يسمى بالمفاضلة. وأول ما قمت بعمله هو المقارنة مع أيامي السالفة وأيضاً النظر إلى علامات هذه السنة. أعلى اختصاص معدلاً هو كالعادة الطب البشري بمعدل 236 (يعني 4.91 من 5 على النظام الغربي) من 240 علامة. يعني يجب ألا تنقص الطالب أكثر من 4 علامات كي يستطيع أن ينتقي على كيفه.
منذ أربعة عشر سنة، جمعت 215 في البكلوريا مما أهلني لدخول أي شيء (كان معدل الطب البشري في دمشق 201) ما عدا اللغات إذ كانت علاماتي فيها سيئة نسبياً، ودخلت وقتها كلية الطب.
لو أنني حزت على نفس المجموع هذه السنة لكانت هذه هي رغباتي المتاحة في دمشق على الترتيب:
1- هندسة الغزل والنسيج
2- معهد العمل اليدوي دمشق الرقة
3- معهد تعويضات سنية
4- معهد الاتصالات
5- هندسة الزراعة
6- الاقتصاد
7- الرياضيات
8- التربية (معلم صف)
9- المعهد الصحي
10- معهد العمل اليدوي دمشق درعا

لا أدري ما الذي تغير مع الزمن، هل أصبح الطلاب السوريين عباقرة أكثر، هل أصبح التدريس أفضل، هل أصبحت الأسئلة وإجاباتها أسهل، هل أصبح التصليح أكثر مراعاة، أو أنها أعداد الناجح ويعيد المتكاثرة؟ وغيرها من الأسئلة.
وأتساءل عما إذا كانت الأسئلة توضع بشكل يكون هنالك سؤال للطلاب المتفوقين فعلاً، مثلاً مسألة صعبة في الرياضيات أو الفيزياء، أو سؤال استنتاجي في مواد أخرى إجابته ليست مباشرة، إلخ...
بالمختصر، أصبحت البكالوريا فزاعة المواطن ذوي المجال العمري 16-17 سنة. ولا أرى تغييراً قريباً في هذا المجال.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My Birthday...

Happens to be today. I am 31 now. Three decades are consumed. I don't feel like I am growing older. I just wish I never remembered it is mine, so at least I would feel surprised when someone calls or sends an email or so...
Another year to handle now. Then I will probably stop this blog. I only hope that interesting things continue to come across my path.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

George Galloway Lecture

It was announced that the pro-Arab British parliament member George Galloway is going to lecture in Damascus. So I decided to go and attend.
In the lecture... Well I didn't attend it. But I made the effort to go. I was there 5 minutes early and was faced with a huge crowd extending to outside the auditorium which was full with no place for a footprint. There was another room in which there was a screen and some chairs placed for those who didn't fit in the auditorium. This also was full and people standing.
Once the lecture began, at this time I was outside enjoying a nice breeze and a good look at the Omayad Square, I heard some people mentioning that audio is malfunctioning, and attendee can't hear anything, almost.
Of course I was pissed off because of what happened. First, this was a public invitation and it is expected that a large number of people would show up, so next time, pick a larger place to seat people. Second, what kind of event organizer doesn't try things out before the real event takes place? And when is the end of the line for the series of my consecutive disappointments?

طوني في سوريا

Tony says: "the best thing about visiting Syria as an expatriot is that your schedule gets overbooked as soon as you touch the Homeland soil. So enough complaining about not having time in USA, the same thing is happening here. The only difference is that you don't have a choice here to schedule it. It is already in existance before you know it."

Tony is probably the oldest friend I know, and his coming to Syria this summer was a pleasant surprise. We were together since seventh grade (1986) and occupied the same bank in school for 6 years, then 6 years in Medical School, then in the USA we were constantly in touch, including numerous visits and meetings. This was true in the last 2 years when we were closer than usual. We had the "Al-Janneh Restaurant protocol" during our visits to Detroit were we would have lunch even before doing anything else (the other culprit being Philip "the Elephant"). Posted by Picasa

I Can't Take It Anymore...

I promised myself not to write about weddings anymore, but I will have to. The issue is still haunting me. Now there is an issue that is more disturbing than anything else: Flashbacks. Not that I am getting recollections of the wedding ceremony and party and stuff. But now the DVDs are here, and it’s DVD attack time. And I must have seen them 6-7 times over the last 3 weeks or so.
After I got them for the first time I watched all 6 hours in 1.5 hours. You guessed it right: fast forward. But after that my folks got to see them, and I was there. Then everyone who wasn’t in the wedding got to see them, and I was there. Then everyone who was in the wedding, and I was there too.
After the second time it feels like a punishment. Not so much for my parents because they spend the time commenting (Director’s Commenting Audio Option), and not so much for my brother and wife, because until now they haven’t seen the stuff, yet.
And in addition I had to redesign the DVD case covers because the ones that came with it were kind of sloppy.
I wonder if there are any married people passing by here who would like to let me know how many times they watch their wedding films, so I can prepare myself mentally at least for the future.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

New Gadget

I like my new Flash memory, it is so tiny. When it folds it is half the size. And it hold 1 Gigabytes of memory. Posted by Picasa

Western Union

One of my relatives owed me some dollars, and it was set that he will transfer me the money through western union, which has several locations in Syria now.
I am not sure how it is supposed to work, but this is how it worked.
I waited... and waited... then waited, and no one contacted me regarding the transfer. Then my relative calls me from overseas to tell me that he was called by Western Union because I didn't pick my money. So he asked them did you call him and he didn't come. The answer was, of course: no, he should go there (indirectly meaning that I was responsible for not knowing that I should make a guess or a telepathic effort to figure out that I have to go without being summoned).
So I went and took the transfer number and my ID. After 5 minutes wait I was given my money in... Syrian pounds.. I requested that I want them in dollors, the way they were transfered to me. But the clerk told me that it is against the Syrian laws to deal with dollars this way.
Who is the asshole who made such a law into existance. I thought we have made huge steps in letting private banks open and have transactions in dollars possible, but now they tell me that it is against the law... Shame
I know now from the Western Union rules that usually the payment is in the currency of the country the amount is sent to, but also US dollars are the other option in the majority of countries. They do this because in addition to transfer fees, they collect the difference in currency exchange done on either sides.. Smart huh!!
To sum up, no more Western Union, for me.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Doctors in USA wanting to get married....

Improve your credentials!!!
This story was narrated by a friend of mine, and it is true 100%.

A doctor friend, few years back, came to Syria for getting married. With him, he brought his best friend, a doctor too, as his best man. It seems that some likening developed between the best man and the bride's maid. The following conversation took place between the best man and the bride's maid mother... (and I will have to write this in Arabic, words written in English are spoken in English)

الأم: ماذا تعمل في أمريكا
الاشبين: طبيب
الأم: حلو، متخصص؟
الاشبين: عم أدرس صدرية
الأم: صدرية.. يعني pulmonary. طيب مع critical care ولا بدون critical care؟
الاشبين: مع critical care
الأم: طب عم تدرس بـ community hospital ولا university hospital؟
الاشبين: بـ university hospital
الأم: معك green card ولا فيزا H1 أو J1؟
الاشبين: والله على J1
الأم: له له له يا طانت. يعني لسه عندك waiver وبعدين حتى تاخد green card وبعدين جنسية....

ومن لحظتها تناشفت الأم وما عاد عطته وش ودلقتلو سطل مي باردة

So guys.. Improve your credentials, because mothers in law are not what they used to be... LOL

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

عجة بيض

This is one of my favorite home made sweets. A fried mix of flour and egg dipped in sugar syrup.
And God created Ijjet Beid and said: it is gooooooooooood. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Hey Maher, this is especially for you. I also saw all your sisters and brother in the night club a couple of days ago, including all who are abroad. Only you were missing... You should have come.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Laique Reunion - Summer of Surprises

This summer was full of surprises and get togethers with people I haven't seen for a while.
First my friends from USA started arriving one after the other. Four so far have showed up including: Fadi, Ayham (the Boss), Tony (my best friend), and Ayham (aka Schneider) :p
Tony surprised me at a wedding party a week ago.
In addition, at the same party I met Firas (to the right of the picture) whom I haven't seen for 14 years or so. The one in the middle, Zyad, have been out of reach except for a couple of emails few years back, after which we lost touch completely. I met him at 102 where I spend most of doing nothing time. Both of these two guys with Tony have been schoolmates.
Today we decided to have a very small reunion and met at the usual spot of Steed. Tony is not in the picture because he had to leave earlier, I could have added him digitally though.
It is very nice remembering old memories and events at school including some gossips.
The Laique should make a better effort in getting its graduates information and names online on their website that holds nothing important at all.
But anyway, I am excited to get together with all these people after years of no shows. Posted by Picasa


I couldn't, or rather we couldn't, help but having lots of fun as we read the menu items of the بيت الياسمين (Beit Al-Yasmeen) Restaurant.
And the translation goes as follows:
Sticks = Stakes
Keeve = A la Kiev (as I believe, but it is definitely not as written)
Blue = Bleu (I don't want to be too critical, it could be correct in English, but I know it is written in French)
Felaih = Filet (I can't believe someone fell for this horrible mistake, what kind of an asshole is responsible for this??? And how come that we started translating From Arabic to English some words that are already English or French in origin, and at the same time they are not translated into an Arabic equivalent, just a phonetic equivalent)
Chicken Chest = Chicken Breast (They may have thought that chicken breast is a bit too sexy)

Bottom line, is it possible that these deadly mistakes are happening every here and there?
What kind of people are running the restaurant without internally reviewing what shows on their menus?
Why doesn't the ministry of tourism or the one responsible for restaurants employ or create the position: "Menu Checker" to correct all the typos and translation errors that occur. These are not the first I saw, will not be the last. It just happened I had a camera with me.
Again, definitely the English version of a menu is not dedicated for us. So if a foreigner decides to come to a restaurant and read the menu, shouldn't it be correct and sense-making? Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 10, 2006

New Blog

Please watch out for a new parallel blog of mine that will be published soon.
It will be simple and straightforward... of real life. Not mine though.

Good Things About My Country: Absolutely No Trash... Revisited

Due to popular request I decided to talk about a good thing that happened here.
If you remember the link about Absolutely No Trash, there is an update to it.
Can you tell the difference? Yes.. Hurray. I like to think that I have an indirect role in that.

A trash can occupies the place where trash used to be...


Trash found another place :(

Sorry guys about the disappointment.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Weddings, Weddings... And More Weddings

It's like a never ending flashback. I have attended more wedding this summer than probably my whole life. And although it is true that it is nice to share the happiness of others, but things become monotonous after a while and they become boring.
Why boring? Remember the famous saying: same shit different day? In this case it is: Same wedding different names.
The wedding sermon is essentially the same (except for yesterday's, because it was a protestant wedding). I just wish I can replace everything with my own vision of a wedding.
They become boring because most of what I do now is looking at details and forgetting the big picture (which is repetitive anyway). What was the decoration like? What was the lighting light? Who is shooting the video? And who is performing.... Oh, that doesn't need to be asked, it's "Freedom" band anywhere you go or you don't.
What annoys me the most is "loop dancing", if I can call it dancing. In 80% of the live music (or DJ) time people would just stand in circles around the newlyweds and clap while standing and doing nothing. But I wanna dance...
I am tired, I am happy things seem to be quite now for the rest of the summer.
I should admit though that the good thing about these weddings is that I get to see other people whom I haven't met for ages.

Yesterday for example I met accidentally a fellow who was at school with me and haven't seen him for 14 years. My dearest friend Tony have also just arrived from USA and came to surprise me at the party. And that was a really nice surprise.

Engough of weddings for now. I promise not to talk about them until mine.