Trip Start Feb 22, 2007
38Trip End Jul 19, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
But first I will bring you up to speed here in Damascus. For the past month I have been studying Syrian (more specifically, Damascene) dialect at Damascus University in the hope of improving my comprehension, which has always been the Achilles heel of my Arabic learning. I have thoroughly enjoyed this process, and, having previously studied only Modern Standard Arabic, it has breathed much-needed new life into my overall goal of Arabic proficiency. It has at times been like learning an entirely new language, but in has really made a huge difference in my ability to converse more naturally on the streets. The classes too were conducted entirely in Arabic (mostly in dialect), which was a necessary hardship in improving quickly. Too often in Yemen, perhaps, I slipped back into English in class when I was stuck.
Perhaps (no, for certain) the main reason I have so enjoyed this foray into Arabic dialect is because of the beautiful young Syrian woman who taught our course. Named Ghada (not the most beautiful name, I admit), she stood all of 5ft or so, yet her boundless enthusiasm and good humour belied her tiny frame. Her face, looking always smooth and soft, bore not a single wrinkle or blemish, and only her own admission betrayed her 27 years. Behind the thin frames of her glasses (those who know me at all will know I have a 'thing' for girls with glasses) hid deep, searching eyes like rivers of the richest, darkest brown whose currents threatened to engulf me with every gaze. I must stop myself now, for I fear I'll make a fool of myself in describing her to you. So, I'll save time and say instead that she kind of looked like a younger, Syrian version of Elaine from Seinfeld, but in the best possible way and without the ridiculous hair-do.
I was not alone in my infatuation, however, for the four other students (all male) who lasted the full course (from the ten or so mixed group that started) also fell hard. Each lesson became almost a farce, as the five of us would compete to see who could come up with the wittiest ripostes to her questions and comments, thereby inducing her wonderful laugh or her broad smile. During the breaks, my classmates and I would discuss who was winning the battle that day, and at various stages we each believed we'd sensed a 'vibe'. Quite pathetic on our parts really, as in retrospect it was surely just her sedulous commitment to her job, but it was fun for us to dream.
Other than my schoolboy crush (my first, incidentally, since aged 8 in Primary School), I can't think of much else to report here. I'm sure you'll be hearing plenty about my trip to Jordan upon my return in a week or so.