Each time I see you again.
Home, that 4 letter word I mention in almost every post. When I'm here, it refers to my own place, my sanctuary. The place that has all my junk, clothes, electronic toys, and everything I've collected over the years. The place that I'm always comfortable walking around wearing only my shorts. The place where I walk out to the front yard and see my next door neighbor working on her garden dressed in those tight pink shorts.
-Good morning neighbor, it looks like it's gonna be a beautiful day
-We're having a BBQ (a cook out or "mashawi") this Saturday if you wanna come over
-I wish, but I'll be in Philly for a while
-Again? You just got back from there
I know. That's my life.
Philadelphia, Phila, Philly, or the city of brotherly love as we call it here, is a very diverse town. It's a melting pot of whites, blacks, asians, arabs, and indians among other nationalities. It's also a strange mixture of nice neighborhoods along with very dirty ones. Parking and potholes حفر are the two most nagging problems there. I piled up over $800 in parking tickets while I was there. It's also home of the famous Philly cheese steak sandwich. The movie Rocky was filmed there featuring the famous steps he trained on which belong to the Philadelphia Museum of Arts. The northeast section of the city is packed with Arab families. You can see store and restaurant signs posted in Arabic. Restaurants like Saad and Al-sham are part of that city's many attractions. Falafel and Shawerma vending trucks are also very common there. There's also a large community of black African Muslims there called Alahbash الأحباش. I was told they were a seperate muslim sect like Sunnis and Shia.
I've been forunate enough to see and live in many cities and states in this vast country إذا أحب الله عبده أراه أرضه. It's never much fun when you're away from the place you call home for an extended period, but it's always good to see and experience new places and cultures. I haven't seen Ramadan in Syria for a long time, and it'll probably be even longer. My ultimate goal is spending one of the coming Ramadans at home soon.
Meanwhile, I'll be spending this one in Philly. I wish you all the happiest Ramadan ever, and the most prosperous Eid. كل عام وأنتم بخير
I was driving down a narrow street in Damascus near the Sha'alan district. I rolled down the windows on that cool eve and listened to a tune while the traffic came to a crawl. A little girl, just like this one in the picture, approached me with tears rolling down her face and a box of gum in hand asking me if I wanted to buy one. She couldn't have been over 7 years old. The sound of her sniffling while she shed the tears still haunts me to this day. Whoever sent her to do that, how could they?
Everytime I stop at the light at Shahbandar square this little girl and her two younger brothers are standing there. She's around 10 years old, with dirty blond hair, wearing the same old rags day in and day out. She waits for the red light to do its magic and stop cars, then she approaches drivers trying to sell them candy, gum, or a piece of air freshner. One hot afternoon I was behind a row of cars at that light, and I saw her approach a man inside a nice beige new Mercedes. She knocked on the window offering her merchandise. The car door suddenly opened up with force knocking her along with her gum to the ground. Dressed in a black suit, he got out and kicked her while she was trying to get up then went back to his car as the light turned green. She tried to pick up her fallen goods, and was almost run over by him in the process while he was speeding off.
How could he?
How could they?
How could we?
This post was inspired by a comment that was posted in the previous article by a fellow blogger. Omnia wrote: "It makes me laugh to see Syrians making groups like "support Khawla " group.. I mean the little girl needed urgent operations, and what ppl could do here is joining groups.and me myself feel the same stupidity, when I write about anything troubles me in Syr, like the last post I wrote about محمية الفرنلق , while writing the post I felt stipud, I think writing this post didn't help the forest in any mean, maybe renting a car and taking some of the trash out would have helped more!" This little comment hit me like a ton of rocks after what I've seen visiting Syria. Flashbacks of bad scenes rushed through my head and I wanted to bring it to attention.
Cleanliness is next to godliness النظافة من الإيمان. All Syrians know that, and most practice it at home. But when it comes to the outside world, our streets and forests, this rule takes a side step to a new rule; get rid of your trash anywhere. I saw trash being thrown from balconies and cars with no regard to who might be the recepient on the other end. I was standing in my aunt's yard when a kid threw trash from the third floor balcony. This was not just some accident. I heard stories like that constantly. Women fill up their trash bags and throw it from their balconies to the streets. Friday outings which are a Damascene ritual where every family there goes somewhere where there's shade and trees turn our landscape into a dumpster at the end of the day. Take a drive from Damascus to Lattakia, and you'll see plastic bags and trash littered all along the endless highways. Deserts, forests, fields, lakes and all are all littered with trash and plastic bags. Isn't it time we taught our kids this behavior is wrong? Isn't it time we cared about our cities and country in general as much as we care about keeping our houses clean? Isn't it time some volunteers start a campaign to clean up our streets and spread the word around? I dare the Syrian bloggers who live back home to start that, and I promise I'll join and do my part each time I go home. We have a beautiful country, one that Most arabs and foreigners love to visit, and we are destroying it gradually with our own trash. Just like Omnia suggested, actions speak louder than words.
We, Syrians that is, like to blame everything wrong in our cmmunity on the government. The government did this, and the government didn't do that, while we practice طناش carelesness every day of our lives. We also like to blame everyone else for our shortcomings. Am I generalizing? You bet I am. It's what I've seen and experienced, and we all know it's true. As much as I hate sounding like a preacher, I feel this issue is urgent enough to forgive my lecture. It's time we did something and caused a change no matter how small. As a wise man said "Be not afraid of going slowly; be only afraid of standing still"
No, I don't, and I don't intend to start one up anytime soon either. I have to admit I tried MySpace for about a year, and recently Facebook for a couple of weeks. The two experiences were almost identical, boring, empty, and meaningless. All I did was stare at the profiles and pictures of "friends", and I use this term loosely. These "friends" never communicated with me, except for maybe a comment or two and I knew that I'll never end up meeting any of them. It seemed their only purpose behind adding me was to increase their "friends" count. Whatever happened to the good old-fashioned ways of picking up the phone, emailing, text messaging, or instant messaging a real friend? I can't speak much about Twitter or Orkut as I never even visited the sites, but I imagine they're all alike.
"Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life."
يساعدك فيس بوك على التواصل والتشارك مع كل الأشخاص في حياتك
Wow, so I can't connect with anyone I know unless I use Facebook? Or would Facebook help me get a better connection with those people? I beg to differ.
"As of today, 250 million people are using Facebook to stay updated on what's happening around them and share with the people in their lives..."
I must be some odd anti-social moron like the lady suggested. I mean what are the chances 250 million people can be wrong, and I'm right? I'm not sure. All I know is that these netwroking sites didn't serve any purpose for me, in particular, the purpose specified in their home pages.
I watched the 60 MINUTES interview with Mark Zuckerberg the 23 year old founder of Facebook (He looks 17 by the way). In case you didn't know, 60 minutes is the most watched and respected CBS news program in the USA. It aires every Sunday night. Mr. Zuckerberg couldn't crack a real smile and looked like one of those outcasts that couldn't muster any courage to talk to anyone in college. The company is worth 15 billion dollars, and he's personally worth over 3 billion. His response to the interviewer after stating these facts was that he still lives in a one bedroom apartment and sleeps on a matress on the floor. A lonely nerd that needed friends started that and the world followed. Welcome to the 21st century. It's all about money here. Facebook has been accused of using its subscribers' private information to sell ads. This social netwroking scam has been embeded in our brains as the next thing for the sole purpose of making money to the corporations that owns them. Yes ladies and gentlemen, they are owned by money-making American companies. This graphic was posted on MySpace homepage enticing new customers to sign up. I'll leave it up to you to figure out what kind of intended audience it was aimed at.
The next argument for using these services would be to aquire new "friends". Do we really need those so-called "friends"? Last time I was on MySpace I had over 50 "friends", and other than exchanging a few comments or a two-line email, there was hardly anything else to speak of. Most of the emails and the "friend" requests I got there lead to porn websites.
I have no doubt these networking sites can be useful to some busy people. The type of celebrities and politicians and media people can use it to update their fan base on a regular basis. But notice how I used the word fan in the previous statement. That's so far off from the intended purpose of staying in touch with friends. I don't think 250 million people belong to the category that can use Social Networking sites and benefit from them.
Why am I ranting and raving about social networking? Well, the service might do well in the American and western culture, but in our Syrian and Arabic societies there's just no use for it. It never seizes to amaze me how many bloggers are so devastated over Facebook being blocked in Syria. Others were also angry about president Asssad starting a Facebook page while it's still blocked back home. I'm not sure if a president ever has the time for this nonsense. I saw the page, and the pictures look authentic, but anyone could've started this page.
For now, I don't need Facebook or Twitter. I don't need MySpace or Orkut. I'm just happy with my little Blog sharing what I choose to.
رجعت الملاك اللي جنبي تصرخ هي و إخواتها
وبديت أنا إصرخ
ولي... شو خلص الخبز؟
جمال و أنوثة بس بيلبسوا ألوان بتقرف
بدي إتجوز عالعتمة
الكهربا مقطوعة ولو طلعت مرتي عورة
ولما بتنقطع المي
بدي إرجع...بدي إرجع