The Ministry of Agriculture – Syrian Style

Amal, the english speaking member of my family, works at the syrian agricultural ministry. Shes the only english speaker  in her department, and apparently spends a lot of time talking about olive production with the only english speeker in the Italian agricultural department.

despite having no language in commen with me her couleges were all desperate for us to meet and last week I poped in to say hi.

In Amals office the were 8 people, 5 desks, a stove and a side covered in coffee things. One woman was filling in some forms, when she rembered about them. another was in chage of anserwing the phone. everyone else was drinking coffee with the dedication you’d expect of people whos job was, in effect, to drink coffee. The were 3 things that looked like ledgers, and one in tray. I was taken on a tour of the building, which contained three computers, plus Amals laptop which is usefull for playing Arabic pop music. we saw another one person working.

Amal explained that they have 2 quite big bosses, and one big boss. noone likes the big boss, because he dosn’t like the never ending sochial whirl of tea parties and coffe drinking that is office life. luckily hes often with the minister. If anyone wants to go out they tell the two less important bosses, who cover for the errent worker if the big boss asks for them. the less bossy bosses claim to have sent whoevers not theire somewhere before texting them and telling them to get back, quick.  What a civilized systam. I tryed to explain the concept of being fired for not doing your job, but Amal thought i was joking.

In theory I am a big fan of Kensyan economics. Isn’t it wonderfull that the econonmy is being stimulated? look, Amal is going to buy air con for the kitchen. the Air con man can afford to eat! everyones self worth is mentained by the knowlage that they are gainfully employed, and creating jobs for women undermines the patriacal systams which not only repress women but also stops half the countries brains and tallent contributing to the nations development.

In practice, I just dont feel like that about it.

That said it was far more entertaining than visiting dad at work. two of the men asked me to marry them and a woman, litteraly, flung herself at me (i caught her) while telling me she loved me. Someone wound some one else up by explaining how people from Hama are wrong in the head (sign language is amazing). people gave me lots of coffee. Amal and I left to get Ice cream and everyone went to the other side of the building to wave at us.


I was chatting to some other girls during the break today (the Dutch contingents grown) when it emerged that I hadn’t done all the necessary helth checks to regester, though the institute hadn’t noticed. This is extreamly anoying, as the relevent ministry closes half an hour after class finishes, so I’ll have tomiss an afternoon. Oh well.

The is no school tomorrow as we are celebrating Syrias heroic showing in the Sixth of 0ct0ber war. I have my own opinion of Syrias preformance in that war which I really want to share with everyone, but I’m not going to.

Author: adventuresinarabic

I'm studying Arabic in Damascus, living through the Arab Spring and blogging about my experiences hear.

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