‘Olay’ he bellowes. ‘What are you doing?’
I’m sat on the floor of my room, writing out all my vocabulary in neat. all the words starting with ا on one piece of paper, all the words starting with ب on the next… I’m going to stick them round my room, It’ll be like a dictionary of words I’m supposed to know.
‘This is a very bad way to study. very messy.’
He picks up one of my bits of paper and glares shortsightedly at it.
‘Do you know the word raaaRG’ he asks, or at lest thats what it sounds like.
‘you must know this word. It is VERY important’ he teaches me to pronounce it, and writes it out carefully for me in Arabic.
‘What does it mean?’
‘That I do not know.’
My new house is higher on romance and atmosphere than mod cons or structural integrity, but Damascus is much better at romance than practicality, so I’m playing to the cities strengths here. When in Rome and all that…
The front door lets in to a large room, compleatly dominated by the stairs, which seem just as dodge now I’ve seen them and are positioned to use the maxmium amount of space posible. The worst steps are close enough to the floor that a fall wont be fatal, though, so thats OK. the’s a raised sky light/cupola above them which is missing a significant chunk of roof.
The Landlord stores various bits and bobs downstairs, and acording to A’hmed a man rents a room as his damascus adress, but hes never in town. We all live upstairs. All the rooms apart from mine are arranged around the gently fading balcony that runs round the inside of the courtyard. the coartyard is three pronged, directly below us is a broken fountain and moden tileing but the center has a lime tree and olives, which are irrigated by someone though the fruit is now rotting on the branches. Around the call for evening prayers someone builds a nargila and we gather around. As the sun goes down we gradualy loose sight of the peaches and oranges in next doors courtyard, only the sent of jasmin remaining as we chill. The two dusty palms in the school play ground beyond stand silouted against the sky, late into the night.
My room has a paté pink cealing and top 5 cm of wall. the bottom meter and a half is paté brown. the paté is seperated by pastasio green. being in it is a bit like being iside one of those tricoulored icecreams. The one plug& light switch is hanging on at an intresting angle and needs to be wedged a certain way to work. I’m going to get some tape to stick it on the wall properly, though I’m not going to start useing it with wet hands.
Nisreen assures me that in the winter needing to go outside to shower or use the kitchen will be annoying at best, and cause frostbite at worst. while i take her point that my house and its high cellings are built to disapate heat, not insulate, we’re still in the low 30s tempreture wise and I can’t belive in winter. ………………………………………………………………..
I’ve also changed class. My old one was dominated by an Iranian in his early 30s, who told me and Lekia that it was very easy. Why were we struggling? we must work. We bloady are, our native languages aren’t writen in the arabic script and have nothing in comman with Arabic. I might also find it easier if i spoke 3 languages allready.
The teacher was always late, inaprochable and spoke no english. The style of teaching didn’t work for me at all and I pretty much never understood what was going on.
I’ve got them to move me. I was aiming for this guy who we had one day when our own teacher didn’t show up, but I’ve got some one else. She uses english when her students dont understand and lessons are both more structured and more interactive. Its great. More about this another time I think.