3 AM Stories

A social life, or at lest a ‘going out life’ in a country where 85% of the population at lest theoretically don’t drink is ‘interesting.’ There are a lot of language students hear, certainly enough to create a viable market for Western nightlife, and its by no means a purely Western experience. For my birthday I smoked nargellia with some friends rather than having a few beers as Shahien and Roshanna don’t drink. Cheers for all the messages, by the way. I appreciate it. The night I stayed up till 6am at Pauls talking politics, me drinking beer, Paul on the Arak is pretty representative of my social life. I remember the way Paul looked through his halo of cigarette smoke and how the light turned his ice cubes into moonstones, then waking up and hour and a half later with Paul stood by his bed looking at me with the intensity of a cat. He’d pushed me out his bed before I’d even killed my alarm so that he could get into it and i could go to the mahad. Elhamduila for the coffee man, man. Rami likes to dance if Ska or something is playing. Ramis too cool to care that its early afternoon, that no one is drinking and its just him dancing. But the are clubs hear, where East meets West in mutual bafflement. both sides are strangely changed by the interaction, which isn’t to say it can’t be fun. enjoy a bunch of random storys that highlight  different aspects of going out hear.

Why on earth does Syria not understand the concept of vodka and coke? Baccadi and coke, yes, vodka and orange, yes again. But vodka and coke, no. Also Syria dosn’t seem to get the whole ‘customer is always right’ thing. Barmen just cannot believe I really want vodka and coke, they think my Arabic is defective. I have to get someone to negotiate for me. Once (but definitely never again) it was Rami.

‘Rami, fucking get him to put some coke in it.’        ‘What!’                                                                                                                                                    ‘Coke. In my vodka.’                                                                                                                           ‘O, that is fucking disgusting.’                                                                                                   ‘Don’t give me any of this Rami. In the UK, we put Coke a Cola in our vodka. And I am from the UK.’                                                                                                                                               Rami and the barman have a short argument.                                                                            ‘He says he’ll put some orange in it.’                                                                                                ‘I don’t want fucking orange in it, I want Coke. I’m fucking tiered, I need suger and caffine and I’m the one going to drink it’                                                                                               Rami and the Barman negotiate, I recognize the Arabic for foreign several times. The barman looks extremely dubious, but produces a can of Pepsi. I’m not going to argue the difference. He and Rami,who looks equally unconvinced, look at me, I poor the Pepsi into my glass, the barman reaches to grab it so I can’t pollute my cheep nasty Syrian vodka further.                                                                                                                                             ‘god keep your hand’ I say. Rami laughs, he always does when I use Arabic that some one else taught me.


Serali’s the club thats strictest about not letting men in with out a female chaperon to ensure good behavior. I’ve never been but word on the street is that men just take along prostitutes to get round the problem. I am gleefully assured that its pretty obvious which of the women are literally escorts. The men are then forced to pretend harder to be in committed relationships, and spend allot of time accusing other men of pulling the moves on their ‘girlfriend.’ Danny refers to it as ‘Serali. Are you looking at my girlfriend? Are you looking at my girlfriend?’ Danny loves talking about it, partly because he gets the chance to use his 5 new Arabic words for ‘fight’. I’m not entirely sure what he gets so excited about though as ‘khnaaga chammeia’, a Damaceane fight, kinda means mouthing off with lots of noise and no violence. If I was a journalist I’d make an effort to substantiate the roumers, but as I’m a language student I feel entitled to save my cash, repeat hearsay and not waste a Thursday night.


A story thats defenetly not from three AM- How I found myself doing Dabka, a kind of Arab group tap dancing, basically the Lavents take on morris dancing, to Gloria Gaynors ‘I will Survive!’ Rami took Sophia and me to a girl on his courses birthday party. Im not entirely sure what the deal was; it was in a club, it cost 600 to get in (including two ‘free’ drinks) it was only the girl and her friends their, and the was music from 6pm to 10.30pm. I think part of the reason Rami wanted to take us was because we would take bags and he could secreate booze in those bags. We were the only people doing this, but then Ramis Druze. While I think we did give Ramis social standing a bit of a boost (I know that bringing a couple of foreign girls along to a caving social would precipitate some good natured teasing in Aber. Rami wont engage with any questions about what will happen hear) we were definitely under dressed. being Europeans we work a slightly more ‘sweetly disheveled’ low maintenance look than Syrian girls, who are perfectly made up at all times, anyway. And we were in our street cloths. no satin, no ruffles, no high heals, no trips to the hairdresser for us. And no flesh either, its cold at night.

You know how when we go out we dance in a little group? Syria dances in pairs, unless its doing Dabka, so our little three looked slightly out of place on the dance floor. Sophia danced with some other guy for a bit, but Rami asked me if I could bring her back as he really hates that man so I cut her out like a quarter horse selecting a heifer and turned her round to dance with Rami.

Author: adventuresinarabic

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

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