Conversations with Um Bassam

Um Bassam told me when I moved in that we need to drink coffee together every morning… to which I replied “I don’t drink coffee”, though I left out the “for the 21st time” floating around in my head. So I drink tea and eat cornflakes while she sits and watches me eat and we talk. A sampling of the conversation this morning (keep in mind this is in Arabic, so sometimes comprehension isn’t 100%):

  • She told me the story from Christian folklore of St. George slaying the dragon, which lasted about 15 minutes. I had no clue it was so complicated. George’s Arabic name is Jiryis.
  • We talked about the neighborhood and she said it had everything, and everything to her meant an internet cafe (which I doubt she’s ever been in) and a doctor.
  • Then she told me a story about a man from her town (Ma’lool) who accidentally swallowed a bunch of nails (still a little confused about the details of this one). He went to the doctor for X-rays and the doctor told him he would die. But then he went to the monastery and drank some oil (?) and then when he went back to the doctor the nails were in his hand instead of his stomach. Miracle!! I think I am definitely missing some details there.
  • And then I showed her Jordanian currency, which she had never seen before, despite living about an hour from the Jordanian border.

So far, she’s been far more helpful than the tutor… and definitely more interesting.

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Posted on August 8, 2010, in Arabic, Syria. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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