Showing posts from June, 2007

Alto Mare

A job, any job, must have non-monetary perks on the side, some pleasant tasks or surprises. If not, we might all run the risk of going bored then insane. When we make our living out of the sea, even us, desk jockeys, get the opportunity to go out in the field every once in a while. Although I rarely make port visits, when I do, it just feels like homecoming. You see, earlier on in my career I worked on site rather than in an office. And, one of the most rewarding tasks I was engaged in for over two years was that of a supervisor in an underwater construction project in the port of Tartous . The phone call came in sometime last week. A new Italian Riva powerboat had arrived in town earlier. It’s sitting high and dry waiting for its maiden sailing. There are forms to be filled, approvals to be sought and piles of paperwork before the boat can even wets its propeller. - Don’t worry , I said, I’ll put two of the guys from the office to work on it right away . - Well that of course, but w

Eleven Days

As the wheels underneath the wings squeaked and kissed the hot tarmac in Damascus my voyage was drawing closer to an end. I stepped out in the sun and a whiff of home tickled my nose. Not yet , I thought, there’s still a dreary ride across a desert road before I finally make it to the shore of Tartous . Eleven days, twelve flights, five cities, lonely nights in strange hotels, exasperating meetings around oak tables, luxurious meals in fine restaurants, dazzling looks of beautiful women and here I am again, back where I have started. Traveling has always pleasantly surprised me. The anticipation before reaching a new city and the longing to return to mine. The things I would do, the places I would see, the people I would meet and the memories that will creep up on me before I surrender to sleep. Smells, tastes, textures, colors and feelings are fresh and hold my senses like a first encounter with a mysterious woman. “ J’ai des mémoires de villes comme on a des mémoires d’amour ”. In


The present Syrian school system traces its origins to the French occupation period. Back in the 1940’s it was, no doubt, a great one, and those who had received their secondary school diploma then and later on into the early 1960’s were among the best high school graduates in the world. But since science and technology (and even literature) have not stood still but perpetually kept moving forward, any educational system must follow suit or risks becoming an obsolete and outdated burden on the minds of students and teachers alike. This is exactly where we are today in Syria with the Bakaloria National Exam , coming up on Sunday the 3rd of June. This stringent, archaic and futile test is a make or break milestone in the lives of Syrian youth. At their final and 12th year of schooling they encounter the toughest obstacle of their entire lives. Here they are, at the tender age of 17 or 18, coming face to face with a dinosaur, which for all practical purposes should have become extinct