Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Monday 9/2
I am still in Amman. I will go back to Baghdad by the end of the week, insha allah (god willing).
Now I want to discuss some small details about life in Amman. In the last two days, I encountered two things that reminded me of the cruelty of being in a foreign land. I registered to study typing at a learning center; the owner is my husband s friend. Off course I get special treatment. Eventhough I committed to pay for a week s worth of tuition, I paid half a months worth of tuition instead. My sister objected and said that is too much. I told her, it doesn t matter; I don t want them to feel that I am using the friendship between my husband and the owner. I will try to attend all my classes if possible regardless whether they are held in the morning or the evening. After
two days at the center, I got to know one of my fellow students there. He works as an accountant at a company. He was working with the program Excel and I was practicing typing. What a jam, to remember which line I am on, where to place my fingers and remember their positions. I became hysterical and started to laugh. What torture this is. To stare at the screen and let your finger work on their own. I felt sympathy for all the secretaries in the world. I felt depressed, an engineer that
can t do the job of a secretary. While I was there busy with my typing dilemma, and trying to do the homework that was demanded by our teacher, who had left the center already. The accountant came up to me and asked me with lots of shyness and hesitation, if I knew anything about the Internet. I smiled and said, yes a little. How may I help you. He complained to me that he knows nothing about it and asked me to help him. Why don t you know, I asked him. How many lessons have you taken
here? He told me that the teacher gave him a 5-minute explanation about email and the internet after he finished working with Excel. Then the teacher left. He told me that he felt too shy to ask anybody else for help. Why are you shy? I asked him. You paid full tuition for a full course, you should leave here with full understanding . He nodded his head but he told me he is afraid. What are you afraid of? I asked him, just go and talk to the person responsible for all the courses and she will get one of the technicians to explain everything to you. His attitude was negative towards that idea. So I turned my chair around and I dragged him to the computer he was working on. I
grabbed the computer mouse and showed him how to enter news websites, sports pages, economy and technology. I showed him how to click on links and then return to the main page. He was very happy. I left him and went back to my table. He came back calling me. Where did the browser go? What did you do? He said that he moved the mouse accidentally and it closed the browser for him. Then I noticed that he doesn t know how to control the mouse. I got angry! How many lessons did you take? 10. I
laughed in a nervous way, you have taken 10 classes and you haven t even learned how to move the mouse. What did you learn then? Why don t you ask questions when you don t know something. He said that he does ask question but the teacher ignores him. You know the people here, people from good financial backgrounds get good treatment here, a poor employee like me, who care about me? His words
annoyed me. It reminded me of my younger years, I was shy and sensitive, I was eager to learn. I found many selfish engineers who had lots of knowledge and years of expertise but would not help me. That was when I started my professional life in Beirut and then Amman. I left the room and called one of the people in charge, he came running, yes madam. I told him in an angry way, this student has been taking 10 classes and he hasn t learned the simplest things. The person in charge looked angry suddenly, he entered the room and started a discussion with the poor accountant. In
summary he told him that he only paid 25 dinar and therefore should not expect to understand everything.
If he pays 40 more dinars he will be able to learn the remaining details. Then the person in charge left the room murmuring to himself about how people are stupid and have no manners. The poor accountant stayed sad staring at me. I smiled at him and told him to take further classes. He said that he can t afford all the extra expenses. I was very surprised. These are imported manners, the manners of a capitalist state. When they take root, people forget humanitarian relationships and everything becomes money. Isn t that the life style that many people live, it destroys their
In the evening, I went with Raed to an internet Caf鮠The place was nice, quiet and clean. All the people there were mostly youngsters. A beautiful quiet was enveloping the place. Then suddenly, the quiet was gone. An argument erupted between one of the customers and the person at the cashier.
You must pay two dinars, no! only one, you are thiefs, look at the screen at the computer, it says clearly that you took up 1.95 worth, then why do you want me to pay 2 then? You are a thief. The argument lasted 35 minutes. Non of the other people in the caf頷as paying attention.
Me and Raed laughed. How embarrassing, Raed tried to intervene by offering some suggestions, but the customer was angry and wouldn t agree to any of them. Then Raed suggested that all the other customers in the caf頳plit the difference so that the customer would go away and we could have quiet again., they all refused the idea. It is non of our business they all said.
I told Raed why don t you just pay the money of behalf of the customer and solve the problem. Raed said, mom, it is not about one or two dinars, it is about the principle. We left the internet caf頊in surprise and laughing about what we witnessed. Will Baghdad become transformed into such a place? Once we implement the western culture? I told Raed, do you remember our surprise when we went to the kebab place in Baghdad and all the customer would pass the cashier person on their way our.
They had no bills or anything, the cashier person would ask them in a quiet and polite manner, what did you guys have? And they would answer so many kebabs, so many soft drinks and he would tell them what they had to pay. Each person would pay and leave. The cashier would say as they were leaving, thank you friend, welcome. They would part with these nice words. Is it because of the sanctions and the backward conditions that followed that made us hold on to these values? Is that why some sympathy stayed in our hearts for the poor and orphaned? If the future is promising, yet we become hard hearted, slaves to materialism. Then I suggest that we let somebody else enjoy the promising future, people who have forgotten their roots or became too arrogant to even remember. With all our hopes for Iraq, we still have compassion in our hearts for each other and respect for each other. Money can be a motivator for some of our actions but it is not the primary one, not even the secondary one. Here! I am happy now. I found a positive aspect to our life there. I miss that
here. I miss it intensely.
[translation www.ihath.com]

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