Saturday, September 30, 2006

corn hole ing

Just some randomness that I really can't make any sense of:

- Walked by a man that pulled a cob of corn out of his pocket, take a bite, and then put it back.

- What did I do in a past life to be plagued with small-dicked men?

- Why does my Syrian roommate give me a glass of "orange-flavored fizzy-drink'' everyday?

- Do Christans not eat during Ramadan? Because seriously, gurl, nothing's fucking open when I'm hungry.

- Crotch-grabbing/scratching/clawing is officially in full-effect in Syria. Is there any Middle Eastern country that doesn't partake in this pastime? If there were a contest, the Egyptians would win, though.

- How does everyone stay so thin on a steady diet of meat drench with fat from sheep's tail, mini-cheese pizzas, fried dough covered in honey, and cheese pastries? Maybe we have something in common - liquid poo.

Monday, September 25, 2006

could be fun, could be the hiv

I've been hanging out with the group of kids that are using the same service that I'm using for my living situation. They're all super-good at Arabic and I'm always the stupid one. Which is difficult for me, because let's face it, I'm pretty good at most things.

Anyway. A new kid arrived from Texas and he doesn't know jackshit, so I thought I could start feeling good about myself again.


But then I tried buying my 1000th schwarma sandwich the other night (and let me say that I've never had problems with this task previously) and the schwarma man asked me if I was speaking English or Arabic to him. Excuse me, and I'm that terrible? Then he went on to say that my Arabic is neither good nor bad, but that he can't understand me. Again, excuse me? Do I know you?

Needless to say, I've since enrolled myself with a private Yemeni conversational teacher. I told him my sob story, he felt my pain, and told me that the Syrians are stupid and that he can understand me. He may have been lying, but it made me feel better.

But in more exciting news, I've had two "dates" this week (what is a date in the ME anyway?). I know. Shocking. I'm just going to come out and say it because this is the way its done here for obvious reasons, but yes, we totally met on the Internet. I can officially say that the Internet is a viable portal for meeting people - maybe not the right people, but you can reach out and touch someone if you really want to.

Number 1: Told me to meet him in a park. Cool. Should I wait for someone to stick a dick in my ear while I sit on the bench? Don't only hustlers and drug addicts meet in parks?

Whatever. I complied.

Was at least tall, but not as fit as I like them to be.

In the first 5 minutes I felt like I was on some sort of NYC public access drama about guys picking up guys in parks. Dude was in therapy, but then his therapist came onto him, but he's still on his meds, and they make him feel really good. Daddy gives him an allowance for such things like iPods and designer chocolate chips cookies. His allowance at university was $50,000/year. I asked him what he had to show for it and he said nothing, except a $400 DKNY shirt. I'm sorry, but since when did Donna Karan's shitty offshoot start producing $400 items? I hope it said DKNY in big, reflective letters whatever it was.

God, what I'd do to be an Emirati.

We're going to 'break fast' together next week. We'll remain friends but nobody's getting poked with the cattle prod.

Number 2: For those in the know, there is officially a Middle Eastern version of Grant. Fierceness. While it's fun playing around with elfs, it does feel slightly pedophilic. Like hanging out with my kid brother or something. "Do you want to go on the swingset later, Bobby?"

I thought it all went nowhere, but then I got the requisite - "Beer, my house, extra bed" schpeel. I've long since outgrown my teasing phase and basically said, "I'll take the beer and hang out at your place, but I can tell you now that I am not sleeping over." I thought that was very grown up of me sonsidering my past behavior. I'd usually hem-and-haw, end up shit-faced and naked, and then "come to" and realize that I'm a massive retard and that I should just roll over and die.

And while I'm not a huge fan of talking about myself, I'm not exactly sure if even one question was thrown my way. There should be some sort of reciprocality in any relationship, even if its an acquaitanceship, right? That's what Tyra says at least.

Regardless. It could be fun, but it could be a really good way to catch a disease.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

mangina

Had a whirlwind past couple days. Somehow managed to squeeze in 3 weekends worth of trips into one long weekend. I'm totally a warrior tourist - why am I not on the Amazing Race?

I started off in the desert at Deir a-Zur. A big town where the inhabitants are channeling the Yemeni way of life - screaming things at tourists.

I found this experience rather depressing since I don't get any comments in Damascus - I once wondered, could I possibly be passing for a Syrian?

Clearly, not. I think the Damascenes are just jaded and used to seeing long, greasy hair.

But since I don't wear tight jeans that transform my package into some sort of Hedwig-esque mangina, I'll never pass for a local.

I travelled from Deir a-Zur down to the border of Iraq at Albu Kamal. I stopped off at the sights on the way back which were a yawn and a half. I also had two policemen trailing me the entire time. I eventually turned around and asked them, "are you mukhabarat (secret police)?" This is a question you shouldn't ask, and they weren't thrilled by it, but they said that they were just tourist police. Fine, but maybe you should introduce yourself before you start trailing my ass, fuckers. They ended up giving me a ride.

I continued onto Palymra - the ancient city. Maybe I'm a bit jaded or maybe I've exhausted all of the good sites in the Middle East, but again, a bit of a yawn-fest.

Then onto Krak des Chaveliers, the Crusader fort. This was actually pretty cool even though it was a bitch to get to. The best part were the local women wearing stilletos in the castle. Given, castle = made of stone, therefore castle + stilleto = broken ankle.

Finally, I ended up in a town named Hama known for its water-wheels. Clearly, I didn't travel 3 hours for these ancient masterpieces, but rather for the local delicacy called 'helawayat biljubn' (sweet with cheese) drenched in honey and topped off with a ball of ice cream. Not as good as the orgasm I had in Dubai from the Date/Marscapone gelato, but worth the trip to Hama, nonetheless.

Transportation was fierce, as usual. A combination of:

- micro-mini-buses transporting 8000 people and a few animals in one vehicle
- hitchhiking with old men who offered to mix a few Cola/whiskey's for the drive
- coach-sized buses full of puking burkahs
- and taxi rides with taxi drivers who never tire of asking inappropriate questions and trying to rape tourists of their hard-earned cash

Now I am back in Damascus.

University is in session tomorrow. Should be TFO.

Oh, Happy Ramadan! Bottoms up.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

toolbag

I like to think that I'm a relatively humorous person. Though, it's been brought to my attention that I'm not funny in Arabic. Apparently, dry humor doesn't come across. Maybe it's a cultural thing or maybe creativity isn't part of the Arab psyche. Afterall, stimulating games for children don't exist other than football and chasing tires. Chasing tires is a seriously a pasttime. Oh, and tying animal appendages to string and swinging them around really, really fast.

Monday, September 18, 2006

you said it sista

I know, I know. It hurts when people don't understand [that YOU don't understand that you're a raging queerface], I wish there was a support group or something.


Friday, September 15, 2006

smoker's cough

Moved into my flat this morning, after sharing a room with absolutely no ventilation with 3 Japanese tourists last night. On my way down to the lobby, I ran into Chris who I studied with in Yemen. He and his girlfriend were deported (they have the passport stamps to prove it) from Yemen because of Chris's drunken behavior and his girlfriend's supposed involvement in a spy ring. Only in Yemen.

Chris was a bit shakey at first, but after he had a few Johnny Walkers straight-up, he got his act together and we were able to carry on a normal conversation.

My flat is in some district. I don't even know where I am at the moment. But the two guys I live with are super nice and tomorrow we'll be begin an 'Arabic-only living environment', but not today. Both me and my flatmate are a bit ill and can't be bothered speaking backwards.

All hell seems to be breaking loose at the moment in Yemen because of the presidential elections and the amazing intelligence levels of that nation. Kidnappings, stampedes, and attempted bombings of oil refineries. This is definitely an 'I told you so situation'. This is what you get when you have a nation of uneducated drug-addicts.

In other news, there was an attempted bombing at the American Embassy in Damascus the other day. The man that set me up with my apartment was there when the shooting started. He didn't have an adjective to describe the situation though. I had to go to the Embassy myself to get some retarded documentation about my existence in Syria - there are bullet holes in the windows. Jacky corrected me and said they were glory holes. Which is quite possible considering everyone here is walking a very fine line between craving D or V.

I take my placement test on the 19th, then begin classes on the 24th through the entire month of Ramadan. Can't wait for the Ramadan antics to begin. I hope everyone's as bitchy and aggressive as they were in Egypt during this Holy Month. PS. I'm so not fasting.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

tap that - tap this!

Arrived in Syria. Totally unexpected environment here. Must start taking care of myself - ie. perhaps combing out the knots in my hair and moisturizing more rigorously. The people here are seriously fashionable and hot. In that Middle Eastern-sort-of-way. There be some ass that needs tapping.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

i thought it would be bigger

I made it to Dubai. Of course, its been a roller-coaster of 24 hours since I've been here.

Initial thoughts:

- I thought it would be bigger, more impressive, have more of a wow-factor.
- Is it always this hot?
- Do Arabs live here?
- Everyone lets me use their phone, which is nice.
- Everyone lets me use their toilet and they have toilet paper, which is nice.
- Why is there no public transportation?
- Where's Maria Bonita's Taco Shop? And is my margarita going to be ready when I arrive?

I went to Maria Bonita's Taco Shop for lunch yesterday. I think I scared my waiter when I hoovered every single thing on the table. But I was hungry, ya'll. It was DE-FUCKING-LICIOUS. They didn't have any margaritas, sadly. So, I consoled myself over REAL italian gelato next door. Hello, loving Dubai - Mexican and Gelato 2 feet away from each other!

I had one giant spatula full of Dark Chocolate/Orange and one of Date/Marzapan. I know it sounds nasty, but I seriously had about 24 orgasms in a period of 5 seconds. I wanted to rub the Date concotion all over my body and sing something loudly and out of tune.

There was a woman there who I started chatting up. She seemed to be a bit of a mess and therefore, must have a story to tell. I mean, look at me, I've clearly been around the block a dozen or so times.

She turned out to be from D.C., but her family is Iranian. She's in a state of flux at the moment, doens't know where her life is going, what she's doing, or why her bank account is empty. Don't know, maybe its the Louis Vuitton bag and Prada sunglasses? Whatever, work it, gurl.

I ended up spending the entire day with her, jet-setting around Dubai in a very Rosalyn-esque fashion. She didn't have a car, so we ended up hitchhiking! But hitchhiking here is more of a casual leaning over during lunch at a fabulous Meatpacking-esque area and asking the people at the next table if they wouldn't mind driving you in their latest edition Mercedes to the nearest taxi stand. I loved it.

We went to the Mall of the Emirates which has the indoor ski slope. Fierced it up outside the Burg al Arab hotel since we're not allowed inside. Went to a few art galleries where it was all about name-dropping, but unfortunately no dress-dropping. Actually, I was quite surprised by the progressiveness of the art: male prostitute photo series, living with HIV in Ethiopia, etc.

Then I finished off the night at the 100% Kylie show. Yeah, a Kylie Monogue impersonator for a full 2 hours of absolute gayness. So over the top. So Dubai.

I have to go check out of my youth hostel now, buy a samosa, and then meat Sabi for lunch by the 'World Trade Center'. Oh, Dubai. I think I like you.

Monday, September 11, 2006

oman in an itty-bitty nutshell

I've changed my flight from Sharjah to Damascus for 4 days earlier than planned. I'm saying مع السلامة to Oman a bit early because I'm bored and its a drain on my bank account. Must remember that I'm officially unemployed and if I'm not getting any bang for my buck, then really, I've got to go.

My thoughts:

on the Women in Oman: There's women? Seriously, it was the biggest sausage-fest I've been to. But when I did see an unveiled woman, I cringed. Granted, I only saw a sampling of about 10, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that they're not the most beautiful race on the planet. Whatever, I'll see you in hell.

on the Men in Oman: There's Omani men? When I first arrived in the country I wondered if Ahmed and his lazy-eyed father Hilal had somehow transported my body to Bangladesh or India without my knowing. It's a nation of immigrants looking to earn a strong currency for their weddings. What's with this universal urge to get married and mate? Anyway, I saw about 90% South Asians and 10% true Omanis. And the only way to tell the difference is the Omani's wear the white dishdash and the South Asians do the bobble-head thing when they talk.

on the Weather in Oman: Like an oven at Aushwitz.

on the Food in Oman: There's a restaurant that serves 'traditional, homecooked Omani food'. I was still served Asian dishes. Oman has such a strong history of immigrants that, like America, their food culture is a melting pot. But the food was good. It was a nice change from beans and bread in Yemen.

on being a Trannie in Oman: Trannies do exist in Oman. With drag rot, and all. Again, not the most beautiful creatures on Earth, but its hard to be fierce when you're wearing 8000 layers of clothing in 110 degree heat.

on getting Hot Beef Injections in Oman: Just pick your flavour. But don't be expecting a Super Size option. *snap

on Not being Asian or Arab in Oman: I've been a celebrity for the past two years. When I walk down the street everyone stares, says things, honks horns. I'm fierce, I know. But in Oman, the Omanis (the dozen that I saw) don't stare. They're very polite and respectful. It's the South Asians that stare and say shit. What the F? I feel like if you're an immigrant you don't have the license to be a douche. Do you?

on Turtles in Oman: Certainly the highlight of my trip at Ras al-Jinz (of which, if you pronounce incorrectly means 'Head of Sex' - whatever that means). I saw about 20 HUGE turtles (1 meter long perhaps) pooping out white, slimey eggs on the beach. It's a 6 hour process for the turtles, but since there were so many, I got to see all the steps in 1 hour. It was all very primal/TFO.

Oman has been checked off the list. In retrospect is was an alright experience, I'm glad I did it. I don't feel like I missed anything by spending only 5 days there. Now I'm off to Dubai. They have mexican restaurants there - I can't tell you how badly I be needing a chimichanga. Ay ay!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

wait, what?

I'm officially on my first leg and if its any indication of what's to come, this is going to be the most retarded period of my life.

I splurged on the $55 flight to the border town of Al-Ghaida in Yemen. Decided the extra $35 was worth it to not sit on the bus for 20 hours next to someone who would undoubtedly be obese and/or have a flatulence issue.

After having woken up late, having to listen to Ashit stutter out the same question for the 1000th time 'Are you going to America now?', and not realizing the ramifications of a 6am flight in one of the laziest nations in the world (why WOULDN'T there be a plethora of taxis available at 430am?), I had to run with my 30kg of stuff to the nearest interesection. But I'm not surprised by this chain of events as I'm never on time for a flight.

Made it to the airport. Received the 'why the fuck are you on THIS flight?' stare from every passenger. Had to kick someone out of my seat. Sat amongst a group of men that decided to scream at each other for the next 1.5 hours. Who knew people could be so hyper at 6am? Landed. Exited on to the tarmac (it's more glamourous this way, right?) to find snipers on the roof of the airport in the middle of what seriously looked like what I imagine Kabul to look like. Dude next to me at 'baggage claim' (if you can call a 4 foot trolley a Baggage Carousel) was puking into his Yemenia barf bag. Other dude next to me was dripping water from his asshole as the Arabs don't believe in toilet paper. And again, the obligatory 'How the fuck did you end up in THIS shithole?' stare.

Got a taxi to town. Found out there was no bus leaving today to Oman - tomorrow, 4pm (6 hour bus ride). No thanks! I need to get the show on the road, now! Found some dude going to the 'dangerous border town' where I could cross on foot and 'maybe' get a taxi on the other side.

Waited for 3 hours for the 3 hour bus ride in his bus shooting the shit about life in Yemen. Considering he asked me what language we speak in America, I decided to behave myself and not talk about sex or sex changes, as I've been prone to do lately.


So, we chilled and stared at all the passers-by. The women wore long, bright dresses that dragged on the disgusting pavement. And the men wore their skirts super long, too. Don't they want airflow up in that shiznit? I had my pants rolled up to my knees and the legs were WAY apart.

The drive to the border was seriously magical. Seriously. Ocean, cliffs, greenery. Then we got to an area that looked like the middle of Africa. Very lush.


Oh yeah, this is where I'm supposed to get out? In the jungle? Apparently so.

I put my bags down in what I later realize is a puddle of urine and get to work. I'm armed with copies of my passport, Yemeni and Omani visas, and the permission I was able to secure in the capital from the Ministry.

Nobody is happy to see me at the border check since an American = more work. Phone calls are made, the passport is held up to the light (?), and everyone else is taken care of before me. I'm eventually pulbished the stamp that I need to cross the border by foot after being subject to 100 questions about my personal life. But since I'm already over the entire situation, I pay some dude an astronomical price ($2.50) to drive me to the border. I get there and do the intial eye scan and realize that many a tear has been shed here. Oh, there goes a crying man! Fierce.

It's become quite obvious that there are NO taxis OR buses OR humans that don't look like they just had the organ-on-ice they were carrying for Aunt Khadija stolen from them.

I'm asked by the military, 'Where do you plan on sleeping?'

'Moi?! Have you not been alerted that I was on my way? Is there not a burkah-ed bitch in the back cooking up a scrumptous feast? Where am I sleeping? Don't be silly! In the best room, of course.'

Clearly, I've become spoiled by the Yemeni hospitality. Checked myself. And said, 'If I have to, I'll sleep on that rusty bench.'

The guards went through EVERY single piece of my luggage (even skidmarked undies for my week 'o liquid poo). I know it wasn't because of security; I know they were interested in what the stupid foreigner was carrying. They saw that I had a library of Arabic books and began quizzing me! Bastards! Was this the key to unlock the secret door that would let me out of this insanity? I complied. But there was no key to be had.

I answered the obligatory nationality, religion, why are you studying arabic questions. They asked if I wanted to pay $150 for a taxi to the nearest town. NO! And then they left!

I strategically positioned myself on my sleeping bag and king-sized pillow (I knew it would come in handy!) ready to stop any and all cars for a lift. They watched me for an hour groom, read, talk to the crying adults. And I think they realized this dude is in it for the long hall and is going to need some provisions.

I got invited inside for tea and biscuits. Got a dissertion on how great Islam is. So I asked him why he had a giant hole in his ear. Apparently, the Beduions stick 1/2" thick pieces of gold through their childrens' ears. Learned something.

Oh look! A car. See ya's!

Now's my chance to prey on the charity of Muslims. Bam. I scored a 3 hour ride with Ahmed and his lazy-eyed father Hilal who were not at all enthused by my dirty nails, the knot that had formed on the crown of my head from the wind, or my 1 sunburned arm from the ride there.

Again, I behaved myself. Didn't talk sex. And they didn't ask me if I was one of them. We stopped, took pictures together. It was all very bizarre and family-like. Minus my dad cradling a Coors Light (a Silver Bullet for those in the know) between his thighs and my mother's muffled tears.


They pointed out a few sights, got me a discount on my hotel room, and continued on.

Planes. Buses. Taxis. Tears. It wasn't fun. But it worked out.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

the plan

So this is the plan:

- Overland Yemen to Oman - Sept 7
- Sept 7 - Sept 15 - Oman
- Sept 15 - Sept 19 - UAE
- Sept 19 - Oct 19 - Syria
- Oct 19 - Nov 28 - Pakistan
- Nov 28 - Nov 30 - Cairo
- Nov 30 - Dec 4 - NYC
- Dec 4 - Dec 29 - Detroit
- Dec 29 - Jan 8 - NYC
- Jan 8 - Cairo

fire in the hole

Seeing as how I grew up in a medically-orientated househould and became accustomed to discussing stool samples and skin tags over holiday dinners (and on a daily basis), I was sure to email my mom during my lastest bought of the big D. (Diarrhea, for all you pervs)

I'm still blaming it on the fungus that dripped into my beans and eggs while the tube-man carried the meal to my table.

Anyway, my mom promptly replied to me with this email:

hope you feel better soon. i had mexican food in warren, nj friday nite and i was up at 1am trying to give birth to a mexican child on the toilet. so i know exactly what you mean.

Hello, fierce much?

Friday, September 01, 2006

i hate you so much right now

If today weren't Friday and if all the pharmacies weren't closed, I'd be chewing Valiums like my OCD grannie. (And my friend, Kate, sitting next to me just confirmed that she'd be doing the same).

Yemen is getting more retarded by the second. I'm sorry, do I need to hear about the virtues of Islam while I'm buying half a rotisserie chicken?

This morning I had a huge blow-out FOR Ashit (my creepy building mate). I don't know if I was just looking for someone to unleash my anger on, but I truly feel that my words and actions were justified.

I was living in the school that I was teaching at. The school moved yesterday because of problems with the management (which is all becoming very clear). But, Ashit and I had to stay behind for various reasons. Two random dudes of whom are affiliated with the management decided to sleep in the building last night as well. Fortunately, my door and windows locked. (And unfortunately for them, I had a handful of colon blowouts surely as a result of my tube-man dinner). In the morning, the two random, knife-wielders went out for breakfast and locked us in from the outside. Okay, not a problem. I climbed out of my second-story window and at the shock of our neighbors scaled a few walls, clung to a tree, and safely landed. Once I got to the door, I found that it was locked with a DIFFERENT padlock of which nobody (except the owner) had a key to. So. They intentially locked us in the building! When were they planning on letting us out?

Good thing the two random guys and the 'owner' (we'll call him the owner even though I know he's not the real owner) were loitering about. Regardless of customs, language, or religion, when you lock someone inside a building (hello, fire risk!) there's no need for polite formalities like, 'Hello, my name is Eric, and who might you be?' No. You get sassy Eric. 'Who locked this door? Unlock it now [fuckers]. You know we are inside. Shame on you.'

Of course I get the usual response of, "Oh, where are you from, are you Muslim?"

And of course they got my newly acquired response of, "None of your business [fuckers]"

I realize that my behavior spawned what was to come next, but their behavior is what spawned mine!

Ashit and I were going to leave the compound to run errands, one of which was to fill Ashit's propane tank for cooking. The owner was not having this. He said that the propane tank was his and that we were thieves for taking it. He took it from Ashit's hand, put it in the corner, and stood guard.

For all of you out there that are unsure as to whether I am going to stick up for you when times get rough, let this be an example of Eric Gone Wild. You get screaming, crazy-eyed Eric!

I marched over there and told him to get his ass away from the propane tank, that it was mine, and that if he wanted a receipt, I could produce one for him. He grabbed it out of my hand and threw it on the ground. Oh no you din't!

I took it back, gave it to Ashit, and told him to follow me out.

The two tag-alongs just stood there with their trademark, gormless, Yemeni stares. Once in a while I'd get that Middle Eastern hand signal of 'Wait' and they'd mutter 'papa'.

Papa?! This punk is your Papa? I told them that I don't care if he's President of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh. This is my tank!

Owner-man made the mistake of touching my arm one too many times. So I promptly told him not to touch me. So what did he do? He took his shoe off (which is the Middle Eastern - "let's take this outside"). I told him he was very strong and that I was very afraid of his jelly slip-on.

He then told me I was Isreali and a Jew. I had to move my family lineage up a few notches and rebutted with, 'No, my father is from Syria. I know what a Muslim is and YOU are not one. Your behavior is haram (like so forbidden!)"

Liar! No, you're a liar! Thief! No, you're thief!

Then, he called me a woman. So I told him that he was wearing a nice dress.

I got the last word! Na-na na na-na!!

I won the fucking tank!

Ashit didn't even say 'Thank You'.