– 6 hours of Arabic a day

I’m back to my ordinary surroundings and slightly startled to realize I felt more Arab in Syria for five weeks than I have living in the Gulf for the last four years.

Part of it is that Doha is such a multiethnic capital. I’m back to being just one in a sea of South Asians – not like Damascus where I often felt like the only brown person for kilometers. In such multiethnic places English runs the show.

Another part of it is that I am out of class and no longer around Arabic speakers like my teacher who insisted even on explaining the finer points of grammar to us via Arabic.

I’m not walking everywhere either as I did just a week ago and could see all the women in their various interpertations of hijab, so perhaps all the chrome and glass makes it feel more generic.

Dissecting it doesn’t make it any easier to avoid the honest truth of why I went to Syria in the first place: Arabic is hard to find here and I’ve got to be inventive if I want to keep making progress.

Luckily I don’t have to look very far. At a meeting yesterday when I said I wanted to do as much as I could in Arabic, the dear woman obligied. And it was really wonderful to hear and speak it again after two days of English.

Now to find a tutor…