Thursday, June 24, 2010

A word on culture vultures...

Last night I enjoyed a wonderful evening of poetry and oud playing where we looked at the works of two famous men, Omar al Khayyam and Abu Feras al Hamadani. Firstly I have to say that our discussion of Khayyam reinforced my earlier views of the poet but they also helped me glean a new found appreciation to the subtle meanings he was trying to convey. It was also wonderful to hear the poem sung, as Umm Kalthoum did, along with some brilliant oud playing.

Unfortunately evenings of culture such as this tend to attract the most idiotic of culture vultures and yesterday was no exception. Two Syrian girls had attended and as soon as they opened their mouths to speak I knew I didn't like them. The first was the kind of Syrian that insists on throwing in English phrases and words, with horribly contorted attempts at an Americanised accent, in her regular conversation. She then had the temerity to, in incredibly bad Arabic, explain the reasons for the decline in the appreciation of classical Arabic. She actually used the word 'coz, in the middle of her contribution to this discussion. This woman grew up in Syria and she's only lived in America for a few years whilst doing her degree...for Pete's sake.

The second one was by far the more dangerous kind of ignorant person. A pretty girl with a good figure, she was wearing a thin clinging dress which tended to expose a certain amount of cleavage when she leaned over the table to get biscuits, and I know for a fact that she was either wearing a thong, or no underwear, judging by the way the dress clung to her as she walked. The problem was that she kept pretending like she knew what she was talking about, or about how level headed she was, when she was anything but knowledgeable or cultured.

All this became apparent to me later when she went on a diatribe of how "our" Arab culture is today opposed to thought and philosophy. And of course she went on that favourite diatribe that people like her like to go on, the "establishment" that is frightening everyone with fire and brimstone. Yet she liked the fluffy sufism implied in the Rubaiyat even after, in the same breath, commending it on its materialism?!?! Really? She also made a point of closing her eyes with her hand clasping her head as the music played, as if she was entering a trance like state or deep concentration at the "profoundness" and "rich" cultural meaning of what she was listening to. What an idiot.

As everybody in the group introduced themselves, the two girls gleefully announced they were Syrian, what they were studying and so on. Tired yet cheerful at finishing my exams, and recognising the two rebels without a clue, I told the whole group that I was Syrian...but that I've been taking my pills and the doctor says I might get better soon. You could have heard a pin drop and I knew then and there that I was already on "clueless girl with shapely buttocks and no pants' " blacklist. Silly, silly girls.


Amira said...

Ah this made me laugh...but tell me where do they have such Arabic cultural evenings in London?

qunfuz said...

what you want to do is write a novel, Wassim. Seriously.

Maysaloon said...

Glad you enjoyed the post, I assure you the reality was far more amusing. Would you be interested in attending the next meet?

Speak sense man! Who would want to read the rants and raves of a lunatic like me?

Amira said...

Not the next meeting as I am not in the UK at the moment but certainly in September....I think its great that such things are taking place :)

Anonymous said...

Excuse me for being too curious, but just so I go to sleep less ignorant tonight (as the daft French expression goes), I would like to ask the following question: why is the second girl 'by far the more dangerous kind of ignorant person'?

Thank you.

Maysaloon said...

I'm sorry I hadn't replied to you. The girl is dangerous because she was quite pretty and also confident in her arrogance. People might choose not to correct her ignorance or challenge her ideas in the hope they might be able to sleep with her. The other danger is that photogenic people like her are perfect tools for news organisations that want to manipulate her.

Anonymous said...

Good reasons there Maysaloon, but it musn't be overlooked that ugly people are not hazard free themselves.

And that includes ugly people wearing underwear.

We must be vigilant, these are troubled times.