A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

two minutes.

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on October 26, 2006

an old car in the old cityThe first time I heard the expression “two minutes” I was in Damascus, on my way to meet friends for a nice game of shidda (I’m a terrible player, thanks to my total lack of strategic sense but I happily play on, losing cheerfully because I love the game) at Haretna. By “on the way” I mean “on the Mezzeh Autostrade” – i.e., at least twenty minutes in nighttime traffic. When I heard “habibti I will be there in two minutes”, I panicked.

Twenty two minutes later, having pled my case incessantly to the cab driver and run from Bab Touma to the cafe, I arrived, breathless and utterly askew, gasping my friend’s name to the maitre d’. he smiled and said: oh yes – she’ll be here in half an hour.

Two minutes – to an English speaker it sounds intimidatingly precise, unlike the much more rounded (and to us, looser) five. In Arabic, though, two minutes IS five minutes – or perhaps ten, if by ten we really mean ten plus twenty.

I’m smiling as I write this, because I am waiting for a friend’s return call. twenty minutes ago, I called and heard: “I will call you right back! in two minutes!” I know what this means, even though we are both currently in the states. I am smiling because “two minutes” brought me back to Damascus, and because “two minutes” means I still have plenty of time.

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3 Responses to “two minutes.”

  1. intlxpatr said

    Bs deqiqa! Bs deqiqa!

  2. Rami said

    hi… first you didn’t say any thing about this pic………???
    i used to travel with this car in whol syria.. for info this car is pontiac made in 1952.
    but i’m confiused because in your story you didn’t say anything about it (and i thoght that pic is your subjet)
    peac

  3. Dear Rami,

    As you no doubt realized, this was my very first post, so it was a definite work-in-progress. The photograph was just one I took while showing a friend around the old city in March 2006. The only connection between it and the “two minutes” subject was the location!

    I think (hope!) my more recent posts do a better job of connection subject and image 🙂 but … still a work in progress!

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