A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

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

“you are very small for what you do”

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on December 18, 2007

My current work visa excites much more interest from Lebanon’s bureaucratic apparatus than my previous one. When I last “traveled” (which is what Lebanese say for trips outside the country), I learned that I ought to factor in more time to pass through emigration, not to mention the check-out line at the duty-free Virgin Megastore.

My visa includes not only the separate, laminated card I carry around, but also a full page of a handwritten description of my job in my US passport. Its shorter than a novel, longer than a letter, and rather poetic – and every Arabic-reading official to whom I give my passport devotes his full attention to it.

Or, perhaps I should say, devotes his full attention to it and my photograph. In the opinions of most Lebanese officials, what I do and what I look like are a poor match.

You know, the emigration official told me after flipping back and forth from photo to description and back again, you are very small for what you do.

In Arabic, “small” and “big” are used conversationally for “younger” and “older”. It works in English as well – kind of. For example, I am Sporty Diamond’s “big sister” and if there were three of us, the third sister could be the “little sister”. But a giggle escapes me every time I hear her described as my “small sister”.

It makes her sound like a miniature version – the portable, pocket-sized sister, suitable for travel and small apartments :D.

Anyway – I knew that the emigration official meant that I look young for what I do. But I am a bit on the small side, at least for Americans. And I’m pretty amused by the idea that I am also a pocket-sized professional.

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