I just returned from a wonderful dinner with S, who graciously took me to Fakher al-Din. We shared about 700 appitezers, including the exploding chicken balls. Yum. It was really nice to talk about research and feel no sense of suspicion. Our work is different enough that she teaches me a lot, but it's similar enough that what she does really interests me, and I hope vice versa.
I've been away from here for almost 2 years, and I'm amazed at the changes to the landscape. First off, the amount of construction is incredible. There are a trillion new buildings, and the downtown redevelopment projects seem well underway, for better or worse. The only indication I see of the depressed economy are lots and lots of for sale signs in the windows of darkened apartments. I haven't talked in depth with any of my peeps from east 3mman, so stay tuned. I see that gasoline is very expensive, and I assume this hits taxi drivers pretty hard. Perhaps most weird, there are street signs everywhere! M.H. informed me that 3mman is being GISed, and thus the street signs are part of that undertaking. Still, it's striking to me.
Today I walked to the Suq as-Sultan, and was happy to see that my favorite bakery was open on a Friday. I purchased several of the z3tyr/jubna rolls that I love, and I've already consumed 3 of them. Tomorrow to the Balid, and then to begin seeing families here. I'm excited, and terrified. I know I won't sleep for the next 2 weeks, and right now while I'm jet lagged, I'm pretty protective of my rest. But, no more of that. There is no time.