Today recorded an unusually sharp rise in my normally ânormalâ stress levels due to unforeseen and unnecessary feuds with family and loved onesâ¦oh yeah, and a series of trips to the market to buy some necessary items for my new houseâ¦
Of course, ânormalâ by Syrian standards is different from any other international ânormalâ standardâ¦.you see, here in Syria, we like do things differentlyâ¦All this has put me in the mood to inflict yet another totally unnecessary article upon youâ¦..following, is a typical account of the daily Syrian stress cycleâ¦.
Naturally, no day could start here without the usual rude awakening, administered by a semi-hysterical shouting female (wife/mother/sister) â¦..yes, mornings wouldnât be the same if they didnât begin with a shrill banshee call to arms(âwake up youâre late againâ), with background music generously supplied by rowdy neighbors and street vendors of all denominationsâ¦.
After making the arduous ascent up from a stuffy hot bed, damp with a nights worth of summer sweat, a ritual trip to the bathroom, sees you no fresher than you were when you first got upâ¦. Apparently, the intermittent(*1) 8 hours or so of sleep that youâve just had last night, were just not sufficient to wash away yesterdays vicious onslaught of stress, cigarettes, shouting, arguing and staying up till 4a.m watching the same news on different channels.
Breakfast is a non essential meal in Syria, but you couldnât guess that by the sight of over weight, belly clad men. However, itâs more than made up for at lunch and supper.
So lets say, at the start of the day, stress levels are at a nominal 15%.
Your decent into the real world is where the real challenge beginsâ¦.simply by stepping out of the front door of your home, and leaving that secure all encasing fortress, you unleash all the undesirable stress initiating events that Syria has to offerâ¦.
Traveling to work is the first serious hazard that youâll encounter. The normal working man takes the mini bus(servees) to work, or possibly a taxi if he can afford it.(*2) Normal stress procedure for the duration of this unholy trip include, but are not limited to, clinically insane and suicidal drivers, loud Bedouin music, smelly/shifty/nervous co-passengers, over crowding, and of course frequent traffic accidents.
Those whom God has endowed with wealth(*3), will be driving their cars to workâ¦..an exercise no less stressful than taking public transportationâ¦stress inducing incidents will normally include public transport drivers, other drivers, pot holes, road bumps, traffic police(*4), incessant and abusive usage of car horns, and the lack of any parking space when arriving at the chosen destination.
Average stress levels will have risen to about 25% at this point.
Whereas standard work conditions throughout Syria will differ in nature and severity according to profession(*5), they all have certain, stress manufacturing components in common. These will invariably include obnoxious customers, idiotic/scheming co-workers/staff, corrupt government officials, extended price haggling, and a hot and crowded workplace.
Surviving the daily bread earning ritual, will add another 40% bonus to your stress levels, bringing the grand total to 65%. A hectic commute back from work, will add a further 10%, picking up groceries/extended family members along the way or doing errands for an ungrateful house hold will append the total levels with another 10%, bringing it up to 75%.
Provided that your grand, triumphant return to your home/bastion goes unimpeded while climbing up the stairs by falling household items/objects/kids courtesy of your neighbors, you may deduct 10% from the overall score for having finally made it back safely to the caveâ¦..not so fast, upon opening and making passage into your home, the unflattering greetings of communal shouting, offensive cooking odors and recrimination for deeds not done bestowed upon you by irate female/juvenile members of your household erase whatever deduction in stress you have just earnedâ¦back to 75%.
A large, but strangely unsatisfying meal soon ensues, enjoyment of this daily concoction of beverage served up by a female member of your household will be spoilt by reminiscing over the dayâs events.
The nightly ritual of residing on your favorite couch, interrupted by frequent bouts of tea drinking and water melon/pistachio consumption, watching the news on several different satellite channels now begins, and continues into the wee hours of the morning. Other family members will also be present to an extent, brooding visibly in an attempt to persuade you to switch to a soap opera, video clip or religious program that they have already seen, but want to watch again.
At this point, an average of 20% is added to your stress factor, due to the frustrating/disturbing/disgusting news(*6) and current affairs program that you have just seen on Al Jazeera vividly depicting Arabs and Muslims from different parts of the world being slaughtered, and the futile and weak official Arab and global response.
The total now is a dangerously high 95%â¦..
Despite the unusually high stress levels, no Syrianâs day would be complete without engaging in a humungous late supperâ¦.usually leftovers garnished with supplemental items such as jebneh, zeitoun, ziet nâ zatar, makdous and salata*â¦.the adventurous may even have some shingleeshâ¦(*7)
Gastrointestinal disturbance, and an absurd bedtime of 3a.m+, add another 10% to stress levels. The final, grand total for a typical Syrianâs daily stress level is 105%!!!!
And thatâs just a normal working day. A day packed with fun filled and joy bringing wholesome events like the one I had today, could see that measurement rise to 125%.(*8)
So, at the end of this informative and rich article illustrating daily life in Syria, can you really be surprised that most Syrians die of a heart attack in their fifties? Personally, Iâm surprised they live that long!
*1- usually a good nightâs sleep in Syria is withheld from the aspiring hopeful due to a large dosage of mosquitoes, wedding parties, noisy neighbors, or all of the above.
*2- cars are still regarded as a luxury item in Syria, and not as a means of transportation
*3- âthose whom God has endowed with wealthâ is a popular call at wedding parties for people who have cars to go and fetch the bride and her consort to the party.
* 4- traffic police: looking to make their first pay out of the day(istiftaheyeh)
*5- most work in Syria is limited to either civil servant, or small shop owner.
*6- all adult male Syrians watch the news and follow world affairs closely, consequently they are all experts in politics, theology, culture, economics and kebab barbecuing
*7- in order they are: cheese, olives, origanum n oil, squished aubergine, salad and some sort of rotting dairy product.
* 8- The record for total daily stress levels is held my a mister Souheil Hadry(Abo Abdo) of Aleppo, Syria. Official measurements indicate a reading of 157%. Sadly, mister Souheil passed away shortly afterwards from complications arising from hernia, and heart attack.