Sunday, December 03, 2006

What's in a name?...

I have not been in the business of 'blogging' for long.. Less than a year, in fact..
It all started when my eldest daughter sent me a link to a blog she had come across, The Damascene Blog, and said that I might like its contents.. and she was right!..
Very quickly, I found myself exploring blogs that I thought might be interesting, and found myself getting involved in some heated discussions.. You see, I have some pretty strong views on certain issues, and I wanted to express them.. (I, for example, get very cross when people in Syria assume that expats like me left the Country because we have no love for it.. that our loyalty is, somehow, questionable.. that the decision to leave was easy, and driven by greed.. Some assume that because we live abroad, we are out of touch with what is happening withing the Country, and that we cannot serve it as well as those who are within it.. That really makes me cross... but I digress!..)
Aaanyway... I started making comments as 'anonymous', but did not want to be associated with comments from other 'anonymous' commentators, and started looking for a pseudonym.. and 'The Syrian Brit' was born, and the Blog followed later... I thought the name emphasizes the fact that I am, first and foremost, Syrian, and underlines how important that is to my psyche.. At the same time, it reflects my current position as a British citizen, living in this Country, contributing to it, and enjoying the rewards and benefits.. Nevertheless, I was not (and I still am not) entirely comfortable with it.. it is too impersonal.. too formal.. and, in these respects, nothing like me!..
I thought of several other options.. I could have called myself 'AJ' (my initials).. or 'Mr. J', as some colleagues call me at work.. but I thought that was too pretentious..
Because my first name sounds almost exactly like a particularly typical Irish name, some of my colleagues call me 'The Honorary Irishman'.. They assure me it is because of my name, and not any other attribute that the Irish are, allegedly, reputed for!!..
Some people at work call me 'Speedy Gonzales'.. because of the way I whiz around the Department when it is busy.. Others call me 'DisasterMaster'... because, often, as soon as I walk into a previously quiet Department, hell breaks loose, and seriously ill and badly injured patients come flooding in!!.. In fact, 'DisasterMaster' has become my 'official' middle name!..
I quite like these nicknames.. I think they are endearing, witty, and spontaneous... However, none of them really reflects who I actually am.. so I decided against using any of them as my cyberspace alter ego, and I was stuck with 'The Syrian Brit'.. and with time, I got used to that nickname.. until Naji picked up on it in a comment on Rime's Mosaics.. and now Rime also seems to suggest I should change it...
But as someone with a limited imagination, I am genuinely struggling to come up with a suitable alternative..
So, I now put it to all interested visitors of this blog.. Can you come up with a more personal, but still representative, nickname to replace 'The Syrian Brit'?.. or would you rather I keep it?..
Printable polite suggestions only, please!.. This is a 'family show', after all!..
(Those who want to be more personal or abusive, can e-mail me on the e-mail address that is listed on my Blogger profile...)


Dubai Jazz said...

Good morning Mr. J!
I quite honestly see nothing wrong with your pseudonym, I actually think it is cool. I was attracted to your Blog in the first place through the apparent paradox ‘Syrian Brit’!.
As far as suggestions are concerned, and though I’ve been following your Blog for quite a while, I can’t see through the words any other identity rather than the SB. But this is again something which I have to wait and see….
Anyway here’s a simple technique I made use of myself: I picked ‘dubai jazz’ as a pseudonym for my Blog because it combines both the name of the place where I live, and my favorite kind of music…..may be pretentious, but I like it!

Dubai Jazz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Omar said...

I think that our pseudo names, nicknames or aliases are not the issue as much as who we really are and what we really think.. and as far as I am concerned, I think that your contribution to cyberspace and to the Syrian websphere is priceless, and that your dual identity is a very important thing to cherish, regardless of what people think of the Brits.

having lived among the brits and known them myself, I find that they can be better that any other people in the world sometimes, and they have enough history and presence in our human heritage to have influence on anyone that lives among them.

so combine ths with another old and established cultural identity: the Syrian Identity, and you get a very rich mix of cultures and a very long history of thought..

in other words, I think that 'the Syrian Brit' speaks more about where you come from and gives more basis to understand you than speedy gonzales'... and that's what's blogging is all about (in my opinion) ... getting parts of yourself out on the web, where thoughts can flow without sensorship.

my two pennies ;-)

abufares said...

Dear Syrian Brit
I think your pseudonym is one of the greatest on the blogosphere. At least, I believe it's very fitting to your style of writing, your wit and your multi-faceted personality.
Anyone who thinks that all expats, or even most expats are not contributing to the welfare of the homeland is an outright idiot. There are a few expats who are more interested in displaying the dirty laundry of their country. While it's definetely our (everybody's) duty to talk about both positive and negative aspects of our present situation, we should seek a certain favorable balance and know exactly where to place the blame.
I tremendously enjoy your blog and make certain to check it everyday first thing in the morning for a new post.
What I read, after all, is a true indication of who I am.

Sam... said...

Mr. J.

I guess the other guys said enough....
short answer: S.B is a great one...Keep it..:)


Rime said...

Oh dear, I feel terrible now ... but when did I suggest you should change it? I must have been in the kind of mood I was in when I wrote the Welcome to Britain post, liking the Syrian part but not too crazy about the Brit part! :) It happens every now and then, and then it passes.

As everyone just said, I think we all like you just the way you are. Did Naji come up with a suggestion yet?

Now, in defense of the Irish, everyone else but the Brits seem to love them (their warmth, their generosity, etc.), so The Honorary Irishman (while I wouldn't recommend it as a pseudonym) would normally be a compliment I'm sure. (Remember, the Brits tend to hate the Irish, the French, the Spanish, the German, the Indians .... the list is long!) :)

H said...

Well who'd have thought that sending you that link would have led to the cyber-phenomenom that is The Syrian Brit?! :)

I think that "Syrian Brit" is the ideal psuedonym, and I fear that Naji has been out-numbered (unless he can come up with a better suggestion of course - that sounds like a challenge to me, Naji!).

I vote that SB remains unchanged. All those in favour say "Aye!".

The Syrian Brit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Syrian Brit said...

Wow.. I am overwhelmed!..
Thank you all for the humbling support and for the kind words of encouragement!.. I am truly flattered!..
Dubai Jazz, the paradox you refer to is exactly what attracted me to this particular pseudonym.. so thank you!.. and who said 'Dubai Jazz' was pretentious??..
Omar, you're a scholar and a gentleman!.. Thank you for the kind words.
Abu Fares, I am delighted that someone of your open-mindedness and transparency agrees with the pseudonym, and thank you for your interest in what I write.. It is really an honour and a pleasure..
Sam, welcome to my blog, and thank you for the support..
Rime, it was in your comment on my previous post that I sensed a touch of.. shall we say, disapproval.. If you allow me to digress a bit, I agree entirely with your comments about the Irish, and I do believe the nickname is meant as a compliment..
And h.. what can I say?.. It's all your 'fault'!!.. I think I could honestly say I couldn't (or wouldn't) have done it without you!.. Thank you very much, darling.. and thanks for the vote of confidence..
I must say, I am now a lot happier with the 'Syrian Brit' than I have ever been!.. So, the ball is in your court, Naji!.. and unless you can come up with something better that can sway the masses(!!!), 'The Syrian Brit' lives on!..

Abu Kareem said...


I agree, you can't change your name now. It is too late. It is like deciding when your son is 10 years old that you did not like the name you gave him after all. SB is a fully formed individual; it IS you and it cannot be otherwise.

Dubai Jazz said...

Dear Syrian Brit, Glad that you have restored your faith in the nickname!

I have actually made a comment regarding British people earlier in this post, and how they are perceived here in the Gulf, but then I erased it thinking that it wouldn't go down well with the context of your questionnaire.

While I admit that the majority of Brits are well-mannered people, there is something about Dubai, be it the discriminatory working environment or all the kindred conditions, something that makes them different: spoiled, arrogant, stuffy, grumpy. That's why I would think twice before associating myself with anything British in this town. I think I wouldn't even dream of blending within their 'velvet society'!

You may kindly see for yourself how their response to a simple restaurant review in one of the local newspaper.

I am sure things in the Uk are quite different, aren't they?

The Syrian Brit said...

Abu Kareem,
Thank you for your support. Good to hear from you..

Dubai Jazz,
I am glad you approve.. Thank you for your support..
Any society has individuals in it who are arrogant, grumpy, bigotted, or simply abnoxious.. But also, there are those who are honest, down-to-Earth, hardworking and sincere.. I do have a few British friends who would do absolutely anything for me and for my family.. I had the pleasure a few years ago of meeting Dr. Pauline Cutting, who had spent half of her professional life in Lebanon helping the poor and dispossessed (now she works as a Consultant in Emergency Medicine in North Wales).. Her husband, also a doctor, has been actively persecuted for his outspoken views about the Palestinian human crisis.. and there are countless other examples about British people doing unbelievable deeds to help their fellow human beings across the Globe.. You just cannot generalise.. You would be wrong to..
I think it is worth remembering that it is the vocal, loud-mouthed idiots who make most of the noise, while the silent hardworking, self-effacing individuals just go about their business silently...
Thank you for your comments, and for your ongoing support..

Fares said...

Down with Assad