I don’t have AIDS Registering for the University of Damascus requires an AIDS test. Entering a small room drenched in that clinical fluorescent light which is ubiquitous in the country, two nurses in hijab were waiting to take my blood. The following day, the crowd which is assembled to pick-up the results is madness. For half an hour, there was just a scrum of people passing their tickets forward towards a hapless worker manning the window. People from all over the world, although notably Indonesia & Iraq, were trying to obtain their results which would allow them to stay in the country. Eventually someone took control, calling out names and distributing the sheets of paper certifying the absence of the HIV virus. With all the talk of biometric identification in the UK, the cynical side of me questioned whether the government also keep a record of your DNA. Already, wherever you travel, you are required to give your passport details, along with the names of your father & mother. Whilst buying a Syrian SIM card, I was required to leave an imprint of my thumb-print. Is this data being accumulated for the country’s many bureaucrats to file through? I wonder what other information will be required during my stay; waist size, favourite colour…?

I don’t have AIDS

Registering for the University of Damascus requires an AIDS test. Entering a small room drenched in that clinical fluorescent light which is ubiquitous in the country, two nurses in hijab were waiting to take my blood.

The following day, the crowd which is assembled to pick-up the results is madness. For half an hour, there was just a scrum of people passing their tickets forward towards a hapless worker manning the window. People from all over the world, although notably Indonesia & Iraq, were trying to obtain their results which would allow them to stay in the country. Eventually someone took control, calling out names and distributing the sheets of paper certifying the absence of the HIV virus.

With all the talk of biometric identification in the UK, the cynical side of me questioned whether the government also keep a record of your DNA. Already, wherever you travel, you are required to give your passport details, along with the names of your father & mother. Whilst buying a Syrian SIM card, I was required to leave an imprint of my thumb-print. Is this data being accumulated for the country’s many bureaucrats to file through? I wonder what other information will be required during my stay; waist size, favourite colour…?