Syrian Independence Day

عصر غريب وجيل اغرب في برهة من الأزل. كنت أعبر في دهاليز الزمان وسمعت خبرا “ما كان يوما” في الحسبان

أنا… انا فخر الأمم، أنا مجد الحضارات، أنا عز الانسان أنا التاريخ.. صرت طي النسيان وممن؟ من أحفادي من جيل هذا العصر وهذا الأوان

لا عجب أني ارى في عيونكم الحسرة والهوان… فكيف تهوي امة كان لها كل هذا المجد وهذا الشان

الا اذا انسيت عظمة تاريخها ولهيت بالفتات من موائد الأمم… اتيتكم الليلة أحمل عبق الماضي…أحمل أمجادكم اقرأها سطورا مشرقة من هذا الكتاب. الكتاب الي كانت صفحاته مزقت واغرقت بالظلام

كتاب تاريخ الشام شموسا تنير الأيام

 

انا الشعب..انا بردى … انا الفيجة الّي شربوا منّا كا اللّي شفتوّن , انا قاسيون الشامس والغوطة الخضرا…مرق على راسي يوناني, وروماني, وعثمنلي, وفرنساوي….انا بقيت وهنّي يلّي راحوا, .. حضارتي كانت الأساس لكل شي عملوه…و كتير منها عم تزين متاحفن و بلادن…بس اجا الوقت ليعرفوا انو الشام ما بتنضام.. والّي الو ماض ما بموت …

باطل علينا وين كنّا و وين صرنا….وينك يا شام زمان

…وينك يا زمان

مقطع من مسرحية تأليف صديقي طلال الصفدي

Noura’s Eid Post

I want to dedicate this post to Noura. At first I did not want to write “yet another Eid post”, but we all love and support Noura and let’s face it, long distance sucks! So below is a long and detailed account of everything I ate during my stay in Damascus.

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I went to Damascus with really one thing in mind: to eat. I missed food. I didn’t care wether or not the food was healthy. It is home made food, with love from my grandma and mom. Except for shawerma of course, but it’s shawermaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

My grandma 7ayati spends most of the day cooking one meal. She goes into the kitchen at around 10 AM and we don’t get to it till 4:30 PM. But trust me when I say it’s the best dish you’d eat in your life! So for the first day I was treated to “shei5 el me7shi” (شيخ المحشي) which I was told was called “ma5shi” (مخشي) by Palestinians (correct me if I am wrong). For dinner we had whatever was in the house – cheese, eggs, shankleesh, and whatever smells weird and has been in the cupboard since last year.

The next day we were invited for breakfast at mom’s friend’s house. Too bad I was fasting because I missed out on “fatteh”. If you know me, this is without a doubt the most sacred meal to me. So not eating fatteh would hopefully be accepted as a sacrifice. But of course, if it were only fatteh. No no. They had to have everything that makes you fart for ages – fool mdammas, fool blaban, makdoos, some weird thing I tried to avoid and could swear was moving, and of course tabbouleh, fattoush o debes and that horrible creation called mtabbal.

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But I didn’t eat any of that. I busied myself by taking photos of the food.

Then I told mom to replicate that breakfast for iftar. I couldn’t say which tasted better since I didn’t have a reference, but eating fatteh (which I only eat in Damascus) made me a very happy man.

The next day my dad decided we would eat breakfast outside, much to my resentment. So that meal was totally forgettable and I do not wish to discuss it further. As an apology, my dad took me and sis to the Old City, where I usually spend my time in summers anyway.

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I love the Old City. It’s simply a brilliant spot of land. You could literally hear the walls and cobblestones talking to you. Though it was a bit quiet with most stores closed for Eid, بياعين الفستق remained open and I was obliged to take samples until I decided on the best, and I let my sister handle the price negotiations. No one says no to nice sweet girls, and ياما تحت السواهي دواهي (if this is the last post you read from me, I love you all).

At night we walked arround the Qassa3 area, one of the most beautiful spots in Damascus and a festive place. As a Christian community, everyone decorates their homes – interior and exterior – with a wonderful display of lights to celebrate Christmas and New Year. When I was there only a few were up, but I am sure by now everyone there is in FalalalalaLand.

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Then I had to invite Qabbani, who was in town, for breakfast. Actually he invited himself but then I invited him after his invitations to feel that I have a word in this LOL! So he came over and he had to eat from MY fatteh el 7aywan, bas mashi bmoon. So for revenge I had mom force him to eat lots of ma3mool and weird Arabic sweets which names I cannot be bothered to remember. They all taste the same to me – mushy sugar and nuts down my esophagus.

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Then came the big meal.

Kibbeh.

وما ادراك ما الكبة 

There is absolutely nothing more wonderful than have the whole family eating kibbeh next to the صوبية. And a pot of tea slowly being brewed on it and socks  hanging around so they can dry before we wear them to bed.

But it wasn’t tea, it seemed. It was ميرامية. I craved some مته right then but I’m the only one in the family with that acquired taste. So since mom doesn’t approve, it stays out. *sniffles*

I stuffed my suitcase with whatever food I could carry – roughly 6 kilos of food. I consumed half of them within a couple of days in Dubai and saved the rest for a rainy day.

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Pilgrim in Jordan – Amman

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. – Khalil Gibran

 

You may wonder, what does a pilgrimage have to do with Jordan? To say that my trip was a journey undermines its purpose. A journey may have little or no motif that lays the foundation on which the traveler directs his step.

I traveled to Jordan on a pilgrimage; the reasons I shall keep to myself. Through this reading (and the following posts), I hope you understand the purpose of my travels.

My arrival in Amman has been greeted with frowns – which I expected – and a 20 minute “interview” at the airport, given I am the only Syrian on the plane who suspiciously arrived when a bomb blew off in Damascus that very day. I have been alerted that such things are standard procedures, but I did not expect that I had to narrate my life’s story to the head of security for entertainment in an attempt to convince him I came to Jordan for tourism and not running away from serving the Syrian military.

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Amman is a beautiful city. Some of you might be raising eyebrows (I know some of my friends in Dubai did when I told them where I was going), but I am an honest person and I can honestly say I loved Amman.

I traveled more or less everywhere – from Jabal al Taj to Al Hussein Gardens. My soul, however, found its place in downtown Amman – specifically where Knafet 7abeeba is (yes yes I know, food!). The simplicity of the place won me over the snobbish Abdoun area (which I admit, is a great place, but I don’t like such “high class” regions in a city) and seeing 7afartal, kids running about, people selling all sorts of stuff and men group-hollering and whistling at ladies next to a mosque is something you can’t not be amused about.

Amman is much cleaner than Damascus – I admit – and is overall more “higher class” (arqa). However, the differences in social class is much more noticeable in Amman. Whereas in Damascus you could travel from the richest areas to the Old City without much of a change in scenery (bar the number of people per square meter and pollution), in Amman there is a stark contrast in the quality of the roads, houses (and number of houses) as well as the types of cafes and people – how they dress, act and live.

The constant factor in Amman though, is cabs :D Anything that can be physically or verbally done against someone’s genitals can be learned from cab drivers.

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It felt great to smell clean air. Clean? Yes clean. No dust, no humidity… a chilling, crisp breeze with clouds hung low. I miss the clouds, the blue sky, the clean fresh air – especially after the rain. The smell of the grass and the trees, and the wind, even if it is in downtown mixed with car fumes.

Amman was the start of my pilgrimage. This is just a post of many to come – the Dead Sea, Amman again, and the grand finale of Petra and Rum. So stay tuned, and enjoy the Amman’s photos on my photo blog (I will upload the rest when the appropriate post is published!)

PS: for a brief cynical overview of the whole trip, check out Hamza’s post