My last few posts might give the impression that I’ve been spending more time attempting to learn Arabic than taking advantage of Damascus’ tourism opportunities. This impression is for the most part correct. Its hard work, and all the museums and such things keep the same hours as the various government ministries I’m frequenting like a lost ghost.
However, among other cultural activities, I have visited the Sayyida Rouqqya mosque. Bulit in 1993 and the main Mosque (masjed in Arabic. Who even knew ‘mosque’ wasn’t Arabic?) in the Shia quarter of the old city, visiting it is a bit like being inside a Christmas decoration with rather more slightly hysterical people than will comfortably fit.
The highlight was probably the toilets. At the entrance black clad women fight over an assortment of flipflops and crocs, having of course taken off their own shoes.
On the way to the old Customs Khan I saw a large sign pointing to ‘The Cave Exhibition.’ Of course I followed it, and its slightly smaller sign friends through a souk selling bejeweled evening gowns and accessories. The Cave Exhibition had nothing to do with caves, and wasn’t an exhibition; it was a labyrinthine shop selling inlaid wooden boxes and table cloths. None the less it made me very happy. One of the various small stone rooms had, in addition to the standed carving and inlayed marble, a glass cupboard covered in stickers. The BEC get everywhere.
In any other news I’m spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to sort out my residency permit, which is currently in a bureaucratic limbo, along with my rental contract which I need to move the permit along. Hence spending so much time in internet cafes, emailing people for 3 minutes then trying to fill up the rest of my quarter hour.