Its been far walmer and dryer than it should have been and Syrias running out of water. the plumbing’s fine in the mornings, but not to be taken for granted after midday. when i moved into my house the was enough water to run the washing machine until 2pm. now if your washing isn’t in it by 9am it ain’t getting done. In the old city the waters been randomly switching from drinkable to less drinkable. Jeramana has had days on end with no water at all. the farmers arn’t happy either.
consequently a prayer drive was organized. throughout Damascus last Fridays prayers begged for rain. some of us think the faithful might have over done it slightly; Damascus is under about 4cm of snow.
it was raining stair rods on my way to the Mahad. at the bus stop i saw what looked like snowflakes mixed in with the water. by the time I’d got to the university it was snowing. by the time I got to the Mahad it had settled. After the break we discovered that an inability to function in snow is something Syria and the UK have in common. the director ran up and down the corridor yelling at us to ‘Go home! Don’t drive!'(minor exaggeration-he wasn’t running). So I did.
I thought that after Montreal snow had lost its ability to dissolve me back into a state of wonder. But In Montreal I’d never seen snow covered palm trees. Never seen Ottoman mosques with their domes under snow. As cool as Montreal is its not got Roman civic architecture standing around awaiting a sprinkling. All Damascus has a party atmosphere. I was invited to huddle round a fire and roast chestnuts with some street sellers out of a Middle Eastern Dickens tale. Hajabies, is a word created by combining Hijab (Islamic clothing) and habibi, the Arabic for darling, and used for girls in tight jeans, full makeup and headscarfs, threw snowballs at each other and tangerines peeped out from beneath the snow.
By the time I made it back to the Old City proper it had started raining and the snow was dissolving. never the less I stood on my roof and looked at the snow covered Jebel Qussan and the remnants of snow on the roofs. Then I wandered round Dimasq attempting, and eventually succeeding, in buying a coat. Shopping was enlivened by the frequent electricity cutouts and the cheers as the generators kicked in. the are just too many people using heaters for the city to handle. By the time I was home the rain had turned back into snow.
On the downside the temperature inside my room is exactly the same as it is outside. We’ve all been huddled listening to music in Hishams room in the dark-hes got an electric heater. Did I mention Damascus’ infrastructures shit? We’re going to install Sobahs bukra, inshalla. Sobahs, diasle stoves of great complexity, sound mildly terrafing. We’ve already put the boys in. This involves putting the chimney pipe through a small hole in the ceiling and connecting it to the stove. As the ceiling is about 4 meters high this is a big game and we got ash all over the entire house. As Sophia and I cleaned we danced to the music in our heads to keep warm, creating a percussion symphony with the beat of out feet, drumming against the fridge and shaking keys. we’re having a lot of sub zero fun, though the is a bit of me thats aware that novelty is always a large part of Sub Zero fun. we’re now all going off to Abu Georges, my faverout bar, because it should be warm.
I’m whereing my caving wellys. The only other person in Damascus with dry feet has plastic bags in their shoes. Oh yeah!
POST SCRIPT-Not Really Early Enough, Monday Morning.
As we spilled out of Ninar I watched Rami making a snowball with approval; throwing things, especially cold wet things, at Paul is always to be encouraged. I don’t think I’ve been quite so surprised to be hit by a flying object in my whole life as i was when Ramis snowball connected with my chest. I chucked my bag at Paul, and Rami and I, the youngest of the group, chased each other up Straight Street (mentioned in the bible), scraping snow off the cars and flinging it at each other. Rami managed a direct hit to my face as Paul advanced, having swapped my bag for a lump of snow. it ended up down the back of Ramis neck. eventually a cold, wet, bedraggled Rami called game over and Sophia and I ran all the way down Sharia Bab Toma to get shwama, me jumping in all the puddles and us both KaKaing like Aberystwyth seagulls. We warmed up again back in the house listening to music, me nagging Rami to borrow my socks, Paul supplying us all with beer. As Hisham put it when I asked ‘keif hyat’ (hows life) ‘its not perfect…its more than perfect.’