Walking in a winter wonderland – Sunday

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.’

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About adventuresinarabic

I'm studying Arabic in Damascus, living through the Arab Spring and blogging about my experiences hear.
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8 Responses to Walking in a winter wonderland – Sunday

  1. Henry says:

    Good to see some photos! We’ve had our share of snow here in Wales too, though I expect the snow covered mosques look more picturesque than Aber could ever manage. Had the ACC christmas meal last night…food on the pier was much better than last years, and had a good night in town before crashing at Chris’. Well done in your exams btw..

    Don’t think you missed a great deal on the Grand Circle, though you would probably appreciate the main streamway passage. Carno this weekend if it doesn’t get too cold. Have you got any future caving trips planned? Hope you get the flat dry soon :s

    • oliinarabic says:

      Mate, the food could hardly have been worse than last years. If you trashed my house…the photos arnt mine; i dont have a camra battery hear and its killing me inside. just been over to henry patton.org but i see no photos of aber in the snow. the mulled wine looks really cool though, but i don’t think i understand the concept of ‘dry red wine.’ like powdered stuff? Did you make it to Abers xmas market and on to the beach in the snow the day after mine and megs infamous darran trip? snows great in unexpected places. I’ve made my blog snow! look. you should to.

      You see, if the Grand Circal had been amazing we’d have gone and done it again, but now i’m going to have to make some new caving friends to do it with. or live without doing this ‘classic route.’ you were only uninspired cus you didn’t have me pointing out the good bits. I need to engage with my Fusha ‘vocabulary’ in time for my exams (new years day, jan second, jan 3rd and 4th. Whats that about?) but after that I’m going to dump the Mahad which will make it easyer for me to do stuff over the Lebanease weekend. Ie go caving. Lebanons great for my arabic as well. they just love bad arabic in a way that damascus dosn’t.

      My flat is still fucking baltic, as Tony from reading would put it. If I hear my landlord say Bukra (tomorrow) one more time… I owe him lots of rent thouh and i’m not paying unless my sobia works. I’ve been hiding at Paul and Ramis, which is reasonably walm but has no ellectricity. the three of us have been in bed, practicing arabic, singing to each other, reciting poetry by candel light, wishing we were doing it all with a spechial someone rather than wasting the romance and ocasionally going to buy more falafal.

      hows life n stuff?

  2. Henry says:

    Snow photos have been uploaded. It’s all melting now, but nice while it lasted. Dry red wine just tastes dry – not literally dry. The thing about Aggy is there are no good bits – its mostly streamway that’s covered in slime. The size of it is perhaps the most impressive thing. Rich enjoyed the southern streamway, but I didn’t get it, just like I don’t get why you both like Daren entrance. I’ll do it again, but only if I can photograph down in Trafalgar series.
    Life is ok, Meg’s left for Rome, and i’m here in aber waiting for the snow to melt so i can go home too. Carno trip got postponed cos of the weather which was a bit crap, but couldn’t face the ballache of potentially getting hypothermia. Good luck with your exams – I’ll be in Italy then. We’ll try and book flights to visit you in the New Year!

    • oliinarabic says:

      Humm. that dry red wine question was kind of an idiot moment wasn’t it? I’ll check out your photos sometime i’ve got a better conection.
      If you’d been brought up to be as good at finding the thing you particualy enjoyed as i was you’d have fond a good bit. Hypothermia sucks man. but then so do canceled trips.
      If Megs feeling skint the cheep way to get to Damascus is a flight to Istanbull then a (admitedly 24hr) bus to Damascus. Apparently the tickets more expensive if you buy it on the Turkish side but in Damascus its a mear 24 quid return.
      Have an amazing time in Italy. Doing the family thing? How long you theire for? your going to have so much fun.

  3. wormster says:

    Hey you,

    There’s a bout 8-10 inches of snow on Mendip atm, its lurvley, all picturesque ‘n stuff.
    Stumpy and I went for a walk up the gorge yesterday, taking loadsa photos, David Bailey eat your heart out!
    Looks like the Arab world finds it hard to cope with the cold wet stuff, I remember seeing gulf arabs who could drive well in sand being absolutley stumped by a few inches of rain, car carnage all over the place, but with the usual “Inish Allah” attitude!!

    Take care and keep dry and warm.

    Stumpy and Wormster

  4. Rosie says:

    All this talk of visiting you is making me ponderous yet excited – when are you there until again?

    I am way behind on your blog, I look away for a week or so and you suddenly become Mrs Prolific! However, I am going to use it as a treat to spur me on during my essay-writing tomorrow : ) I will imagine you talking it all sitting on the stairs in our old flat and it will make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

    Missing you still, but glad you are having what seems to be a fantastic adventure

    XXX

    • oliinarabic says:

      Wot! I wrote you a reply, wheres it gone? It told you how much I loved you and asked if you rembered the time i fell off the fridge in the kitchen? I wished you good luck with your essays, though it occures to me that i didn’t tell you how intellegent and stuff you are. should have done that. I’m sure you’ll right great ones

      I then went on to tell you about my happy fantasy in which you get a job with your grade A Tefol cert teaching English hear and we live together and have adventures, before telling you I wont be moving back to europe untill feb 2012 at the soonist and recounting the cheep way to get to damascus (see mesage to henry). I then went on to say I want to hear about your life when you get the chance to fill me in on it. Happy christmas Habibi

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