For me life continues. However I watched some men go into a shack next to my block of flats, pull out the collection of rugs and blankets that the family living there have instead of furniture, and destroy the building. The traditionally dressed, unkempt women held their children and argued with the demolition squad, their men folk looked helpless. It’s a big bad world hear in the Global South. These people had darker skin than the average Syrian and heaver facial features; I recon they were from Iraq. My neighbours and I went out onto our balconies, watched, then got on with our life.
My students rather liked Bashar’s speech, mainly because they felt he’d fucked it up. One of them said five of his friends had stopped supporting the regime as a result of it. I’m interested by their perception of media here, Al Arabya is owned by a scion of the house of Saud and my students don’t trust it. Opinion about Al Jazeera is divided. Apparently their offices here have a big picture of Bashar on them, and some see this as signs that they’re not neutral. Others recon that Al Jazeera is exaggerating to boost the ratings. Today the whole web is working fine, apart from Al Jazeera English. Coincidence? When stuff first started happening hear my students would talk about it to me, but not to each other. Their families are from the same part of Syria, they all know each other outside of the classroom and they were all scared of each other. Now though they’ll happily chat about how they didn’t go out to demonstrate their support.
While my students are less scared than they were, the foreigners are worried. A journalist I know was lightly beaten up and had his camera stolen, but he was being stupid, going right up to people and taking photos. More worrying are the tales of visa problems. I met some one who comes from a country that can buy visas at the airport, but who went to the wrong queue and was only saved from deportation by his embassy’s intervention. There were protests planned at a mosque in Sham which we wandered past several hours after midday prayers. It was ringed by men with sticks. We wandered away again. Fast. It was a world away from post-party brunches with P, picking his brains for English, rather than Ameya, grammar and teaching, rather than learning, tips. The cat at my old house had her kittens a day and a half ago. They’re adorable, but strangely juxtaposed with the situation.