The street I live on is called Al-Shamiya, which means long, winding lane with no room for cars but plenty for willful donkeys loaded up with watermelons. It may also mean place of insane boys riding bicycles three sizes too big; cat alley; or perhaps even the tunnel of a 1001 wails. I quite like the wailing. Some of the participants are actually quite tuneful. The only time I don’t hear it is at 4 a.m. which one might think is a blessing but I find disappointing. I love lying in bed listening to the day break. I can’t think why I don’t hear it since I hear every other wail of the day. Perhaps they whisper this one in deference to all the crazy neighbours who have been up until the wee hours drinking shandy and watching Turkish soaps. Then again I can’t quite imagine the sheik deferring to sleep over Allah. I must be sleeping well – at last!
This morning I made myself a boiled egg. Progress! Everything in my kitchen has a touch of Uri Geller to it so it was quite a challenge to find a pot that could hold water, a knife that would cut and a spoon that could hold egg. I felt quite a sense of achievement at the end. Perhaps that’s why I travel: why I want to live in foreign towns: so I can appreciate the simple things in life once again.
After breakfast I had a rest – as you do – and went for a stroll in my hood looking for water and deodorant. I stopped at the coffee house beside the Umayyad mosque and watched all the old men gossiping over their pipes. There was quite a lot of lip licking going on so obviously something very salacious had happened – a wantonly exposed knee perhaps.
In the afternoon I met up with a brother of my friend A. A is in the army right now out at some inhospitable stretch of desert by the Euphrates. His brother was in town to do an exam so we met for tea. I wondered if I would recognize his brother amongst all his ‘other brothers’ but as soon as I saw his face I knew they were family. They have very delicate features – not really the type you imagine crawling the sands in camouflage and khaki. We walked through the old town and he told me of his dream to be a journalist and a nurse. I believe the nurse part is to help him avoid the full army experience by working in a hospital instead. He was very interested in inspecting my bruised arms (from the IV in hospital) and to learn words like ‘ambulance’. I almost taught him tachycardia too – ah the gift of ER it just keeps on giving.
Now I am back home after dodging a near kiss by a shop-keeper and I am seriously contemplating eating a meal tonight. What I would really like is one of the freshly baked cupcakes the baker down the road makes in his hole-in-the-wall oven. When they are finished they sit in their little metal holders cooling at his window and I feel they would make a mighty addition to my egg and potato diet.
Let’s hope he bakes tonight. Insha’Allah!