Syrians Heart and Soul Exile in Istanbul

Syrians Heart and Soul Exile in Istanbul

Sitting in an café in the Fatih district of Istanbul I file my pictures; a rare story this time of Syrians doing pretty well for themselves in exile, I enjoyed the same Syrian food I ate with my friends in Damascus, now all exiled themselves, Abo Nour was shoveling Ma’anish into the oven as fast as he could, from Shargour in the heart of the Damascus, a true Damascene anyone will tell you comes from the heart of Damascus and he was putting his heart and soul into baking the Ma’aish, the waiters were buzzing around bundling up the take away orders for the queue outside the shop, the café I am now sitting in is a reasonably upmarket patisserie and many of the customers are also Syrian, they made me smile while they stumbled with their Turkish, Syrians making an effort to look after themselves while their country is ripped apart and the world turns its back, while my pictures upload I read a new dispatch from Syria, a tale of gung ho and daring do, the world needs to learn what is happening to Syrians yet we read more and more drivel, I try to stifle my anger, two Syrian women are in fits of giggles as they order sweets from the counter beside me, mixing Arabic and Turkish to their, mine and the patient assistants amusement, I pay the bill and head out into the rain, despite the weather I decide to walk, as I pass a park I notice some huddled figures sheltering from the rain, I go closer and see several children huddled together and guess they are probably Syrian so I go over to them, an old guy stands up as I approach and eyes me with caution, I say hello and he welcomes me, his name is Hassan and he’s from Saida Zeynab in Damascus, his friend is from Aleppo, the kids look on curiously as we chat, he’s been sleeping rough on the streets of Istanbul for a couple of months but thank God everything is fine he tells me, he tells me of a problem he had in Damascus I and I tell him of a similar experience of mine and he shakes my hand furiously in acknowledgment of my understanding, I bid them all a good night and make my way home, the rain has eased and its not, thankfully, very cold, I think again of the article I read earlier and the injustice it does to Hassan and the forgotten people of Syria, I will go back and see him again tomorrow and maybe bring him some Ma’anish from Abu Nour, baked with the heart and soul of Damascus.