Aleppo, A Walk In The Park

Aleppo, A Walk In The Park

I have to confess Aleppo has never been my favorite city in Syria, I tried often to like it, after a decade of life in Damascus I guess I succumbed to the Shami perspective of preferring the capital, that said I did enjoy my frequent visits, the bus journey though was tedious, five hours of monochrome monotony apart from a brief glimpse of greenery while passing through the gardens of Hama, arriving in just the wrong mood for a city too busy to woo me the way Damascus would, I preferred the train, leaving on the midnight sleeper and arriving just after dawn, it was a longer journey but at least sleep was a possibility, arriving in any city by train is infinitely preferable, Aleppo station has seen a great deal of history pass along its platforms, the Berlin to Baghdad posters have given way to Bashar’s but the essence has been retained, well run and spotlessly clean with toilet facilities a joy to behold, not that you would, in 2003 the management even had the foresight to agree to hold the Syrian International Photography Gathering arranged by the eponymous Issa Touma, I remember old Bedouin farmers stepping off the train from the north east and pondering my images with genuine interest before heading off to do battle with the businessmen of the souk.
From the station into town is a casual stroll through a well-kept park that early in the morning is always busy with joggers and walkers, old and young, Christian and Muslim, male and female, Versace sweat pants and ipods, sitting on park bench sipping coffee it would seem to me it that it was almost compulsory that every facet of Syrian society was represented, the fountains and pools the manicured lawns, you could learn more about Syria sitting here drinking coffee than you ever would staring at Saladin’s stones, judging by the media representation of Syria recently I get the impression though that nobody ever did, so let’s stroll on to the souk, and yes it’s a labyrinth and an assault on the senses, lets gaze up at the medieval marvel that is the citadel and remark that it is, indeed imposing and then let’s turn our backs and walk away.