Damascus Diary: Sunday July 29th 2012

Damascus Diary: Sunday July 29th 2012

As a photographer my eyesight is naturally enough the sense I most rely on, these days though since I am denied the opportunity to use my camera it’s my sense of hearing that seems to be working overtime, almost every morning the jarring sounds of conflict wake me from my sleep, yesterday the sounds continued throughout most of the morning, today they seemed to have paused, I sit with my morning coffee waiting for the noise to return, during Ramadan mornings tend to start very slowly, most of my neighbors seem to be still asleep, for a few minutes the only sound is of the sparrows darting about the rooftops.
By midday the peace is shattered this time the noise an explosion the fills the air and shakes the foundations of my house, the outside walls I am told are 400 hundred years old and I wonder if at any time in the past they endured such torment, another bang and I feel my stomach flinch, the sounds are much closer today, how close I can’t really tell, a couple of km’s maybe, what must that noise sound like there I wonder.
It’s a little unusual here to go to bed before midnight, its summer and Ramadan, not to mention the war, midnight is ambitious to say the least, still it’s what I attempted to do, in my mind I knew it wouldn’t work, a phone call maybe or just the neighbors TV, I lay down and drifted off, it was just twenty minutes later the sound of automatic gunfire had me jumping from my bed, this time the shooting was very close, sustained bursts, I heard Hassan and Osama running franticly back home, best friends they often hang out at the entrance to our alley, the shooting and small explosions were reverberating all around, the fighting was clearly in the adjacent alleyways, I dressed and tried to workout in my mind what scenario was being played out, the Old City is not what you would describe as strategic to anyone, the sounds were coming from all directions, very close but also from further away, I had little option but to stay in my house, I wanted to go to the roof and get a better idea but bullets had been zipping in the air above my head, I was pretty sure whatever nightmare was being played outside that I would be safe in my house, I never thought of myself as a typical Englishman but nevertheless I put the kettle on and made tea, I listened to the sound of different weapons being used, not knowing the type just the seriousness each sound makes, was this just another clash, the like of which I had been hearing for months in other parts of the city or was this the beginning of something even worse, as awful as things have been all over the country I knew things could still get worse, the fighting continued through the night, the sounds mostly further away from my house and less sustained, I heard the dawn call to prayer from my local mosque and not long after that I fell asleep.
By morning peace and quiet had resumed, my natural inclination was to go out and see what had happened but part of me was in no rush, when I eventually I did life seemed back as it was, no obvious evidence of the previous night’s gun battles, I spoke with a few friends who had differing versions of events, more rumor and hearsay, the media seemed slow on the uptake but were soon to imply sectarian motives, the two eastern gates of the Old City; Bab Touma and Bab Sharki are easily labeled as government loyalist areas, a simple assumption but only an assumption, the fighting though was not confined to those areas, most of what I could hear was from the Bab al Salam area, ironically meaning The Peace Gate and further to west, the Old City is easy to carve up into sectarian portions but in reality its very mixed, like the rest of Damascus, mixed by sect and mixed in loyalty, there are many making mischief out of this, the majority of Syrians I speak to are more than aware of this and are refusing to fall into the trap, the Syrian people are being tested to the limits, I have great faith in their ability to overcome this appalling time.
Sunday July 29th 2012

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One thought on “Damascus Diary: Sunday July 29th 2012

  1. I very much enjoyed reading what you wrote. Your words are very visual..found myself echoing the same thought when you said, “…the outside walls I am told are 400 hundred years old and I wonder if at any time in the past they endured such torment..”

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