Tell Me a Secret: Syria...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


I had such a lovely -much needed- vacation lately, which I was supposed to write about since I came back, a week ago or so, but never had the chance to.

And NO, unlike many of you might think, I wasn't in any terrorists' training camp, I was just having fun! :))

And I was planning to write to you the details but I am going to put it in few lines so you can go back to doing whatever you were doing before coming here:)

It was such a lovely trip, I spent some time in Dimashq, the capital, and most of the time in Halab, which is to the north, about 55km away of the Turkish borders only.

Halab is a city that after spending 24 hours in it, you stop find it strange that you are praying in a 800 years old mosque, walking beside a 500 years building, or wandering inside a 4000 (yes, four thousands) years old castle, it is an amazing place to see, one of the very first cities built in the world, and you can never stop looking at all the old buildings and ruins in it, that most of them are still functioning till now, and you can never stop making fun of the accent of the people there too, but you wouldn't know the defference anyways so let's not worry about that for now:)

The other best thing you can see in Halab is, Food!
if you haven't eaten in Halab before, you have missed alot, i mean alottt, i mean it.
it has some of the best Sheesh kabab and other eastern dishes that you would ever taste, Halab is famous for it's good food.

People are just so nice, reminds you of Iraqis, very very friendly, after I left the Halab castle where i spent maybe two hours with a guide explaining to me all the defferent things in it (which was wonderful), it was prayer time so I went to the mosque right in front of it, after praying people left, and I was very tired and cold, and it was so warm inside the mosque, so I took off my jacket and used it as a blancket and laid on the rug-covered floor (as in all mosques usually), it was my first day in Halab and I was travelling during the night. after a little while the mosque keeper, a very old man came to me and said " you were travelling during the night? " i have no idea how he knew that, or how did he know that I was a stranger in the first place but I smiled and nodded yes, he asked me to go lay down on a certain part of the side of the mosque, and then after a while, he came back to me holding a pillow!
Everyone you meet in Halab is so nice and friendly like this old kind man.
When I left the mosque, almost an hour later i found him standing at the door, he asked me where I was from, and when I told him I was a Palestinian Iraqi, his voice followed me as I left, praying for Iraq and Iraqis...

Oh and the sweets, yummmmie...they have more sweets shops than we have supermarkets here, there are so many of them, and they all are amazing. After few days I left Halab going towards Dimashq and then to Amman, as soon as I was in Dimashq I stopped the first guy I saw and asked him how do I go to Amman, so he asked me where I was from and I told him, he turned out to be from Halab too, and not only he insisted on taking me to the Amman-busses garage himself, paid for the transportation from his own money inspite of all what I said, but he also spent over an hour with me while I was shopping, because he wanted to make sure that noone would sell me things for high prices since it was obvious I was a stranger this time, my big bag was a big - I am a tourist - sign.
And this is what you should do if you go to Dimashq, if you are a tourist and you wanna buy something, and they tell you it's for 2000SL (Syrian Lera) and then you talk to them and take it for 1000 and you think you ripped them off, then you discover usually afterwards that you paid twice the usual price!! but they have very beautiful traditional clothes, Syria is famous with that, and of course the sweets too.

Prices in syria are cheap compared to Jordan.

I had a very good time, I advice you to visit Syria if you came to the ME.


Ps: this is NOT a paid commercial!
Ps2: this turned out to be much longer than i intended, anyways, you can go back NOW to do what you were doing.
Ps3: Thanks for the -where are you?- emails :))


Blogger madtom said...

I had a very good time, I advice you to visit Syria if you came to the ME

Welcome back, maybe that will be possible one day, hopefully on that same day I will invite you to visit Cuba. All things are possible, if we try.

2/16/2006 01:31:00 AM  
Blogger A. Damluji said...

Heyyyy welcome back!

glad u had some fun.. how u doing in college? everything ok?

come on write on more frequently!

(look who's talking...)

take care friend, salam to the Majitrix and the family!

2/16/2006 01:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

welcome home.

2/16/2006 02:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One question: How much weight did you gain?

2/16/2006 04:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is so nice that you can sleep in a mosque. They lock churches in Croatia at nightn - isn t that fundamentaly judgmental?
Did you take any pictures in Syria?

2/17/2006 10:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

next time....we met there. k. ------------------- majnuna a.

2/19/2006 03:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People helping out their fellow man? People paying for complete strangers transportation fees?! Surely this country is in need of Democrazy... Let's turn it into New York City where nobody gives a crap about each other :D Long Live Democrazy!

2/23/2006 05:11:00 AM  
Blogger Bruno said...

Hi Khalid!
Post a new entry some time so we know how you are doing. Were you affected by the unrest following the Shrine attack? You might want to check this link out for analysis connected to the attack:

Keep well and keep safe!

2/27/2006 05:37:00 AM  
Blogger B-gjengen said...

HELLO - just want to say I enjoy reading your blog. That's all. Have a nice day, greeetings from Canary Islands.

2/28/2006 06:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Khalid. Your descriptions sound like such a fun journey. For me, that is the best part of traveling, discovering unexpected things. It really helps to put our tiny existence in perspective when you see ancient buildings with your own eyes. Especially, to see them still in use and inhabited, that is really amazing.
However, I am confused. You said: "And NO, unlike many of you might think, I wasn't in any terrorists' training camp, I was just having fun! :))" But isn't going to terrorist training camp considered having fun? :P
I am just kidding :]

3/01/2006 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Psi Wavefunction said...

While reading your blog I thought of something - seems like democracy(capitalism) breeds and encourages selfishness and indifference. Perhaps socially, life in capitalist (aka "democratic") countries is socially poorer than in those under tighter control.

It is a proven scientific fact that entropy (chaos, disorder) increases, especially when left alone. Society falls under that law as well - let them roam, they turn to savage animals. That's why society eventually came up with governments and leaders - ways to protect itself from self-anihilation. Those societies with tighter powers were more disciplined and stronger, so they took over the poorly-organized ones.

In the West, and much of rest of the world, physical needs are or would be satisfied (would be if it wasn't for wars and internal strife), so organizing oneself to get food and survive is no longer necessary. Since we still must grow, we focus our growth on monetary wealth and economic power. At the beginning of the 20th century, the people of Europe were fed up with their opressive monarchies and emperors. So they rebelled. Rebelling and overthrowing the current power is unbelievably easy - the problem is with finding a replacement. So two major ideologies evolved: socialism and capitalism. The extreme form of socialism is known as 'communism' in the West (who shudder at the very sound of that word, as if it were something satanic). The extreme form of capitalism would be something like imperialism.

Use of the word 'communism' to describe dictatorships is incorrect(even technically), yet those Harward-educated politicians fail to realize that. 'Communism' is the final goal of socialism - where everyone takes what they need and work what they owe, with no government. Through shaping society during a strict transition stage, the goal was to create a generous, selfless society where each member essentially cares for the other. However, due to an overly optimistic view of human nature, Marx overlooked the fact that humans are essentially selfish. NAtural selection prevails, the survival of the fittest. But hey, at least they tried. Albeit somewhat opressive, such governments tend to generate a more positive, selfless society where one helps his neighbour.

Capitalism just further emphasizes the selfish survival-of-the-fittest nature within us. But hey, that's the natural course, why change it, right? Can't stop a river from meeting its death at the ocean's edge!

Now this may all sound like a fanatic rant of communist, but mind you, I am no communist, not capitalist, nor anything else. I refuse to partake in politics.... but I enjoy philosophy, and analyzing what goes on around in the world. All I ask for is for those around to be open-minded, to think for themselves, not to tear apart anything that differs from them.

And as evidence of the point about socialist and capitalist governments, I'll give you a blinding example - my country, Russia.

I'm only 17 and I moved to USA when I was 3 (now I'm in Canada!), so I never got to witness the collapse of the Soviet union and such. My parents, however, clearly remember how life was back under the 'horrible opressive' Soviet government. It was not bad. Not at all. In some ways, they've had it going better for them than me right now. Better education, job security (0% unemployment), good healthcare, very well-organized society. Moscow was one of the safest cities for its size! (Compare that to New York or Detroit...) But most importantly - the society was disciplined, generally caring for each other, mindful of others. People followed the rules and behaved themselves, kidnappings were rare, no hostages or terrorism. Was far from perfect - had its own set of problems, but was a decent place to live in.

Then, after 14 years of absence, my parents returned to Moscow, and literally cried when they got there. The once-orderly organized city became chaos - everyone does whatever they want, drivers wont bother to follow the laws anymore, bribes everywhere. Sure Russia has a high economic growth rate (going where? West? A few rich guys in power?), education system is collapsing , lowering themselves to the American level (hey, look, they're stupid, and got rich! So if we get stupid, we'll get rich too!) terrorism, abductions, thefts and general chaos runs rampant. No worries, democratically rampant, we're all happy! Thank you USA, thank you, the West! Perhaps I may worry a bit each time I go down into what once was the best subway system in the world, expecting that some Caucasion beside me might be desparate enough to blow himself up anytime...but at least this time I'd die in a democratic land at last~!

I think I'd prefer opression by the government than opression by Chaos.

So those who are thinking bombing Syria is a great idea because it'll make them all happy and democratic (albeit a bit injured but they won't mind anyway...), you must be really screwed over by American propaganda.Just stop and think for yourselves. If you still agree with it, go ahead, your opinion. I have no right to interfere. Yet, please, just have it a well-thought, YOUR OWN opinion, so you can live in your own body with your own mind, not some politician's.

3/01/2006 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger Khalid said...

And you are only 17?
why haven't Bush get that smart till now?!!

Iraqis are very much like Syrians in that matter, btw.

3/01/2006 08:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, Khalid
glad to hear that u had such a good time in Syria. talk to you soon I hope

3/01/2006 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger Bruno said...

Khalid, HI! Good to see you about.

Yana, nice commentary indeed.

3/02/2006 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger Khalid said...

Bruno email me please! are you getting my emails?

Madome i would love to visit Coba!i hope you would be my guide there:)

I cant reveal numbers, Solar!

Anariki, please send me your phone number!


3/03/2006 12:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting points, Yana. You sound like you have a 50 year-old head on a 17 year-old shoulder. I often wonder if care for other people is less about the system and more about the size of the system. Capitalism in little villages seems to work fine. Imagine a little village, I'll call it Niorak, with a baker, and a butcher, and a, erm candlestick maker and generator dealer, and maybe a shoe-maker and a few other things. And they have their regular customers, and they have a pride in their little town (Niorak). So that when strangers arrive, pride naturally means good hospitality is given the stranger, because no-one would the stranger to go away and say bad things in other villages about their experience in Niorak. But in cities - well there are so many strangers arriving it hardly seems to matter if one goes away with a bad impression or not because hey, "there's more customers where he came from".

To me, the Soviet went all to pot because it got too big. It collapsed under the weight of it's own gulag, just like capitalism is collapsing under the weight of it's office towers. In a way, I think that's why so many Americans have turned to the web. They are looking for little communities, little villages, to recreate the familiarity that their large lives lack.

3/03/2006 09:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, where do you think you should go for your next vacation?

Some other place with good food...Switzerland! They're neutral, have good chocolate and fondue, and you could go skiing. And play one of those huge horns. =)

Or, were you thinking of someplace else?

3/05/2006 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger Mark Prime (tpm/Confession Zero) said...

Unknown Liberty

3/07/2006 12:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salamu Alaykum:>

what a nice journey Khalid! I'm Aysha,,from Canada,,new to this whole blog thing, but it seems interesting,,its wonderful how everyone is so kind,,i personally dont know anyone from Iraq,,but its nice to know that I left a comment for someone from Iraq:> Anyways,,


3/07/2006 03:19:00 AM  
Blogger cile said...

ahh. freelance writer now hehh?! welcome to the club, colleague! :)
stay well

3/07/2006 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger staralfur said...

Can you by any chance tell me, in the hopes of widening my narrow view of the world, what living in Iraq in what is perceived to be a war zone is like??

3/08/2006 06:15:00 PM  
Blogger petunia said...

Al salam alykum
I am good friends with people from Iraq and enjoy reading other people's views from that part of the world. I don't always agree but that's okay....I pray for you all and hope your country can live in peace one day.

3/10/2006 07:27:00 PM  
Blogger Sndibaad said...


I enjoyed reading your blog and specialy this post about you trip to Syria, I had a togh experiance last year in the summer in Damascus, however my visit to the other Syrian cities revealed different type of Syrian people, maybe I shouldnt have visited the capital :)


3/12/2006 06:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an Israeli, I would very much like to visit Syria once...

However, it seems that niceness is not a virtue they posses.

Maybe next time I see Syria would be from my F-16 window...

:) just kiddin.


7/20/2006 06:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this was a very nice story. Hey sierra. this is the new website, okay? okay.

4/16/2008 04:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to put a comment down, just click post a comment, go all the way down in the new box that comes up, put your comment down where it says leave a comment, and click the circle that says anonymous thats at the bottom, and in the word verification, just type in the green letters that you see above. then click on publish your comment.

4/16/2008 04:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you dont actually put down a comment, i will seriously hate u for life.

4/16/2008 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger Khalid said...

crazy anonymous what are you on about?:)

4/16/2008 05:26:00 PM  
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