Monday 31 January 2011

The Aleppo souq (market) is adjacent to the Citadel, a huge natural mound which has been the site of fortifications stretching back into antiquity. I was expecting to be underwhelmed – ‘ho hum, Citadel, whatever’ – but instead I was very impressed. There must have been a sizeable town up there at one stage, and the ancient crumbling ruins in the overcast and gloomy weather were eerie. I was virtually the only one there, poking around.

From the top in all directions there was a view of grey modern Aleppo with the sky pierced at intervals with mosque miniarets. At the top it was like something out of C.S. Lewis’  ‘The Magician’s Nephew’ when the children gaze out at the desolate ruins of ancient Charn.

To the stunning and gorgeous Aleppo souq. I may have stumbled on a workeable bargaining technique. Confuse them by firing random questions at them – ‘What price for five of these? How about six? Four? One? How about three of these and two of these? ‘ and they forget what they initially quoted and start quoting a lower price.

Plenty of opportunities to use ‘Afwan’ in the crowded and busy souq. Syrian references to ‘Madame’ and ‘Monsieur’ (tres cute) are a throwback to the French colonial era. I tried to reciprocate.

‘Afwan Madam, I’m sorry I stepped on your bunions’

‘Afwan Monsieur, I’m sorry I elbowed you in the ribs’

‘Afwan Monsieur, I’m sorry YOU elbowed ME in the ribs’

‘Afwan, I don’t like to complain but your donkey has pinned me to the wall’

‘Afwan, afwan.’


‘Shukran (thanks) I am already aware of Australia’s ignoble defeat against Japan in the football’

Lunch watching BBC World News. Tony Blair, Special Envoy for Whatever, bleating on about Egypt. Muttering to myself about how the limp-wristed cream puff of a reporter should have pinned him down a bit more, I descended on the souq again.

PM Dinner at a restaurant around the corner from my hotel. The waiter informed me that Australia had lost to Japan in the football.


~ by margoforte12 on February 2, 2011.

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