Monday, April 17, 2006

Home Sweet (Syrian) Home

Let's take a tour of a Syrian apartment, shall we? This particular apartment (ours) is typical in the sense that most of our friends lived in similar dwellings, some lived in better, and some lived in worse.


Here's our front door, on the fourth and top floor of our building. As you may recall,
there is no elevator, which wasn't a problem until I was very pregnant. We loved the round knob in the middle of the door - I felt like a Hobbit every time I came home. The Christmas wreath hanging over the door...what can I say? We put it up and then never took it down. If nothing else, it helped differentiate our door from everyone else's since it was not uncommon for me to become so involved in climbing the multitude of stairs that I'd go up one flight too many to the roof and panic, thinking that our apartment had somehow disappeared.


The main living area of our apartment was decorated in classic Louis XIV style, or at least that's what we called it. And believe me, this is very typical. The decor you see above and below is not even the most ostentatious to be found in Damascus. The more gilded, ruffly, and chandelier-y, the better.


The chandeliers were lots of fun. The one in the top picture had many candle-shaped lightbulbs in it, but I don't think more than half a dozen worked at any given time. If the draw on power for our building was especially strong, several of the bulbs would go out and then come on again when the power surged. The chandelier in the second living room picture hung really low. My husband and I are short, but some of our taller friends never did learn to duck when they walked under it.


If your apartment is on an upper story of your building, you probably have a balcony. Nicer apartments will sometimes have two or even three balconies. Here's the view from ours, overlooking the all-important clothesline.

The Syrian bathroom is somewhat of a curiosity, but I've stopped short of posting a picture of ours on a public website such as this. In many apartments, the bathroom is an all-in-one; that is, it's a completely tiled room containing a detatchable showerhead ("dush-telefon"), bidet, toilet, sink, and mirror in one. The best thing about this design is that it was super easy to clean. All I had to do was soap everything up and then spray it down with the showerhead. After showering, you squeegie the tile floor dry (there is a drain in the corner). The other cool feature of a Syrian bathroom is that it's often equipped with a buzzer that rings in the living area of the house. None of our friends were ever able to explain its exact function - they'd usually come up with some explanation involving a forgotten towel.

If you live in the Old City or in a country villa, your house probably looks different from ours, but now you at least know what one typical apartment is like.
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4 comments:

Alex said...

Bridget, you're lucky your appartment was not "Happy journey" styled with plastic bunches of grapes in every room.

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Anonymous said...

Dear Bridget,


I could swaer I rented the same apartment ! is this in Shiekh Saad by the vegetables market ?

baty said...

the buzzer is for elderly people. as you probably know, the elderley are a big part of middle eastern home life, and the buzzer is in case they slip or need anything,especially when showering.