Thursday, August 03, 2006

Giant red ball, anyone?


Aleppo is known for being more conservative than Damascus, and you can tell just by looking at the crowd. Even at just a casual glance, it is apparent that more women wear
the veil in Aleppo, and when they do, more of them choose the full black covering.

This particular crowd is mingling at the souq area in the Al-Jdeide quarter of the city, not far from Bab al-Faraj.


If you're in the area, you can buy one of these huge red balls for yourself. They're only five lira, direct from China.

I find the contrast in this picture between the garish red ball and the quiet, conservatively dressed women very striking. I also remember how the busy, bustling souq atmosphere disappears suddenly and entirely as you step off the main thoroughfare into one of the cobbled sidestreets in Al-Jdeide.

You may recall that our favorite
splurge hotel and restaurant are located in this area.

But whatever you do, do not take the overnight train from Aleppo to Damascus. It may only cost five bucks, but you will wake up feeling (and smelling) like you spent the night an ashtray. Trust me on this one.
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5 comments:

sarah said...

Hey I think that's my head in the top picture. I got one of those red ball things, but I can never seem to get it as big as displayed by your picture, actually i'm afraid of it popping, since it was pretty cheap

Francesco said...

don't listen to bridget folks! The Aleppo-Damascus train is one of the greatest experiences in life! Especially for that morning juicy pain.....(right Steve?)

abufares said...

I've been waiting for a while for a new post. I've just tagged you on my blog.
Have fun

Zaid Faham said...

nice :)

Frank said...

Dear Briget.

A year ago you published a piece on paying your telphone bill in Cham.

Just so you know the power of the internet, this might be a result of what you wrote.

kind regards

Frank

Syria announces telecom upgrade plan
Syria’s Telecoms Minister Amr Salem says his country plans to embark on a major expansion plan to upgrade its telecoms network. The Minister said that with more than two million on a waiting list for a fixed line connection, pent-up demand – particularly among the young who are crying out for the internet – needed to be addressed. To this end, work has started on the deployment of hundreds of kilometres of fibre-optic lines as part of a USD200 million project, and on increasing broadband access from the paltry 10,000 subscribers currently registered.

The government says that decades of bureaucracy have contributed to the problems facing the telecoms industry, but says it is now working to redress the situation. The PSTN is ill-equipped to cope with demand, while, in some areas, the service is non-existent. The Ministry runs the country's sole landline network operator, the Syrian Telecommunication Establishment (STE), and oversees two private operators, Syriatel and Areeba, which provide mobile services. It is also considering a draft commerce law which it hopes will make it easier for businesses to invest in telecoms and an independent commission will be set up in the coming months to regulate the sector. Salem hopes the broadband user base will rise to one million by end-2007 as a result of the upgrade. The country’s 350,000-strong dial-up base, will also receive a better service, he said. However, he conceded that this was only a partial solution and said that USD1 billion would be needed to develop the entire network. The government is considering several technology providers for its various projects including Siemens, Ericsson, Alcatel, Huawei and Cisco Systems.