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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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Reverse music

In America, large vehicles emit a beeping noise when they go in reverse to warn anyone who may be standing in their path. In Syria, they have a bit more class - when cars or buses back up, they play a catchy little tune. The tune always bothered me a little bit because although it would get stuck in my head, I never knew what song it was. I asked a lot of Syrians if they knew what it was, but no one could give me a definitive answer.

Fast forward to now. For fun, I programmed the tune into Jeremy's cell phone and made it his ring tone.

The other day we were out and about with some of the students and Jeremy's phone rang. One of the students, a girl from France, laughed and said she couldn't believe we had "Lambada" as our ringtone.

Finally, someone who knew this song! I was able to come home, look it up on the internet, and hear the original, non-monophonic version in all its glory.

Now my only question is why on earth drivers in the Middle East chose a 1989 dance song sung by a French band inspired by the native music of Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia to be played every time they put their cars in reverse.

(There are plenty of places on the internet where you, too, can watch the video and hear the song, but I won't link to them since the band is French - let's just say that their policy on displaying one's undergarments while dancing doesn't match my own.)