“I still have relatives there, in Aleppo. They never know when they’ll have water and electricity.”

Stopped into a Beirut cafe I’ve frequented in the recent past while waiting for paperwork to go to Syria. And while I usually sat reading and sharing Syria news off my laptop, only today did I learn that the attractive waitress is herself Syrian. In the past, we only exchanged pleasantries, but today we began with her “welcome back, how’d things go” type of comments, and later my pleas for her help in translating blurbs of voice recordings. In general, I get some/much of what is said, depending on by whom and what the subject is. But, for articles, I prefer to err to the side of caution, being sure of the translation.

She helps me wade through the Syrian dialect I’m still coming to terms with.

“My family is from Aleppo, but I grew up here. I still have relatives there, in Aleppo. They never know when they’ll have water and electricity.”

We get through some translations, and we talk basic politics. She mentions to me in conversation, then loudly later to a customer/friend, that she supports Bashar al-Assad.

When I go to pay she tells me “it’s on the house today.”

Down the the street, my Aleppo veg vendor drops his cucumbers when he sees me. “Alhamdillah ala salama,” he says, praising my safe return. We chat a bit; I apologize that I didn’t get to see the Mufti again and bring this man a similar prayer bead to the one I’ve got. He takes it in stride, ending with the predictable, “if you need anything, just let me know.”

A teen, 16, stops me. He’s got a wad of what seem to be lottery tickets. Maybe he senses a sucker, maybe he’s right. “Please, give me 1,000 for water,” he says. Sure I’m being fooled; I’ve heard the same pleas since I’ve come here. But sure some of them are real. Who can know? The only thing I do know I that Syria has been ravaged by my countries (plural: America and Canada are both complicit in the destruction and manufactured “war” on Syria). So what does it hurt me to pass along five bucks now and then, even if I’m being scammed (which I doubt…)?

Later, in a convenience store near my crappo apartment-hotel, I chat with Samer, from Jaramana. Things are better he says, and I experienced. Less mortars now. “Udhak alei? You’re laughing at me? Democracry? That’s what this is about?,” he says of the corporate media/NGOs/Western line of “human rights” and “freedom and democracy” re Syria.

We talk of the reality of the proxy war on Syria. He is an average person from the outskirts of Damascus, yet his political understanding is far more nuanced than the average North American. And so it should be: his country is being ravaged by the mercenaries which do the rounds…poisoning Islam and making more of a laugh of “democracy”.

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