The croissant stand in Aamariya district of Thomas Gate is known not only to Damascenes but visitors from other areas of Syria. While prices for most goods have risen all across Syria, the stand keeps its prices low: 125 Syrian pounds per sumptuous croissant. On the first day of ‘Eid celebrations the stand is packed.
Life for many in Damascus, Syria, is beginning to regain a sense of normalcy. Once besieged by foreign fighters, the ancient city and its residents struggle to rebuild their lives, land and livelihood, rejoicing in the simple mundanity of day-to-day life.
July 20, 2016, MintPress News (Global Research, Uprooted Palestinians)
Damascus, Eva Bartlett — On prior visits to Damascus, staying in the Old City, the sound of mortars being fired from terrorist-held districts outside of the city was a constant. In recent months, the mortars on Damascus have stopped. Previously, Jebhat al-Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria), Jaysh al-Islam and the Free Syrian Army, among other terrorist factions, rained mortars daily on residential areas of Damascus, hitting schools, homes, vehicles and pedestrians, killing and maiming indiscriminately, leaving civilians, including children, with critical injuries and amputations.
With the recent absence of mortars, Damascenes have opened outdoor establishments where before it was formerly too dangerous. Sidewalks cafes and outdoor eateries open at night were unthinkable less than half a year ago, let alone rooftop cafes and lounges. Although Syrians nation-wide suffer immensely from an economy devastated by war and western sanctions, in Damascus there is a renewed sense of defiance, a refusal to give in, or as a young man in his twenties visiting from Aleppo said: “They have their own war against death by living.”
A snapshot of life in Damascus, June and July 2016:
Wedding procession in the Old City of Damascus. Love and life continue. A newcomer to Syria might be surprised by the vibrancy of life among Damascus residents, who have lived under al-Nusra and Jaysh al-Islam mortars for years, as well as cruel sanctions. “Tawadna” is a phrase that is heard often in Syria: “We got used to it.” Even when mortars rained down, Syrians celebrated their weddings and festivals. Now, at least, it is safer to do so outside.
The book market near the President’s Bridge and Damascus University is an institution in Damascus, known to book lovers who can’t afford regular bookstores. It is one Damascus venue which refused to shut down over the years, mortars or not. In addition to Arabic books, one can find English language books and cookbooks, English literature, popular English-language thrillers and taudry romance novels.
In the narrow lanes of Old Damascus, a wooden mosaic artisan explains the techniques of his trade. The tediously-crafted and beautiful woodwork is a favourite for tourists. In spite of the dearth of customers in the past five and a half years, craftsmen and women continue to practise their skills in hopes that when peace returns to Syria, so too will tourists. POST CONTINUES