I remember arriving with my mother and brothers at Damascus airport sometime in the early nineties. It was a horribly depressing place. My mother was dealing with some paper work so I sat on our luggage, staring at people as they went by. There was a boy who spoke English with an American accent. I think his parents were dealing with paperwork too. We love paperwork in Syria. Without it, things would simply work, and that wouldn't do. No, paperwork kept the illusion of order, and discipline.
Monday, October 17, 2016
The boy was running around behind the columns playing some sort of game. Then he turned and yelled to his parents. They looked back to see what the matter was, and he was pointing at the floor and laughing. "There's kaka. There's kaka on the floor" he said. "Well leave it alone and come here" they replied.
He was right. Earlier, I'd noticed as we passed that there was a piece of shit behind one of the pillars. I suppose it's something strange when I think about it today, but that's one of the things you got used to seeing in Syria back then.
There was also an Indian woman with her two children who was trying to find her way through the bureaucracy. She asked a porter for directions but he continually ignored her and walked on. "Excuse me," she insisted, "Hello? Could you tell me..."
"Sorry!" he finally bellowed at her in his Syrian accented English. People turned to look for a fraction of a second and then everybody went about their business. The woman stood there with a stunned look on her face. He said it like it was the only word he knew, and it probably was. I couldn't help but feel sorry for the poor woman, for how embarrassed, shocked, and sad she must have felt to be yelled at like that in front of her two children. This was supposed to be an international airport. I was half tempted to get up and apologise to her, but when you're a kid you just stare dumbly at things that are happening because you're not sure about what you've just seen.
We got the paperwork sorted and left, and that was our first day in Syria for the summer holidays. There was "kaka" behind a pillar and a poor Indian woman being yelled at by a porter who couldn't speak English.