Syria: The Bloggers

This post will be dedicated to the lives of some of the wonderful individuals that make the Syrian blogsphere.

The Syrian blogsphere has grown extensively in number through the last few years, but one thing stayed the same, it is a very personal space. You can look at it as a collective personal blog of Syria. It is one of the few places that extends through the many shades of the Syrian society, whether at home or diaspora. Politically, religiously and socially it has grown to represent most of the colors that make up the Syrian identity. Whether it is the far left, the liberal center or the conservative right. Be it pro-Arabism, or Pro-Syria, religious or atheist, the collective efforts of these fine bloggers writing their day-to-day life on their blogs has come to paint the collective image of Syria, through blogging.

I will be taking a leave from politics today, to take you on a trip through the small details in days of many different Syrian bloggers.

Imagine yourself under the hot water, washing away a good two-hour workout's sweat, and then, imagine a power outage!
That's what happened to Dubai Jazz, a Syrian architect working in Dubai. But wait, there's more…

Horrified at the sudden collapse of civility, he decided to stay in his shower cubicle. Feeling the heat and the humidity brewing heavily in the place, he tilted the water tap to ‘cold’, and sat down at the floor mat (which was more like a perforated plastic grating). As he rested his back on the smooth ceramics, he felt a slight vibration emanating from the walls ‘it must be that people are rushing down from the upper floor’ he thought…’is there an evacuation underway?’.
Images of a stampede of naked people popped up to his mind. It must be his subconscious reflecting earlier gripes about the shameless nudity in the locker room, he thought. In order to keep his calm, he tried to think of a plausible course of action to get his ass (which has now registered the distinctive imprints of the flooring mat) out of this mess.

Lujayn, also working in Dubai, tells us about her new beginning

I am not a woman who takes easily to change. I resist it, preferring to stay wherever I am or in whatever mess I’m in, rather than initiate change. I make endless excuses as to why I can’t change or shouldn’t change whatever I am doing, even if I’m utterly miserable in my current state. I don’t know if I can take credit for this last move, since a close friend of mine almost forced me to apply, but I have finally quit my job and I’m moving to a new, more challenging job.

Abu Fares, the gentleman from Tartous, decides to leave his work, laptop, emails and cell phone behind him, hop on a ferry with his family and head on for a week in Mersin.

Mersin proved to be a perfect choice. Temperatures were soaring all over. The family mutually agreed on not wanting to go around places but to rather stay in one city. As far as I was concerned, all I dreamed of was to sit in the shade by a body of water (a stunning swimming pool), read a good book (The Man Who Fell to Earth) and sip my misty drink (Vodka with anything). The little ones were just ecstatic to spend so much time in my company and to swim all day. Om Fares and Diana couldn’t ask for more than to be able to get away from the three of us and maraud the shops and markets of Mersin. An excellent status quo was reached during the daylight hours and later on in the evening when we would all regroup, we would experience the little joys of a family vacation.

Golaniya, a Syrian student studying in Lebanon, takes a leave from her excellent volunteer work in Nahr el-Bared, and her reporting on the Syrian-Lebanese borders, and also heads to our northern neighbor, but this time on a bus.

So here I am, in the bus that will take me to Turkey, taking a major step towards my autonomy from myself, my routin, and the common Syrian/family pattern. I knew I am going to be a “tourist” someday, but I never thought it would be that soon. I know that the campaign life has affected my character in a way that made me less a hesitant person, more adventurous and daring.

Her photo recollection of the trip here, is just as descriptive.

Katia, a Syrian living in Brussels [who celebrated her birthday only two days ago, with a table full of delicious cuisine], tells us a beautiful story about her little cousin's first date

Once outside, I noticed him fidgeting a little. He leaned a bit on the large concrete step to the right of the door and, even if not quite grasping what was happening, I just felt right there that I was about to have the most genuine and sweet conversation ever. And before I knew it, he said “Are you free tomorrow evening?” Though it was his first time asking out a girl, at least I think, he decided to dive in head first. He is brave, you see. I, on the other hand, was still a little puzzled. I must have uttered something along the line of “Yes, nothing planned yet”. My lack of plans clearly added to his spunk and so he immediately asked whether I would want to have dinner with him. Somehow he felt like he should add that it would be just the two of us, to make sure we were on the same wave length. I smiled. Sure I would want to and would love to and whichever words of acceptance one could think off. “Is 6 Ok?” he asked. 6 was perfect indeed, thinking to myself that the heat would be down by then so we could have a walk.

Omar, a Syrian living in Canada, writes another one of his amazingly precise, yet highly incoherent posts. This one was meant to be a comeback post, after a while away from the blogsphere…

again, how do I sum up the past 8 weeks? talk about my wedding? talk about my shorter than a joke 4-day-long honeymoon in New York? my first relaxing vacation in Damascus since long time (where I finally managed NOT to fight with my dad over lots of things)? about how I was almost taken to the hospital1 hour before my wedding because I had a sudden severe stomach infection that left me unconscious with fever for 2 hours while my bride was waiting in her home for me to show up? about the 3 strange doctors that almost saved me from death while the infection was eating my brain, shoving IV tubes into my arms and allowing me to go and attend my own wedding? how I finally re-connected with my sister after a long self-imposed cold relationship because she decided to put a veil, and how I finally came to peace with Damascus after 7 years of contradicting emotions? or about how I (again) decided to go back to school and get myself into another weird artistic and philosophical adventure…

Wassim, a Syrian living in London, writes about his endearing memories back in Syria.

The days gently slid us into a sleepy routine. In the morning, we'd wake up to the noise of the people going about their business. The smells from the old bakery beneath us wafting up and enticing us out of bed. The grocer or mazoot guy passing by with their horse drawn cart and honking that horrid horn. I remember the attraction was always the horses, so beautifully decorated and with jingly bells and tassles and those large plumes of feathers on their heads. We always used to rush out to the balcony to see those horses or donkeys, lumbering along dutifully day in and day out. In the evening, the man with his dara (corn on the cob) wagon would pass and you'd see him moving around with a big boiling cauldron. He'd wrap them in newspapers and sprinkle salt on if you wanted, we never turned down the chance to have dara.

And Finally, we end with Bassam, a Syrian physician who moved back to Syria two years ago from the United States, and decided to chronicle his experiences and life here in his blog, Bassam in Syria. Well, now Bassam is moving back to the United States, and this was his farewell post.

I hope that after five or six years, I would visit my blog again and have a good laugh at what happened then. And at the same time, see what things have become, what changes have been made, whether it was in the city of Damascus, the government, myself, or anything that I ever noticed. And if anything was going in the direction I wished for, I will give myself a credit… at least for whining about it.

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