From my upcoming travel book on Syria: My Home is Your Home.Published Dec 1
The boy knocks on the door, more urgently each time and I ignore him. One evening, I get up, go downstairs and sit in a café and, in the growing darkness, watch people amble about.
A wedding procession wheels into the square – trucks and cars with horns blaring. In the second truck, a lone young man in suit and tie. Is this the bridegroom? A bus full of ululating women brings up the rear. The noise and shouting is at first deafening but fades as the cavalcade hurtles off towards the Roman ruins.
It’s peaceful sitting here although I have a myriad of things to do like going to the museum, checking out the ruins, walking around town. Meeting people. Instead, I sit here and watch the man at the next table. What hair he’s got is sandy and there’s a paunchy thickness to his waist. If I watch him for long enough he’ll talk to me and sure enough he does. He’s a translator – German into English – and is based in Germany. The postcard he has in his hand is to his mother in Manchester.
“She doesn’t know I’m in Syria,” he says. “When she finds out, she’ll worry. She thinks it’s the same as Iraq.”