I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the Tartoussi is one of a dying breed. The truth of the matter is that the real Tartoussi is one of a minority in his own town. Same thing can be said about the real New Yorker or the real Damascene. It’s just a demographic fact with an absence of prejudice.
Writing about one’s hometown is always difficult. One might bore others to death at any junction, or even worse offend them. No point in stating the obvious then.
Over the last few years, some striking ideas have been flying around regarding the future of Tartous. A few “sages” even go as far as saying that Tartous should be the commercial capitol of Syria. More realistic pens and mouths suggest that it should be transformed into a large free zone, “look at Dubai” they point out knowingly!
Frankly, I’m fed up. If Tartous needs anything, it is to regain its innocence. Too bad we can’t go back in time, because that’s what we really need. When I am fortunate to go places, especially around the Mediterranean and see for myself how some cities by-the-sea have maintained their small town charm, then I feel bad about mine. A case in point is the beautiful city of Alicante, Spain. Located about a 130 km south of Barcelona, the wise people of Alicante decided one day to give up on their commercial port and thus transformed it into a recreational harbor. What’s the point in competing with Barcelona, they reckoned. They reckoned right. To my eyes and soul, Alicante is a true jewel of the Mediterranean. Jbeil, Lebanon managed to do a little magical trick and became, again in my opinion, the most beautiful city in Lebanon. Keep it simple, they decided, keep it small.
What pisses me off is the fact that the future of Tartous is being discussed by everybody except us the “minority”. Just imagine some wise guys, sitting in Damascus and arguing over some scale model of the Tartous Sea Front (a project that we keep hearing about since time immemorial). Of these wise guys, the shoddier are the Tartoussis who have moved their asses to Damascus because Tartous is too “boring” or too “Humid”. They patronizingly speak of “their” hometown as if they know it best. If you don’t live here for one of the above two reasons [boring and/or humid], don’t butt in. As for the expatriate real Tartoussis who live abroad in search of their dreams, you were not meant by the previous comment. Tartous has been made by and is all about you.
And, as if it were not enough to have people discussing our future some 250 km away, the government send us one wave of stupid officials after the other. For the love of God, some of them can’t even swim, and they’re talking about harbors and marinas.
Just let it be please. Get your hand and mind off of it. Don’t bring in any more industry, don’t bring in commerce. Just don’t bring in anything. You want a city like Dubai, go to the fucking Syrian Desert, cross Palmyra and continue driving for 50 km in any direction. Build your dream city there. Build a cement factory, a fertilizer plant, a refinery, a power plant, a shithole. Whatever you like, go ahead and build it. Build a metro, two malls, three Arab Towers, an internet city, a Hollywood of the desert, just dream it up, build it and stay there. I promise to visit one day and feel awed with your grandiose achievements and marvelous feats of engineering and business sense.
Should I write more, I guess not.