Sometimes, we, the sons of the provinces (Abna2 Al-Mouhafazat) as we are known in Damascus , have to go there on business or pleasure. Although I'm 1/2 Damascene (I don't advertise that in Tartous), I have to admit that I don't feel comfortable there. I can understand how the city can grow on you if you give it a chance, but it's a chance I'm unable to give to Damascus or to any other Syrian city for that matter. OK, I love Tartous because I was born there. It's where I have a childhood and a past full of sights, sounds and smells. I have some very fond memories of Damascus during a 4 month transitional period in my life before I moved abroad for many years. But the city never really accepted me, nor did I. The true reason might lie in the fact that I hate large cities in general. Even Tartous is getting too big for my taste.
The temperatures were soaring high, the air thirsty and the winds gusting with smells of dry mud and desert sands. I finished working too late to drive back to Tartous. I felt like a fish out of water, gasping to breathe.
I was "taken" to Gusto, a high end cafe where boys and girls half my age go to see and be seen (more emphasis on the second). It's the sort of place where, I'm sure the same people reserve tables night after night and watch themselves and each other. The girls are dressed or undressed very seductively. The boys are well groomed with gel on their thick black hair. The girls smell sweet and the boys work very hard to radiate that "fuck it" look. Don't think I'm coming down too hard on the youth of Damascus, we have the same sorts in Tartous with minor and subtle differences.
I have to give it to the Damascene girls though, they are beautiful. Those on display were a little bit on the "Haifa Wehbe" side for my taste, but beautiful nonetheless. Having fishermen DNA in my genes, I inevitably compare women to fish. If the gorgeous Tartoussi girl were a Sea Bass (Le2ouss Ramli), that is the most delicious fish on the planet, the Damascene is more like caviar. You can drink whatever with sea bass but are restricted to Scotch or Champaign with caviar. Both are great to have; one on a regular basis, the other on special occasions. Caviar like Cuban cigars and a red Ferrari need a "refined" taste and high maintenance.
Sorry, my intention is not chauvinist in the least, I really mean the above as a compliment to both, sea bass and caviar. As a matter of fact, I'm crazy for seafood.