A few years back an Italian colleague was visiting Syria and we traveled together on business to Aleppo, Homs, Lattakia then eventually Damascus. We had nothing to do on our last day before he was to fly back to Venice and I offered to take him around and show him the ageless beauty of the oldest capital in the world. Francesco asked me if we could go shopping and although it was, and still is, one of my least favorite activities I was delighted to help. He was a great travel companion and I pleasantly inquired about what he had in mind. “An oriental dancer (belly dancing) costume,” he told me, his eyes steady and unblinking. I swallowed hard yet kept smiling reassuringly. How in the hell was I going to overcome my acquired modesty and actually ask someone where to buy one of the most sensual pieces of feminine attire, I pondered covertly. I called a friend of mine, a very pretty Damascene girl I once knew and posed the question. “Now that you’re in your 40’s you’re getting kinky aren’t you Abufares?” she laughed teasingly. Despite my long-time familiarity with her I still felt awfully embarrassed. “It’s not for me. I mean I’m not buying it. It’s for my friend Francesco. I mean he must be buying it for someone…”. “Relax, my old friend. You probably don’t know that it’s customary for young Damascene brides to have at least one oriental dancer outfit among the most intimate apparel of their dowry? And, Abufares… I have several myself”, she divulged in the daintiest of tones before we finally hung up.
We walked along the long covered Souk of Hamidieh, Francesco and I. My friend had assured me that they were sold everywhere. All I had to do was ask. I finally summed up the courage and entered a small boutique where nightgowns and other womanish stuff were on display. The store was attended by a twenty-something year old guy. I whispered my request self-consciously. I needed to repeat my question three times before the asshole yelled at the top of his voice in the general direction of a narrow staircase that led somewhere up: “Majed, please show this gentleman our fine collection of dancing outfits.” “It’s not for me…”, I started… but he was already busy serving two veiled clients. Francesco and I climbed upstairs. My face was red with the blood of shame; I could almost feel the tips of my ears burning. I was so desperately embarrassed. “Ahlen wa Sahlen Eyouni (welcome)”, Majed beamed at us. “What do you have in mind? Classy or trashy? A high quality masterpiece or a cheap costume? We have everything from SYP500 to 100,000 a piece ($10 to $2,000)”. “It’s not for me…”, he wouldn’t even let me continue. “So what if it is for yours, man? Alhamdu Lillah (Thank God) we’re not doing anything wrong”. Francesco ended up buying a sexy purple translucent outfit. Majed had to get him from a high shelf behind a smaller size bra since apparently Graziella’s boobs were a little on the diminutive side.
For the last three years of my life I’ve been blogging and reading blogs. My browsing preferences have continuously shifted further and further from the mainstream of the Syrian Blogsphere. There are a dozen Syrian blogs out there which I will continue to read no matter what. Their authors have become enduring friends of mine. I’ve met a few of them and I would love to meet the others. I sporadically read additional blogs depending on the topic of their recent posts as they appear on Syplanet. But unfortunately, instead of finding more interesting reading material with the proliferation of Syrian bloggers the number of what I find captivating had remained constant. The most recent trend is annoying to say the least. People who are deeply committed to a cause, just or not, tend to be boring and really get on my nerves. In that light it’s understandable why I can’t get along with sternly religious folks. They are too serious to take seriously. Granted, they are free to express themselves as they please but they can eventually become a pain in the butt with their righteous persistence.
Not only was I seeking more intellectually stimulating content than the current vexatious craze of religiosity but I also am in dire need to be entertained in this day and age. Life is difficult enough as is. Many of us work and toil to make ends meet and at the end of the day are too exhausted to actually go anywhere. And, when you live, like me, in a small city where very little ever goes on, the internet is our widest window to the rest of the world. Naturally enough, I started my hunt on Syplanet. Are there any new and interesting blogs out there which I have somehow missed or not taken notice of? Don’t Syrian bloggers write anything interesting other than politics, religion or, like me, about nothing at all? I narrowed my search and concentrated on blogs written in English and started randomly clicking on the Syndicated Blogs list. Orchard Blossoms & Moonshine! What in the hell is that? I read the About Us section and became intrigued with the brief yet fascinating depiction the writers chose to present to the rest of the world. Upon further investigation I learned about the myth(s) of Nikkal and Yarikh, two Syrian gods of old. No sooner than I started reading through the blog than I realized that it had to be read from bottom to top. Nikkal and Yarikh are, according to the grapevine, two lovers who are writing to each other and do not mind if the rest of us read their story. I blame them for one thing though, they are not writing enough. I hope they are doing well together.
One thing naturally leads to another, which brings me back to the beginning of this post, not oriental dancing per say but the realm of the erotic. Why do we work so hard on hiding our emotions, feelings, yearnings and longings? These two lovebirds, Nikkal & Yarikh, have one link on their blog roll: Pillow Talk. I clicked expecting to find another romantic or poetry oriented blog but I was in for a huge surprise. Fantasia, as she chose to call herself, is without a doubt one of the most sensual women I have ever read (and seen judging from her personal photo). I have no idea where she’s from. She doesn’t write Erotica, she breathes it in and out and makes it morph into something so wholesomely decent while concurrently being so lewdly amatorial. Obviously she started this blog only recently but she intrigues and excites me beyond reason. She just feels everlasting. She is a woman, the real woman in every woman out there if given the chance. How much more pleasant this world of ours would be if everyone could innocently enough convey Fantasia’s message. No shame, no remorse, no regret, no guilt, no fucking nonsense. We are highly evolved beings that strive on love yet in the course of our infant civilization we have managed to muddy our purity with culpability. We invented religion initially to provide solace and comfort to our restless souls but soon enough our own creation spun out of control and took command of our consciousness. For no reason whatsoever, for no fault of our own we accepted that we are guilty until proven innocent. We had to work so damn hard all of our lives to appease the God who had created us without even giving us the option of not choosing to be born at all. We had an exam to take and that is the only course our lives were meant to follow. Love/Sex became the primary target and the absolute taboo of the religious institution.
Even for me, a man who has broken free out of this vicious guilt trip a long time ago, I was still somehow trapped within the layers upon layers of shame and ignominy. I couldn’t buy an oriental dancer outfit without being senselessly embarrassed. Blogging has helped me a great deal into coming to terms with myself. I now fully accept that I am what I am and it’s the most gratifying feeling any sentient being could ever achieve. It doesn’t matter how old you are, whether you are married, whether you have children, whether you are a professional, whether you are content, whether you are lonely or not. All that matters is to feel the freedom of being alive and conscious without preconditions or limitations.
Thank you Fantasia for showing me that Erotica could be more virtuous than hypocrisy and certainly much more fun. Keep on writing please and make this world a better place to live and love for all of us.
Link to Pillow Talk