Behind the White Wheel

Behind the White Wheel

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hoping for Syria

I still clearly recall the old yellow Syrian taxis traveling on the Beirut – Tripoli highway. As a kid, obsessed with cars, I used to ask my dad, every time we crossed one, about the brand, type and year of manufacturing of a specific car. I used to cross old Desotos, Buicks, Chevrolet…etc. Of course there was no need to ask about the Mercedes-Benz fintails (often seen) and the Mercedes-Benz 180/190 pontons; I was already an expert…
My dad had always a story or a remark related to each model. He used to give me the exact year of manufacturing and how the model was perceived when it first appeared.

Back then, owning a car in Syria wasn’t something easily accessible because of the economic restrictions. People used to preserve their cars and pass them from one generation to the other. Today, years later, these cars have disappeared; replaced by new Hyundai, Kia, Toyota…etc.

Looking back at those days and at the memories I have from the few times I traveled to Damascus visiting some relatives, I wonder if, God forbids, the Syrians lost the unique spirit their cities (Damascus and more precisely Aleppo) had, in the same manner Lebanese lost the unique spirit of Beirut!

Looking at the ruins of the Aleppo’s old souks, I see myself, and without any effort, comparing them to those of Beirut’s old souks! The places where all the people from different background mingle and mix together, these fusion hubs that fortify and unify the society, that make the identity of the Syrian society, are being destroyed!

I can’t but wonder if these destructions are made on purpose! Only time will tell and only the reconstruction process will show!

I hope the Syrians and with the help of strong Syrian public institutions will be able to rebuild their cities “from crap and not from scratch”, as Naomi Klein says! I hope the extremely rich Syrian/ Arab heritage will be preserved, the original roles of the old Souks will be safeguarded and the productive society relying on its resources and creativity will be shining.

Hope and faith are all I have! Till then, I will be once again looking at old yellow pontons, fintails…etc., associating them with gone good days…

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