Magic power of the East
In Syria, I turned out to be somehow completely unexpected for myself. Having spent twenty years with an engineer in one of the Moscow "Jackets", I was sure that with such a tolerance abroad would not get to the end of my days. But at the end of the 93rd switched to the construction company – the electrician: three children, they have to spin. First, I worked in Moscow, and in two years I was in Syria.
Do not think that something for the Syrians was built – exclusively for their own, for the ambassadors: a house for employees, office space, a courtyard for receptions.
Compared to the Syrians, we paid decently – under the contract at 10-hour working day we had to receive $ 400 per month. Rectivated twice as much. But this is when everything is in order: at the slightest inaccuracy – fine. Socket, for example, five millimeters above the norm – pay $ 50. If, God forbid, I drove several days or got into the hospital – the deductions and accounts of the hospital will have to pay for you, but I can send home in general at all. And no break for day heat, when any self-respecting Arab closes the office or shop. Forty degrees in the shadow or hamsin – be kind, work. Syrian workers working with us looked, however, exactly the same – the contract has a contract. Only sometimes they satisfied their interruptions – drink tea – and all of us were called: "Shai, Shay". I tried it, but I couldn’t have done more than one throat – a silent nasty (all Arabs – rare swelling, and tea is not just brewed, as the Europeans are accepted, but cook, and sugar will be scared, without looking). They have tea – a favorite drink, replacing and alcohol, which Muslims drink Quran does not allow, and any cool drinks, and perceived such tea drinking as a mandatory ritual: Sit with a cigarette, drink, do not hurry, your own "Shay", Spoken. Before our construction office there was some. Written in Arabic, so what exactly I do not know. In front of the entrance – table and bench. Arab-chief sits, drinking tea, hookah smokes and backgame with visitors play. And so all day.
But for some reason the coffee is rarely drinking, only black and necessarily with the cardamon. We ask for ordinary coffee in the restaurant, will make big eyes, it will not be brought with shoulders blankly and bring all the same coffee with cardamomon. Although our fault is there – Kardamom in Arabic is called somehow differently, and we just did not understand.
Restaurant, however, was rare entertainment – expensive. Sometimes they went to stroll through the center and went to the cafe or pool, where, while swimming, it was also possible to sit and drink something. Pools in Syria – Family Recreation Place: Muslim Country, it is believed that there is nothing to stare on other people; the man who came to swim in the company of his wife and will watch only on her. The men are allowed, but the ticket is three times more expensive for them. We diligently did the form that our ladies are about to come, and bought family tickets, and an employee rode through three hours:"Madame Mafi (no)?". I had to pay extra.
Famous Arabic statement that "Arabs live on dates, bread, rice and milk" The root is incorrect and concerns only Bedouin nomads. From the poor experience of visiting Damascian restaurants I found out that they still like to eat, a lot and tasty. Favorite Dish – Shakap, Local Skewers. Prepare it from lamb and eat everything and everywhere. And also respect kebab from lamb, chicken or fish (no relation to our "Lulle-kebab" does not have) and amazing shawarma, remotely reminiscent of the dish, served in Moscow eaters. And for a snack – pellets with incomprehensible, but quite edible white gravy. Fish Syrians consume, but exclusively – fried or boiled, our love for salting and smoked, not separating. We somehow tried to treat the excellent Moscow herring of one local buddy. Sure was that would be delighted. The next day I ask: "Well, like a herd?" He somehow strangely: "Not good". It turned out, he washed her first with soap, then cleaned and fucked.
The herring was preoccated to us, because in Syria to buy it nowhere. That to other products, everything was bought in two or three shops, the main of which is the most beloved for the whole Russian public – "In Claud". The owner of the store – Arab named Claude, owning English, French and Russians, which has gained glory among our. They are a lot of them in Damascus – except for the embassy and Russian specialists working in Damascus, there is still a huge martial representation. So, about the shop of Claude – all local attractions were concentrated for many of our builders. Sold there any ham, drink, fish – dried, smoked, fresh. The same Claude our people working in Damascus, especially the military, revered hardly for the saint. Would you see them! Come, waiting for every personally greeted, and, rubbing red necks, bequeatically drinking the proposed koror – as free treats. Wine this Claude received from the Maaaal Monastery and necessarily treated them visitors. I do not know how much this treat was free, no one checked the accounts, but with me no Russian military from such dubious freebies could not refuse.
However, it was possible to get in Claude not only products. One of ours instead of buying the curtains ordered in Moscow in any store, addressed it to Claud – probably counting the habit that the thoroughly will be better. I do not know how about quality, but it was clearly not cheaper.
Troubleshooting, still in Moscow we all signed a contract. Assuming the maximum duties from workers and no responsibility from the employers. All questions – one answer: "I do not like – do not sign, wishing enough". I tried to set out my special opinion, but I politely noticed that it is better not necessary. In Moscow, everyone warned everyone that drunkenness was considered the main provinity. Punished strictly for drunk, right up to expulsion from the country and termination of the contract. Drank only sometimes in a little bit – inexpensive local anise vodka "Arc". A strange thing, drinking to Muslims alcohol can not, but do, it turns out, you can. Yes, what: 53 degrees. Vodka delicious, just get used to it – a lot of anisa. Usually the weekend had to Saturday – the Arabs rest on Fridays, and we were given the opportunity to relax on another day, when at least shops are open. If there were a lot of work, worked without days off. Then they gave two to three days, which could be held at their discretion. Options Two: Drink at home with friends or go somewhere. I preferred the last – hitting for the first time abroad, I spent all my free time on rides around the country. See what, and cost this pleasure cheap.
At the first opportunity, we went to Maalulul, a small village relatively not far from Damascus, where two monasteries are located at once – female, Mar Talala (Monastery of St. Fekla), and male, Mar Sarkis (Monastery of St. Sergius). The female monastery is beautiful, but not the old, last century, but the male is almost two millennia, there are extraordinary ancient sculptures, not destroyed to the end of Arabs. But my favorite place in Syria is, of course, Latakia. Actually, Latakia itself is a huge agricultural province, and inhabit its farmers: families are huge and obviously with sufficiency, manually in the fields by a trench, nobody worms, preferring to work on Japanese tractors. And Latakia is famous for the Mediterranean coast, on which there are many luxury hotels, and not Europeans live in them, and the nonsense tourists from Saudi Arabia. They come in autumn, on cars and with a harem. Here we went there for two or three days. Lived, understandable, not in hotels, but in private houses – with comfort and inexpensive. And next to the fabulous mountain latakia, the castles of the Crusaders, cut down in the rocks, nature, resembling our north or Karelia. And the last our journey was in Lebanon. There, our brigade worked, so for the day they did a letter – in no way, they say, without us, they can not cope – and no problems. Our all lit up: free economic zone, duty-free trade. And it turned out that beauty there is extraordinary! We drove along the Bekaa Valley, watched Baalbek – the famous temple ensemble, built in Roman times. Temples, unfortunately, almost not survived – suffered from recent earthquakes – but it all impressed. In the territory and Lebanon, and Syria from Roman and Byzantine times have preserved quite a lot, although even more was destroyed. Even the main Damascus Mosque of Omeyadov is built on the spot where they once stood by replacing each other, the Aramaic temple, the temple of Jupiter and Basilica. Zechariah, rebuilt by the Arab Caliph in the Mosque – the case for Muslims is usual.
As for museums in Damascus, there would be a desire. The entire center of the Syrian capital – Museum. Many buildings presented in the guidebook as museums in fact – just residential buildings. You go, throw 50 pounds to the owner, and everyone will gladly show you and tell you – many somehow speak English or in French. And see what. Stunning architecture, on the walls of ancient painting and mosaic. In addition, you can go to any mosque or in my madrasa. Even the women who, at the entrance, give a special black cape with a hood.
There are, of course, the National Museum, and the Museum of Damascus, and the Weapon Museum – they say stunning. That’s just for me it remains a mystery, as they get there. The only source of information was a Damascus Guide. Poddavaya time, I went there, but I invariably stumbled upon the castle. On the doors of the inscription in Arabic, not to ask. Probably and here the Arabs are obeying only to them in one well-known rules, which I never managed to comprehend.
In general, hitting Syria, I realized that such a nationality – "Syrian" – In nature does not exist. Representatives of all sorts of nations in Syria Apparently invisible: Iranians, Iraqis, Kurds, Palestinians. Each has their own pronunciation changing familiar words beyond recognition. And each other they are all, with external benevolence, can not tolerate. The familiar Kurd, trying to explain to me the reason for his negative attitude towards the Arabs, briefly declared:"Kurd – "CES" (good), Arab – "Mukoes" (poorly)".
In addition to Muslims, in Damascus, a relatively many Christian population. There are whole Christian districts, the main of which is BbTUUM, and the churches of any, Orthodox, Armenian, Catholic, Lutheran. Christians live in their own laws, regardless of the Muslim city, without observing local traditions, pork and alcohol are sold in stores, and they are even open in Muslim holidays.
Almost the only view of public transport in the capital of Syria – a route taxi. Route ticket costs from three to five pounds (6 – 10 cents), which is not consistent even with modest Syrian salaries. We were practically unavailable to this transport, since the route signs on the machines were only in Arabic. And we used the usual taxi: 25 pounds (halfdollar) – and you are in the center. Taxi is used, regardless of well-being, and understand the poor Syrians or rich, it is impossible. In the poor area – solid dilapidated shacks, and on the roofs – modern satellite antennas, and before the entrance of the BMW, even if not too new. And everywhere stone floors – because of the heat and dust: Damascus is located at the foot of the Sand Mount Kasyun, and at the slightest wind, the city is covered with sandy dust from the mountain. Saved in one way – the floors constantly wash. Poured a bucket of water to the floor, then the rubber brush drive it to the drain hole. We use carpets, but only during meals, after the meal, the carpet turns over. We are talking about such a dinner with the carpet – a familiar Arab Taxi driver invited to himself.
True, as it turned out, it was not at all a random acquaintance, but an employee of Mukhabarat (something like our KGB), ceased to us, – so people who know people explained to us. In the country there is a real dictatorship of the Mughabarat, which unites the criminal and political police. If you happen to see, let’s say, somewhere before the entrance of a person in civilian clothes and with "Kalashnikov", Be sure – before you a local representative "organs". Our people who have worked for a while in Damascus, consider the current Syrian regime of a certain similarity of our 37th year. Mukhabarats are all afraid, and you can scatter anyone than we used from time to time. For example, in a taxi when the driver calls a clearly overestimated price. Enough to pronounce the magic word "Mukhabarat", And all OK. What to say, tight communication with the Soviet Union has not passed for the Syrians in gift – they had excellent teachers.
This regime has and unpleasant even for us: no telephone installed in a private apartment has no way out to other countries. Very necessary – call from the negotiation point. We could use the Embassy phones, but, you know, contact "Embassy" With a request – the pleasure is small.
But what local authorities do not pay attention at all, so it’s on transport. Go, what do they want and how they want. Mainly on bicycles. Everyone goes on them, regardless of age, and on road signs spit. The driver who fell on a pedestrian or cyclist is waiting for a terrible fate – the crowd clogs his sticks. The cyclist calmly crosses the street, anywhere, – across, painshock, in front of the bus nose. Also, however, as the driver of any other transport – both personal and public. If the bus driver standing in the right row remembers suddenly that he just urgently need to turn left, he calmly sucks his left hand into the window. Around are concerned and refused: it is necessary to man. Our driver was trying to follow the rules for the first three months. Then I realized that it was useless, and began to ride like all.
They say, Arabs trade among all classes – in the first place. Looks like the truth, because the markets (the market in Arabic – "Suk") in Damascus – Hamediya, Southje, Bzurie, everyone has its own specialization, which we have managed to study, because they only visited them: in the stores expensive. The most famous and oldest is Hamedia. Vegetable and fruit on it can not buy, but in excess – any clothes, household goods, decorations, hookahs, spices. In fact, Hamediya unites many different markets: Golden bitch, electric and t. D. I constantly had to go to the electric bitch – some kind of car it, tools. Somehow went outside the light bulbs, and, explaining the seller on the fingers, what I needed, I found out that there is no such thing. Seller, frightened that I will leave, asked to wait and ten minutes, running into the next store, appeared with the right lights. It is done quickly, since everything is concentrated on a small penchant, and, not finding in one shop necessary, it is enough to go to the next door. The only rule: carefully to watch that you take – so that you do not run into junk. And bargain: not even knowing a word in Arabic, you will be understood by the seller – if he wants.
The most wonderful market in Damascus – Bzuria, where medicinal herbs and spices are sold. There are also all sorts of Syrian seasonings, and nuts, and flowers that help with colds, and butter against baldness, and even stone Hajar Luke, expelled devil. I submitted everything in the same guidebook about the amazing natural doping called Hantit, I went for him to Bzuria. Hantitis turned out to be an indefinite color plastic mass, every day I had to disjust it from her piece. The guide and the seller assured that or rather to increase the tone not to find. Hoping a few days and not feeling anything, I threw it out. In vain, probably, but now it is difficult to check it out: leaving Damascus, I forgot my Hantit in the refrigerator, and now, I must never believe in the magical power of Eastern Drugs.
And returning home, I thought that it would be nice for a year later to go to work somewhere. Minus that alone, without a family, and so the choice is: many of our brigade managed to work in Germany, in China. In China, however, do not advise – the climate is not a gift, at least where our build. But to the Germans, perhaps, it would be possible to go. Rolling, they say, they will have to be black, but after all, I want to see the world.