stories from the souq

Linds has been looking for a new shirt for quite some time now. We thought we’d hit a winner in the Aleppo souq with a t-shirt boldly proclaiming “I Love Syria” – good fit; decent quality and an undeniable novelty factor – although it didn’t take us long to start questioning the shirt’s utility. In the end, we gave it a miss – we already have doubts about our suitability for admission into Israel, let alone if the border guards found one of those in our backpacks – although we concluded that sales might increase if they also offered a line of shirts that more accurately reflected the attitudes of Syria’s neighbours, to cater to the needs of overland travellers: “I tolerate Syria”, or maybe “Syria: less hated than Israel.” They reckon this souq will yield up just about anything there is to buy, but this might prove a bridge too far.
What is available in the souq, amongst a dizzying array of other items, is an alarming amount of raunchy lingerie. Thousands of maribou must have been sacrificed to meet this sort of demand. And while lilac spangly bits aren’t quite to my taste, there is something delightful about a chador-clad woman shoving a gold-sequinned bodysuit into her shopping bag as she thrusts a fistful of notes at the shopkeeper, an elderly, bearded man in a long robe and prayer cap. Had the writers of SATC 2 paid a visit here as part of the script-writing process, they might have avoided being branded as Islamophobes.
Some interesting tout techniques going on here too. Fat, young guy with a fag held in a pout between his lips shouts “Madam! My scarves, they are very expensive! Ah, sh*t… I mean, cheap! Cheap!” Admittedly, it had us laughing but when we heard him make the gaff a second and third time, the gig was up.

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