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Sunday, November 11, 2007 

Jebl Qasiyoun

It was the first time I'd been to Qasiyoun alone. But that's ok. I'm male.
The mountain watches down over us through day and night, summer and winter.
A bright beige in the day, sparkly by night. And at this time of year, the clouds draw patterns on the slopes. Sometimes I stare up at the hill and wonder if the houses over there realise it's sunny on the other side of their neighbourhood.
I couldn't decide whether to walk to the top of Muhajireen, or just pay for a taxi to take me right to the very top, to the row of restaurants and cafes. So i started walking, and in a fit of indecision, jumped in a taxi.
The driver couldn't understand why I was going to Qasiyoun alone. Don't you have a girlfriend, he asked. He told me all about his family. He's from Homs, she's from Tartous. They've got two girls.
100 Lira later I was at the top. I started walking along the ridge. It was the first time I've been there alone, and the first time I've ever had the freedom to walk from end to end.
There weren't many people - and certainly not many in t-shirts. And that's even though it was sunset - Qasiyoun's most beautiful time of day.
I walked past the final restaurant, and past some cars with steamy windows - the mountain has a reputation.
I turned round because it was getting cold, and then, I spotted a couple. But everything wasn't right. He was older, much older. Suddenly she turned around and shouted "why are you walking behind me".
He turned around, sheepishly.
I couldn't stop thinking about it. Why was it alright for me to walk alone, but not for her. Ok, I do get hassled by kids selling chewing gum - but it's not the same.
I wished I'd said something to the man - shouted at him. Or to her. But then I might have added to her sense of threat.
Confused and disgusted, I jumped in a taxi to go back down.
He agreed to 100 Lira, and then started complaining about how cheap people expect the ride down from Qasiyoun to be. Someone wanted to pay 100 Lira to Hamidiyeh. 100 Lira, can you believe it. His grumble was only interrupted by the occasional shout out the window: "taxi?, wayn ryehh?"
Then he saw two girls: "taxi? it's free!"
I asked him what he thought he was doing, offering to give the girls a ride for free. He told me they were Moroccan. And prostitutes.
But they were just walking. They weren't doing anything to make him think they were prostitutes, apart from being women. And alone.
He told me he'd brought them up the hill before.
Yes, because where better to prostitute yourself than the empty Jebl Qasiyoun on a cold autumn night.
His attitude, men's attitudes, are disgusting me.

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  • Written by sasa
  • From Damascus, Syria
  • From Damascus to London via Beirut. Based in and out of the central Damascene hamlet of Saroujah. News and feelings from the streets every day. I'm talking rubbish? Leave a comment. Welcome to the information democracy. See below for info about this site.
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