“I need some dates, spices and zaatar halabi, Ramadan might be tomorrow”, my mum said to my dad when we were sitting all together enjoying our morning coffee on the terrace. I suggested to my dad that I would accompany him when he went shopping.
Ramadan is very important month for Muslims. Not only is there fasting and special prayers, but there is a special atmosphere, with special food, and it is followed by the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.
By the evening, we knew that Ramadan would start the next day, and we would have to go shopping. The next morning, I went with my dad to the old market.
The shops in that market were very close to each other. We went to Souq Alatareen, and the smell in that souq was incredible – a mix of spices smell, the famous Alghar soap and zaatar halabi.
There were special products in the market that only appeared during Ramadan. And shopkeepers would find an excuse to put up some nice decorations.
Dates are always very special during Ramadan. You would find them on each dining table in every house.
The souq in the old city was a covered market, with little holes in the ceiling that would let the sun in. The light danced on smiling faces. People enjoyed a bit of sun as it was cold weather at that time.
People were always happy and hopeful in this blessed month. They hoped Ramadan would bring love, forgiveness, blessings, and patience.
That day, the souq shoppers were in a rush – everyone wanted to get his or her stuff before the fast broke at sunset.
As I write these memories now, I can picture a remarkable moment when a lady buying her groceries in the souq did not have enough money to pay for all the stuff she bought.
She asked the seller if she could return a couple of items, but he refused. He asked her to pay later, and if she could not pay, it would be OK – God would forgive her in this blessed month.
It was a beautiful moment – and yet, if there were no such nice people in this world, it could have been a disaster.
Life in the souk, Aleppo by Fulvio Spada / CC by 2.0
Aleppo souk by Mr Theklan / CC by 2.0
This is a lovely story. It reminds me of a time I was trying to get home from Quito in Ecuador. I had no money left and found out I had to pay an extra airport tax. Unable to pay I was told I’d have to stay in Ecuador. I was crying. But then a lovely young Ecuadorian woman, the same age as my daughters, paid the tax for me and wouldn’t let me pay her back. The kindness of strangers is very precious.
If I close my eyes I can feel this market
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