I liked it especially in the mornings, when the sun was warm, yet weak enough not to bother us early risers. First I would salute the owner of the little shop next to the monastery. We would exchange few sentences and a smile. The cafes and restaurants would just be opening up, with their beautiful Damascene decoration and wooden chairs. I could almost hear the saxophone melody from last night’s party.
I would pass the bank staff, gathered smoking morning cigarettes as they tried to wake up. Then the narrow, lively pavement opened into the main path right before the arch. I always felt I would run into someone I knew coming the other way. The feeling continued until I stepped through the gate out of Old Damascus, and woke up from my brief daydream.
It is difficult to describe how much I miss those curved narrow alleyways, so rich with history, soul and heritage. You might expect to feel small in those thousand-year-old alleyways. In fact I felt so whole and complete. This three-minute walk contained some of the most precious and calm moments of my life. It was my own morning meditation.
Images: Street leading to Bab Sharqi, 1921; Bab Sharqi, 1880
James Gordon, via Creative Commons