As part of our effort to highlight civilian stories, below is a conversation between News Deeply and a 26-year-old artist living in Damascus. He’s a progressive Sunni who takes huge pride in the culture of his city. We asked him to share his impressions of what’s happening in Syria’s capital.
The movement of people through the city each morning is almost normal, but full of sad faces. Some people are voicing their concerns, they generally express that they’re exhausted. While going to work in the morning they sometimes hear gunshots and explosions, and they wonder, ‘Why am I going to work? Sometime just died in that gunfire.’
There is more traffic now in the central parts of Damascus, because there are more checkpoints, more closed streets around the city. Damascus looks like an Army barrack, with checkpoints everywhere.
There are some places you want to reach that are nearby, but now take a long time to get to because there are so many checkpoints. Normally it would take a few minutes but now it takes forever, they are checking car by car. In some places the public transportation has stopped.
After 7pm there’s hardly anyone in the streets, the cars and the traffic have disappeared. People stay at home.
If you go out at 11pm at night, you’ll feel that you’re an adventurer. If you see another person in the street you’ll think that he’s crazy, because it’s so dangerous. But despite all this, there are still some people in cafes at night. Those cafes that serve nerguilehs (water pipes) are immune to all this, they don’t seem to be affected by anything. Prices are rising all the time, every day. There is bread, there’s no major shortage. [Editor’s Note: In contrast, in Aleppo, shortages of bread are surfacing every few weeks.]
There is fuel for our cars, but from time to time there is the occasional shortage. That’s why you might see crowds in front of the gas stations.
There’s cooking oil, but each container costs 1,000 Syrian pounds [Editor’s Note: it used to cost 300-400 pounds. In Aleppo it’s now well over 2,500 pounds]. That’s apart from the fact that sometimes you buy a container of oil, and find that you’ve been cheated — it’s just water inside.