Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hama in Noisy Motion

My abiding memory of Hama is the creaking noise of the turning of the enormous wheels called norrias that are scattered in the centre of town. Because both wheel and axle are made of wood, nothing works as a lubricant to induce a graceful flow. So an unearthly groaning, suggestive of a wounded extra-terrestrial dinosaur, breaks out from their motion. I saw one man hopefully trying to throw water on one. Did this help? It didn't seem to but maybe it limits damage in the long run. I'm no expert.

I'd read that young boys jump from the planks that push the water round as they turn but alas they weren't out and about when I was there.

In addition to the wheels, there's a hill that nothing seems to be on the top of, and the first modern shopping centre I'd seen in Syria. As well as this, there are some interesting lanes in and around the old city but, as I've written earlier, Hama suffered considerably during the bombings of 1982, when the whole city was besieged by the Government, so it's not quite what it was.

Finally, after twelve days in Syria I got on a bus for Damascus. And what a bus, not like any I'd seen. The seats were that light beige colour you find in swanky mercedes and jaguars; and so was their comfort, while the leg room was excessive and highly welcome. In considerable luxury I read up about Damascus and looked forward to the capital.

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