If you've lost your way in Syria then just ask

Last week I was in London and raving about the street cleaners knowledge of their city. This week I’m in Damascus, Syria – yes, my friends all give me a hard time about the ‘jet setter’ that I am – to learn Arabic over the next five weeks. And this morning it was a street cleaner who took me, along with his cart, to the building where I was having my Arabic lesson.

Everyone here – admittedly the men – is really friendly and willing to help with directions. The reason I chose Damascus over other Arab capitals such as Cairo and Beirut was two fold. I had never been and I also heard Syrians are proud to speak Arabic, even with foreigners who stumble, get the masculine/feminine/pronoun endings of verbs wrong and generally confuse the listener while being confused themselves. And my first four days have proven this to be true.

Today I had a hilarious trudge through the souk to meet up with my fellow classmates, realizing only halfway through that I had inadvertently switched from asking for directions to the garden to asking how to get to the handbag. The three of us, the two men selling water and I, had a good laugh.

Hopefully I won’t make that mistake again soon.

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