When I wake up in Damascus the first word that comes into my mind is ‘shopping’.
Ignoring the map and following the people – as advised – I enter the Old City. The arched roof lets spots of light shine through where bullets pierced the corrugated iron during a 1925 uprising. It’s very relaxed here, with people strolling past well-ordered stalls of women’s fashions. It’s all terribly civilized without the visceral quality on show in Anatkya’s market or the impersonal feel of high street chains.
Later on at a cafe a Syrian who now lives in the States describes the Damascus souk to me as the world’s oldest covered shopping mall.
It certainly seems to say, ‘Imitate, but we invented it and understand it best.’