Friday, June 21, 2013

My Old Neighborhood: Midan

I grew up in a conservative Muslim district of Damascus, Syria. On my last few visits to Syria, I've filmed interviews and scenery for documentary projects that are still in the works.

One time, strangely without my camera (probably because it was after dark and after 10 PM), my father drove me through the old neighborhood to satisfy my craving for real falafel. He told me that our old street (we've moved across town) has become known as "the kitchen of Damascus."

Like all of Damascus, the street comes to life after sundown when the air cools down. So all the stores open too. Late in the evening, expecting truckers and other late diners, the local vendors take over part of the street with tables for their patrons. We drove through one part of the street that had always been a fairly busy market, but now is teeming with eateries.

I realized as we passed that my Canon Powershot could shoot movies. Not being confident in its ability to shoot in low light, I only shot one minute and thirteen seconds, in the brightest part of the street. Of course I wish I had more and higher quality footage, but this is what I have and I'm sharing it with you. This is Damascus nightlife in an old neighborhood taken on November 8, 2010, before all the trouble began.

If you watch closely, you will see a candy store, a baker with hareesa and milk pudding out on a table, a nut roaster (see the metal drum on a pedestal?), a falafel and hummus maker, chicken roasters, an olive merchant, a small grocery store with sacks of rice outside, and several shawarma shops.

If you try to find this video on youtube you need to use the keywords Midan and food. If you only use Midan, the video is buried under loads of other videos. The title is "Midan: Kitchen of Damascus."


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