Today, I am in Damascus, Syria. It’s a big city with all the big city issues—traffic, pedestrians and to much honking. But there are also stark differences—especially when it coes to cultural differences. First, the main religion is Muslin, That means that the majority of local women wear either habibs(scarves to cover their hair) or burkas (full body cover from head to toe with only an opening for the eyes). At times, walking through the ancient streets is like walking through a sea of black.
What I like most though is to watch them watching us. Syria is many things but it isn’t a tourist area. There are a few here and there, but very few, Factor in that Alex and I walk around with our heads uncovered and our ar and calves showing and suddenly, we’re a bit of a sideshow. Mostly, I see the women watching us.. A few of the older one frown but most look at us with curiosity—much like I look at them. And when I smile, they smile back.
So while there are glaring cultural distinctions, there are similarities that serve to remind me that people are people and that maybe we’re not so so different after all.