What is home?

I stopped writing a while ago because the theme of my blog was meant to send my voice from Syria to the rest of the world. I moved to Turkey and had to make myself a new life in a country that was very close to home, but also very far. In Turkey, I always felt that this was not my final destination. I learnt enough Turkish to survive, buy my food, and have enough conversation while having a good pretext to not discuss politics, Syria, and what is happening there. Once I am asked about these things I smile and say “excuse me, I don’t understand Turkish well”.

This September I also have to reinvent myself, the idea of home and relationships. I was lucky to get a scholarship to continue my master’s degree in London. The process took a whole year but I got my visa very late so I had to leave Turkey in two days. I was left alone among all the things I have bought to make my house feel like a home. Around me were The small Christmas lights that I use throughout the whole year, my nice blue carpet, my pink glass light that I bought in one of my trips to Cappadocia, my sticky notes, the love letters (yes I am old fashioned), the toaster which means a lot to me because that was the first kitchen piece I bought to feel home, and etc… I had to pack one suitcase of 30kg including my winter and summer clothes in one night. I didn’t have time to think. I gave away everything and kept my warm clothes because I will need them in London. I tried not to think of the sentimental value of things and be practical otherwise.

In two days here I am, in London. Although I lived in Istanbul before, but London seems to be more daunting, colder, and less welcoming. I get into my room. It has a big window that has a view on a park and a desk near the window. I have been here for a week now, and I didn’t buy any of the essential things I need. I don’t have a mug or a plate. All the little things that we think are little, they matter in the end. The salt and pepper jar, the spoons and forks… I have to start all over again, and make this room be my new home for the next year. What will happen after this? I don’t know where my home will be.

I started with hanging the only artwork I brought with me, which is a calligraphy in Arabic that says “Love is my religion”. I hanged it and looked at the wall, but it still looks empty. Then on another thought, I decided to keep this room as it is; cold, beige and soulless. There is no room for more emotional attachment to things and places. I should focus on doing what I am here to do and think of the room as the physical space that allows me to do what I am doing… Is this right? No. Am I going to really do this? Again, NO. These are just the frustration thoughts of my first week here. In the End, I will fill this room with colors and lights, and then I will leave it with a heart break.

I think my relationship with homes and cities is like love relationships. I always want them to last forever, but they won’t and they can’t. They will break your heart and ask you to leave. There is a piece of my heart in every house I lived in, and in every city I lived in. I hope London will be nice to me when I give her its little piece…a new place to call homelove is my religion

Damascus … simply you

Syria… Damascus… a name as refreshing as a breeze carrying the smell of rain in a starry cold night…

it’s raining here today.. the rain makes me want to cry. A Spaniard friend of mine always wondered why middle eastern 10523170_10205292358498266_3824746113507264245_npeople love the rain this much . he surely never tried walking in the old city when it’s drizzling and bringing all the magical odors from the earth straight to your inner brain cells.. I always felt that cities are alive, they have souls, some are sick souls, some are weak, but the soul of Damascus is like the soul of our first love … it never fades away, it gets back vivid and clear like the very first moment … you live it , then you think you’ll leave peacefully but you find yourself  trapped in the faces of people, in every little detail even the ugly ones, in the faces of beggars of the streets … you suddenly fall in love with the crowded streets and the noises of the hawkers..

Damascus is … Simply Damascus .. the city of magic and passion… a walk from my city to my city (I live in it still)  made me recall all the love I carry though I thought it’s gone … just like the first love…

as we walked in the alleys of the old city, my professor rehearsed a verse by Nizar Qabbani:

The Damascene House
Is beyond the architectural text
The design of our homes…
Is based on an emotional foundation

Damascus top view

Damascus top view

For every house leans… on the hip of another
And every balcony…
Extends its hand to another facing it
Damascene houses are loving houses…
They greet one another in the morning…
And exchange visits… secretly at night 

Al Azm palace

  Al Azm palace