الجار قبل الدار
” Coffee is boiling, Coffee is ready!” She said, ” I am coming!” she replied. This is how a morning conversation would start in a typical Syrian neighbourhood.
Syrians are famous for their generosity and hospitality. A harmonious relationship with our neighbours is very important in our culture, so much so that we have a saying that underlines this special relationship. It states that ‘Choosing our neighbours take priority over choosing our house’ (al-jar kabel al-dar) الجار قبل الدار.
I do have amazing memories about my lovely neighbourhood. My neighbours felt more like family to us. My mum used to have coffee almost everyday with the families surrounding our home. They would share and discuss life lessons, cooking recipes, the latest news & updates about our extended community.
In Syria, you will never feel lonely for even a minute. Someone always seems to be there for you, someone who looks after you when you are facing problems, someone who runs to celebrate your success and dances along with your achievements. I miss this over here…although my work colleagues resemble what I used to have back home, they also feel like family to me.
I do remember during Eid holidays and local festivities, particularly on occasions such as child birth, weddings &, yes, also funerals, we used to share different kinds of delicious Syrians dishes with our neighbours. Not to forget the famous inter balcony chats- for the quick catch up- when duty is calling & you still couldn’t resist an express catch up session with your curious next door companions.
Ramadan was particularly memorable. We used to share food around Iftar time, you’d run into neighbours in the hallway holding one particular dish, almost reaching out by default, knowing that you would be reciproking their generous gift with a home made delight from your end.
Closing my eyes & travelling back to when things were innocent & sweet- the first thing that enters my nose is the smell of Jasmine which one would find hanging down from balconies. I remember my days as a little girl when playing hide and seek behind the trees and rocks, where we used to run to the fig tree
to pluck the unripe figs to taste, only realising later, that in life, just like with this precious fruits, we need to be more patient to get fruitful results.
My beloved Syria is a beautiful & charming country – my home, my roots, my destiny & my land. It is where I used to run with my wings wide open in the fields, and swim in the crystal blue Mediterranean Sea.
Syria, where people lived peacefully, everyone united under one name – SYRIANS.
Syria has been a country that has welcomed refugees from all around the world. My great grandparents came as refugees to Syria from Greece, from Crete Island. They stayed in ( Al-Hamidiyah) in Tartus city, where they found peace, love and tranquillity.
History, castles and the land of the Phoenix are connected to this cradle of civilisations.
It is here that I realised that learning does not begin only in schools and books. Learning is about experiences, going to the olive harvest in September or even having coffee with your neighbours, all this to me an everlasting learning experience and lessons of life.
I have learned that seeds of knowledge can be found in many places- yet, first & foremost, in your memories.