I have always been fascinated by other cultures and I love to sit down with people I never met and just ask them everything about their life. It’s important to stay curious and it’s so interesting to listen to other people’s lives, how they grew up and what daily life can look like in a different part of the world. I have therefore started my own little interview project that will be published here on the blog. I will interview people from different countries and background, obviously with my own extremely smart questions and we will take it from there.
First out * drums * : Mohamad Al Karbi from Syria!
Why Syria and Mohamed?
Because when I first started traveling to the Middle East 2011 I had Syria on my top of my list of countries that I wanted to visit the most. Unfortunately we all know what happened and it’s a very sad situation that we all wish will end sooner then later. I want to focus on Syria before the war and from a positive angle. A lot of people have left the country but the country hasn’t left the people. I want to hear what’s in their history and in the hearts.
And Mohamed! Obviously because he has such a nice and thought through blog and shares the same interest as me when it comes to being curious about other cultures and countries. He loves Sweden apparently so that’s a plus. I love the fact that these answers are not only from Mohamed but his family wanted to take part as well.
Please enjoy my short and sweet interview and the beautiful pictures that Mohamed has provided. Does it make you hungry? I’m going out for hummus now!
Thank you very much, Miss A, for giving me the opportunity to talk about Syria on your wonderful blog. Please note that the following answers were prepared by my whole family. We sat together for an hour or some drinking coffee and answering the interview’s questions 🙂
Q: Pretend it’s 2010, a time before the war started. What would you tell a tourist to do in Syria?
A: We hope the war ends soonest, so we can invite you all to visit Syria – a beautiful Mediterranean country. Every part of Syria has its own charm. We have deserts, mountains, ruins and cultures, coastal areas and green areas across the country. I need many posts to cover them all. However, I’m going to mention two places for now in Damascus: Old City and Bloudan.
You may visit my Syria’ album at Flickr on:
Q: According to archeologist the Syrians have been drinking beer and wine for 4000 years. That makes me think I might be Syrian. Tell us more.
A: Damascus is the world oldest capital where the most delicious wine is made. Syria has the best grape vines, olive trees, and citrus fruits. Fresh grapes and citrus juice, or even barley juice, can do it for non-alcoholics. P.S., some argue that Damascus is the oldest city ever.
Q: Is it correct that Syria used to be famous for having the most beautiful railway stations in the world?
A: Hijaz station is the oldest railway in the area that is connecting Makkah with Damascus. As they are old and usually pass through beautiful places in Syria, trains are very suitable for families’ gathering; they are used mainly for the sake of fun and picnics.
Q: If you had to choose, which animals would the Syrians be if you weren’t humans and why?
A: Hmm!!! If we had to, I can say that we have the best of each 😉 Patience from camel, power/determination from eagle, humbleness from gazelle, …
Q:Which weird kind of food do Syrians eat?
A: Syria is very famous with the variety of dishes. Most of them are complicated and prepared on multiple levels until the final dish be ready. I consider Ozzie a weird food; baked dough stuffed with rice, meat, peas, and nuts!
Q: In Sweden we take out shoes off when entering a house. What kind of customs do someone that hasn’t been to a Syrian home need to think about before entering?
A: Oh my God, we do the same! All are to take shoes off before entering the house – often. Guests sit in the place assigned to by the hosts in a specific room (guests room). Appointment for visiting isn’t required in general; however, we ask for permission before entering… When food is offered, guests should have some (at least).
In general, all Syrians have the mentality of hospitality. If the invitation is for meal, the food should be home-made prepared by the land lady. To celebrate the guests, the host’s neighbors, friends, and family members might be invited to attend the gathering too.
There are morning gatherings for house wives on a periodic basis and usually they’re served by light delicacies. Female neighbors, even if they are foreigners, could expect an invitation. Relatively in weddings, the family of the bride and bridegroom usually welcome guests for 7 days after the wedding or after the newly born babies. P.S., wedding parties, originally, are not mixed – one party for men and a sperate one for women.
Q: Who wins the hummus war? I understand this is a sensitive question between Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan.
A: Hummus was originated in the Levant – centuries ago. The Levant (was referred to as Greater Syria) consists of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan. Each of which has its own tasty recipe of making this traditional dish.
Q: The Syrians seems to be extremely social. Why is that? (This is a very Swedish question as we are not really known to be super social)
A: It’s in our blood. We are connected and very interrelated to the max. We share happiness and sadness with all our neighbors, families, and friends.
For example, in marriage, the family of the bride might collect information about the bridegroom’s profile from his neighborhood before giving the final acceptance. Another example is when you ask someone in the street about the direction to some place; they might not leave you until they make sure that you reached your destination. Furthermore, we might also offer advices even without being asked for…
Thanks for reading and hope you learnt something about Syria. You can find Mohamads blog here and previous blog post we have done together before, about Sweden, can be found here.