Hello my dear readers, how are you faring in these challenging times? I hope and pray you are well and if not that you have all the support you need.
Today we venture further East into Syria. This is a very troubled country close to my heart. The father and ex-husband of one of my best friends come from Syria. Many moons ago, I met her then-parents-in-law who live in Aleppo. For all those who do not know: Aleppo was one of the first cities destroyed in the war which still rages even though we hear hardly anything about it. It is quieter than it was a couple of years ago, but still ongoing in some parts.
Aleppo used to be a university city both with liberal and conservative Muslim citizens living together peacefully. As far as I remember, the current president’s father suppressed a revolt of different groups in the 1970s which seems to be the beginning of this latest war. People have been killed by gas, all sides blaming each other for having used it. Once thriving cities with beautiful buildings and exotic markets are destroyed, many of their citizens living in refugee camps all over the region. Covid hits them very hard as they have no possiblity of socially distancing or of hightened hygiene. This is absolutely tragic.
It is especially tragic as it is one battleground that Russia and Turkey seem to take over thus becoming more powerful in the region with their own agendas. Who knows what that results in in the future.
I have also met a friend of a friend who is from Syria and what she told me of the country showed me an extremely beautiful place with a long history and great culture. I can only repeat: what happened in Syria is tragic and shows how fast a once civilised country can fall into chaos and war.
So let’s find out more and come away to Syria
1. Introduction to Syria
I have to say this was one of the most difficult to create playlists I’ve done so far for “Come Away With Me”. It makes all the difference if you know people who live or lived in a place devastated by war. And while I have no contact to these people anymore, it devastates me to see what they have to suffer.
Please try and watch it all. I apologize for the sometimes strange adverts within these videos. The creators need to make a living and that is what makes their income. Please follow them if you like their videos to give their work some support. Thanks.
2. An Artist of Syria
Like many other Syrians filmmaker Diana El Jeiroudi left Syria and now lives in Berlin. She has made several short and feature length films about life in Syria. One about what it means to be a woman in Muslim culture. It was called “The Pot”. The film we can see here is about the Muslim equivalent to the Barbie Doll. El Jeiroudi was the first Syrian who was invited to be a juror at the Cannes Film Festival and to become a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I think she is certainly someone to look out for.
As far as I remember, my friend who lived in Aleppo for a couple of years in the 1990’s said, that there has always been this dualism in Syrian Muslim culture. You had the more modern Muslims who allowed themselves to drink alcohol and whose women did not wear any scarves or hijabs. Then there were the ultraorthodox Muslims who followed the conservative interpretation of Islam with women dressed in long black dresses and hijabs and no one drinking alcohol. This went so far, that my friend who married in Aleppo had to have two wedding parties because the conservative part of their families would not have come if it was a liberal occasion. And that does not do in the cultures of the Middle East. All have to be invited, as far as I can understand.
3. The Climate and Syria
So today again there won’t be a climate activist because I stumbled over information that the Western media did not share about Syria. I was not aware that the climate crisis might have played a factor in the Syrian war. This video is from the independend think tank adelphi from Berlin and is from 2015:
4. Food of Syria
We’ve already seen a little about the food in Syria in Eva zu Beck’s video in the introduction. My friend and her family introduced me to Middle Eastern food and I have never looked back. They introduced me to hummus and the lovely tradition to have a bowl of sweets in the hallway of every house to help yourself when you arrive and when you leave.
To me Middle Eastern culture is deeply connected with what they call “Gastfreundschaft” in Germany. Literally translated this would mean “Guestfriendship” but it usually translates to “hospitality”. You would always be invited to a big meal if you visit a Middle Eastern family and it would be rude to decline. It is even tradition to invite strangers into your house especially if they are in need of help. I seem to remember that this is one of the seven pillars of Islam tying into the tradition to give 2.5% of your income to charity.
To me, Islamic radicalism has nothing to do with Islam or Muslim Culture. As much as no group in the Northern Irish conflict had anything to do with Christianity. The holy scriptures of both religions in my opinion were and are misused to bring through an agenda to grab power and that never works. That is where religion loses it’s validity. Sorry, I digress. Let’s see some food of Syria:
And if you now are in a creative mood find some Syrian recipes here at Syrian Food and more information about the country.
5. A Poetess of Syrian Roots
Ok, I cheat a little here. Amal Kassir has Syrian roots but lives in the United States. However, I got drawn in by her performance poetry fighting for justice and tolerance and we need this so much today. Find her homepage here and her biography here.
6. Mental Health in Syria
You can imagine that with such a violent conflict raging around you that many of the Syrian people need help with their mental health. Here is a short video by the WHO explaining how this is fascilitated. Sorry this video is in Arabic with English subtitles
7. Some musicians of Syria
Ok, just a short video playlist for your entertainment
And where are we going next week?
Come Away With Me 2021 Musical Challenge Country for Monday, January 25th, 2021
I am taking a rather random route around the world, but sometimes it makes sense. Next week we venture further East to Iraq. Please find musicians from Iraq on the Last FM page.
As for the suggestions to take part:
- Join in! No matter where, when and with what. No matter if you have cancer or not! You missed the first week? Don’t worry. Just jump in when it suits you.
- Send us the link! The ping-back option does not always work so please leave a link in the comments of the post on the day you take part. Or leave it at the “Come Away With Me 2021 FB page“
- Tag your post either with ” Come Away With Me Musical Challenge”/ #CoAwWiMeMuCh” / “Come Away with Me 2021 Musical Challenge” o/“CoAwWiMe2021MuCh” / . You can also use these as hashtags for Twitter and other Social Networks to give your post more exposure. If you add #blog and #music with your hashtags it will get you more readers.
- No matter which music or country the prompt favours you create with it whatever you please. This is supposed to be a fun challenge and no chore.
- I post a prompt for the next week with every “Come Away With Me 2021 post” I write.
- If you like, use this picture for your readers to find the posts.
Prompt List for Love Is In Da Blog 2021 “Great Love Stories”
As promised here are the prompts for “Love Is In Da Blog 2021” in February with the topic “Great Love Stories” so you can prepare if you want to take part:
- Choose your own
- Romeo & Juliet ~ Find a love song and/or write a Madrigal about them.
- Casablanca ~ Find an unusual version of “As Time Goes By” and/or write an Acrostic with this song title
- Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal (Taj Mahal) ~ Find a Bollywood song and/or write an Epitaph for lovers
- Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo ~ Find a Jazz love-song and/or write a Contrapuntal poem about Rivera & Kahlo
- Paris & Helen ~ Find a love song of war and/or write an ode to Helen & Paris
- Bonnie & Clyde ~ Find a Blues love song and/or write a Nonet about doomed love
- Choose your own
- The Butterfly Lovers ~ Find a pop love song with a butterfly in it and/or write a Gu Ti poem (second form in the article)
- Johnny Cash & June Carter ~ Find a country love song and/or write a Senryu about love
- Tristan & Iseult ~ Find a love folk song and/or write an Ae Freislighe about love
- Dr Zhivago & Lara ~ Find a “revolutionary” love song and/or write an Onegin Stanza about Zhivago and Lara
- Orpheus & Eurydice ~ Find a singer/songwriter song about love and/or write an Ovillejo poem about love
- Niulang and Zhinu (Cowherd and Weaver Girl) ~ Find a Valentine’s song and/or write a Sijo poem about love.
- Choose your own
- Pretty Woman ~ Find a great opera love song and/or write a Bop poem about Edwards & Vivienne’s love
- Cleopatra & Mark Antony ~ Find a 50’s love song and/or write a Descord Poem about love
- Elizabeth Bennett & Mr. Darcy ~ Find a love themed piece of music from the romantic era and/or write a romantic poem.
- Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas ~ Find a chanson about love and/or write a Lai poem about Gertrude & Alice
- Sisi & Franz ~ Find an acapella Love song and/or write a Sestina poem about Sisi & Franz
- Lancelot & Guinevere ~ Find a love rock song and/or write a Hir a Thoddaid poem about love
- Choose your own
- Aragorn and Arwen ~ Find a classical love piece and/or write a poem in your own invented language (With translation please )
- Jackie Kennedy & Aristotle Onassis ~ Find a love song from 1968 and/or write a free verse poem about love
- Hadrian & Antinous ~ Find a metal ballad about love and/or write a Rispetto poem about their love
- Katniss & Peeta ~ Find a love song from the “Hunger Games” films and/or write a Tricubes poem about love
- Dante & Beatrice ~ Find an Italian love song and/or write a Palindrome poem about love
- Clara & Esteban (House of Spirits) ~ Find an exotic love song and/or write a Katauta poem
Just one more thing before you go: The hospital that is treating me is fundraising for a dedicated breast cancer unit which would allow some same-day diagnosis and better premises for patients and staff.
Please, if you can spare a little money hop over to their Just Giving Page and give as little or much as you can. Or share the page on your social media. So far the campaign has raised about half the amount needed: £422,006 of £800,000 (January 2021).
Your support means a lot to me! Thank you very much.
Thanks, my dears, for staying with me until the end.
I appreciate your presence.
Please stay safe, stay kind and remember that you rock!