Welcome to Damascus, a city that has been classified as being the most dangerous capital of the world. It seems that its residents, however, have become the most adapted and adjusted to the atmosphere of war.
This is the fourth consecutive Eid al-Adha [traditional feast following the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca] now, since the steel and fire machinery of war started to consume the country, spewing death and destruction. Yet many Syrians opted to go out and enjoy whatever meager festivities existed rather than stay in and face the safe, but dull, daily familiarity of despondency and dejection.
Abu Waheed, shop owner in al-Hamidia market in central Damascus says he is trying very hard to evoke joy for himself and his children. He is weary of the atmosphere of solicitude hanging over his family for long months now; they have no other solution but faking smiles and pretending to be happy.
When comparing the holiday atmosphere between this year and the last year, Abu Waheed notices a slight relative improvement to the security situation. The effects of rising prices has, on the other hand, hit his family hard.
Abdul Qadir, fabrics shop owner in Al-Harikah market, is not different. He recounts to Rozana how he declined, this feast, to purchase new clothes for his wife, or any additional gifts for the Eid al-Adha, as he is customarily used to. He attributes this to the explosion of expenses which he cannot bear.
Abdul Qadir is also noting sadness in the eyes of his customers, and one can actually almost touch a note of dejection and despondency in his voice. George also notes this, as everyone is affected by the news, events, blood, and explosions.
George adds that the suffering of the Syrians was "compounded this feast after the decision to raise fuel prices, which negatively affects all service aspects of life".
Abu Jafar paints a better picture of the situation in Damascus, and finds that the conditions have improved dramatically this holiday. The only constant between this and the previous year being the relatively high prices. The high price of diesel reflected onto retail and wholesale prices.
Eid al-Adha returned to the country carrying with it the burden of four past years of grief. Yet you can still see a smile on the faces of passers-by, some of whom may wave their hand at you and wish you a happy Eid, filling you with hope for the next day.