Akram from Damascus:
"If the label of most of the Syrian cities and towns is death and mass destruction, in Damascus it is the chaos. The city is not anymore an urban continuum, but rather a group of separated districts where the main streets that are supposed to play the arteries role for the movement between the different parts of the town are hit by multiple major clots caused by the checkpoints, that became familiar to the Damascenes, or completely closed by barricades that block access completely to the major squares and the sensitive security and governmental facilities. This situation make movement within the city extremely difficult not only because the traffic in the few streets that remain open is jammed all over the time but also one can’t plan his trip in advance, nor can he expect his arrival time because, in most cases he would find himself obliged to change his track and take side roads to find himself in late or, in some cases he would find his way surprisingly accessible in a way he reaches his target too early. In these conditions, cars became a real burden for their owners and taxis take the opportunity to impose unfair conditions on the passengers: few are the cabs that operate their counters, a violation that, in normal conditions, costs a great fine (or a bribe), and many of drivers refuse to head to the city center or the hot areas or impose a great reward. Moreover, the residents are, practically, prisoners in their city: leaving to the neighboring suburbs, let alone the more distant towns, is more a suicide mission than a simple trip: very few are those who dare to do so, fearing of getting stuck amid daily clashes, or particularly, in the case of Alawites, slaughtered by FSA (or, if some people prefer, by gangs borrowing the FSA label) or for the more fortunate, kidnapped for ransom.
To this impossible situation, is added the escalating wave of explosions that strike the city on daily basis. These explosions became a real obsession to the average Damascene: in the beginning, it was enough to avoid the major security centers, that many of them were, already, hit by car bombs. But after the Syrian authorities have taken preventive measures that made targeting them exceptionally difficult, the ambitions of the terrorists became lower (police stations as in the case of the recent Bab Touma explosion, isolated checkpoints on the outskirts of the city, or even cars owned by junior officials or people considered pro-regime) and their explosives smaller, though not less effective in spreading terror or in taking lives especially when implanted in crowded areas. But the Syrian security apparatus, equipped with decades of expertise in individual and institutional corruption and in oppressing the Syrian society, seem unfamiliar in dealing with terrorism: Contrary to many metropolitans in the west or even in many Arab cities, surveillance cameras are very rare in Damascus. And while explosive detecting devices or dogs don’t exist, security men seem to be working in the dark and depend on their own guess and experience (or on warnings issued by their superiors) that have proven, so far, to be ineffective.
In Damascus, who is planning to marry to whom, who is at odd with who and other family chats aren’t of the Damascene’s priorities anymore, nor the ridiculous polemics of the Lebanese politicians. The talk show presenter Marcel Ghanem and his weekly circus of Thursday night stopped to be on their agenda. Even the daily gossips about an expected departure of this Syrian minister or that, or a long waited wage increase that "is coming soon", or the hilarious corruption stories of the philanthropist Rami Makhlouf &co. retreated to the back range. The death occupies the entire scene, and from time to time, impose themselves the statements of the Lakhdar Ibrahimi and his desperate attempts to make the canons silenced even for few days."