My memories of Bab Tuma, a predominately Christian quarter in old Damascus, go back to my first Christmas in Syria. Like locals, I was rugged up for the winter cold. There were street lights and decorations, and a towering Christmas tree! Father Christmas’s were handing out sweets and one was stopped on a corner, playing the saxophone.
If you search on the Internet for a video of ‘Christmas in Syria’, you’ll invariably find, among the list of videos, ones featuring Bab Tuma (also spelt ‘Touma’).
In 2003, my excitement probably matched that of tourists in 5th Avenue’s Rockefeller Centre at Christmas, except I was experiencing Christmas in the Middle East!
Bab Tuma is a shopping precinct that attracts locals from across the city, and the friend I was with that Christmas evening seized the opportunity to buy a pair of pointed high-heel shoes, popular in Syria at the time.
Nearly sixteen years after seeing Father Christmas play the saxophone in Bab Tuma, I was back in this old quarter of Damascus to visit a private child care centre, ‘Be a Bee’.
I learnt that ‘Be a Bee’ catered for working parents as well as those simply wanting to do a couple of hours shopping in Bab Tuma.
After the children had stopped singing ‘Baby Shark’, I quickly grabbed their teacher for a very short interview.
‘Baby Shark’ was new to me, but apparently it’s extremely popular. The video below by Bounce Patrol, a children’s entertainment group from Melbourne, has had more than 1,648,577,908 views since May 2018. Wow!
Bounce Patrol sing ‘Baby Shark’