Text and images Britt-Arnhild Wigum Lindland
It is called spring cleaning, isn't it? This strong, primitive force that lead you to sharpen every pencil, sort though the drawer with paper napkins, reorganize your thousands of books (do I really have that many!), rewind old yarn skeins, handing Terje and old cloth while pointing to the dirty windows, sorting through stack after stack of papers.......
I am a collector. The stacks of papers are many and huge in The House in the Woods. Concert programs, letters, dentist bills, garden magazines, grocery shopping lists, passport........YES, there it is!, travel brochures, seed packets, newspaper clippings, lovenotes.......or actually one lovenote (from my lover of course - a yellow postcard he found in Copenhagen, with the words You and I = We).
The stacks are always growing. Precious memories can't be thrown away.
In one pile I find a handwritten book, almost a hundred years old. A kind of round robin written by grandmother Olga and her friends. Kind of a newspaper or magazine from a time when printed papers were scarce. A treasure. I struggle to read the oldfashioned letters.
In another pile I find a manuscript for an unpublished book. Almost finished.......
I have words to write, a manuscript to complete.
Travel memory from Syria, last autumn:
"Arise and go into the street called Straight" The Acts 9,11. These were the words said by the Lord to Ananias when he wants Ananias to go out and find the blinded Saul, later to become Paul, or Paulus as we call him here in Norway. The first time I heard about the Street called Straight was in the Bible, but I had no idea this street still excist today. Then, a coupld of months ago, I found Damascus. Taste of a City by Rafik Schami and his sister Marie Fadel. As I told you yesterday, Rafik lives in Germany. His sister is still in Damascus and together, by the help of long phonecalls through a whole year, they wander the areas around the Street Called Straight together, he through his sister's words. Rafik shares their memories and talks in his book.
To visit the Street Called Straight was high up on my list when we finally arrived in Damascus by the end of our week. Saturday morning were spent sightseeing with our Syrian guide, we had lunch at a wonderful place near the Grand Mosque and then the guide took us to the bazaar and gave us 90 minutes to walk alone. Before leaving us in the middle of the bazaar he pointed out to a side street and said, "If you walk up here, the second street will be The Street Called Straight"
A friend and I decided to walk the 90 minutes together. First to buy Damascene table clothes, yes we did buy some great ones, but then we had no spesific plans "Why don't you come with me to The Street Called Satright" I said, "I so much want to see it, and hopefully we can find a coffee shop there where we can sit down"
We found the street easily enough. A busy shopping street, nothing at all how I had imagine The Street called Straight to be though, but........ We found a bench where we sat down and asked a man"Is there a coffee shop here?" There weas not.
Still I felt happy and content, I was in Damascus, I was inThe Street Called Straight. Life was good.
Back in the bazaar we still did not find a coffee shop, but ended up in a completely unromantic kind of place with plastic chairs and ugly tables. There we bought water and coke, and I dreamed of my cup of Arabian coffee. Time went fast, our 90 minutes were coming to an end, the whole week were coming to an end. We still had some Syrian money left and decided to buy scarves, my friend for his wife, I for myself. Back in the textile store where we had bought the table clothes there were hundreds of scarves. I fell in love with a soft one in silk, I wrapped it around my neck and both colour and texture made me feel like I was swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. Unfortunately I did not have enough money for it, instead I ended up with a second best beautiful scarf in pashmir and silk.
our Norwegian guide who travelled with us told me that the street our Syrian guide had pointed out was not The Street Called Straight at all.....
Preben in Denmark sent me a message: You have been to Damascus without telling me.......did you meet Amer? He has a shop on the corner of The Street Called Straight and the Annanias Street. Close to Baab Touma......
I am back in Norway and dream of the ocean silk scarf
I am glad I didn't make it to The Street Called Straight. I am glad I didn't meet Amer. I am glad I didn't buy the silk scarf.
Now I have three important reasons to go back to Syria.
And The Street Called Straight or not. I had a great afternoon.
Photos: not from The Street Called Straight