Monday, October 16, 2006

No alley too narrow

The city plan of old Damascus was drawn centuries -- millennia, really -- before the advent of the automobile. Streets are generally wide enough for pedestrians and donkey carts.

The many scrapes on the sides of the stone houses that line the twisting, narrow lanes suggest that cars don’t fit. That hasn’t stopped Syrians from attempting to navigate their cars, trucks and taxis through the old city streets, often forcing those of us on foot to press against the walls in order for them to pass.

The labyrinth of streets -- some truly too narrow for vehicles -- has a complicated, unmarked system of one-way directions, which sometimes converge, setting off a frenzied dialogue of honking and gesturing out of car windows in order to determine who must back-up and yield.


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