Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Garbage collection

In a practice that must date to the construction of the city walls, Damascus residents are fond of throwing their leftovers, banana peels and any especially stinky trash, over the edge. The cats consume it below.

Abu Mousa taught me how; it ran against my American, anti-littering instincts, but now I do it, too. There's a little strip of unused ground – very little space in Damascus is unused – which runs between the old city wall and a fence, sidewalk and road. Cats roam down there and they feast off of whatever the humans don't want and discard below.

One day, I caught a cat, which had snuck through the open door, crouched on the kitchen table, gnawing through a raw fish that Juliet had bought to cook for lunch. I brought this to her attention; she shooed the cat away and then asked me to throw what was left of the fish over the wall. Too stinky to put in the trash can.
I dutifully tossed the half-eaten fish over the wall. I wondered if the cat was smart enough to know where he could find the rest of his lunch.

(We toss the refuse from the terrace, between my room, the triple windows on the right, and the kitchen, on the left.)