Friday, March 02, 2007

Save your biggest coals ...

There's a saying Syrians take to heart: Kheli fahamtek akbar laamek ithar. Save your biggest coals for your uncle, March. Another version warns of saving the largest logs.

The sun is warmer these days, and the nights not as cold, but that can be deceiving, they say. Winter's not over yet. Nowadays, it's diesel, not coal or firewood. Better catch the diesel man when he comes honking.

You can always tell when he's in your neighborhood from the sound of his horn. Most wandering venders, their wares – fava beans, steamed corn, banana crepes, goldfish, strawberries and apples – borne aloft push-carts or bicycle baskets, advertise their goods by shouting. The diesel man is silent. He is accompanied by the clip-clop of his horse and his helper, who marches 20 paces ahead, honking his horn at his side.