Damascus Syria, target of state terrorism of the USA Malula
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Syria is a corner of my heart. The reasons are numerous. 

This was the first country I visited - on official assignment, as director of the Hungarian pavilion at the annual general fair of Damascus - outside the "socialist block" as an adult; I met wonderful people there; I had the luck to visit exciting places; my visit was full of (mostly) pleasant surprises; I could see the horrors of Palestinian refugee camps; I got some impression on how different we - nations, cultures, colours, beliefs, thinking - are and still how little these differences are. I am afraid I shall not be able to describe my experiments, my feelings. Pity.

I arrived to Damascus just after noon. I was told that the driver of the Hungarian pavilion, a certain Hussein was going to meet me at the airport and take me to the flat of the chap, whom I have to relieve. Hussein was there, jumped to me as soon as I left the customs. He was a little bit frightening, quite big, dark, one eye defective. My goodness, I thought. But he met me with friendly smile and with shockingly fluent Hungarian: "Husszein vagyok, minden rendben?" (I am Hussein, is everything OK?). He drove me to the city beside refugee camps, tents, crowd, dirt, poverty. Shocking, it was really shocking, the camps occupied almost the whole distance from the airport to the city. I was surprised at the flat too: my predecessor was quietly sleeping. He just extended his hand for a shake and told me to follow his suit and have a sleep. It is too hot to do anything - he said. No, I replied, if we do not have program for the afternoon, I shall have a walk, as usual when I arrive to any foreign place. OK, he said, but do not fall asleep, walking. It was 38 deg C, so my walk was short, he was absolutely right: I almost fell asleep walking, it was difficult to resist. The short walk was enough to have a pleasant surprise: I saw a group of small children (around 8-9 years old), disciplined, nice, in uniforms (I hate uniforms of any kind, but these little ones looked nice in the orderly dresses), crossing a street. OK, I said to myself, you are at a good place.

The routine started next day: visits, guests, delegations, Hungarians exhibiting and permanently complaining, payments to be effected, etc. Boring, I did not like it from the very first moment. One of the first occasions was my introductory visit to the general manager of the fair. I got dressed in my only light, beige suit. When I wanted to get into my car, my trousers ripped in two at the sewing. Hussein, we have to purchase new trousers - I told the driver. No, sir, too long, keep quiet. He started driving like hell, drove to the "old city" with very-very narrow lanes, not more than 2,5 meters. Stopped at the narrowest possible place. Follow me - I was instructed. Small door, spiral stairs of 70 cms, miniature tailor's workshop. Off the trousers! - was the next order. Five minutes and I got my trousers back, I was not late for the meeting.                                      

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