Wednesday, April 2, 2014

He is not in need of (Syrian) laborers

"He is not in need of laborers - and thank you".
It is a simple, handwritten, Arabically-incorrect sign posted on the wall of a chantier of a swanky high rise being built in Achrafieh. But it is a major telling sign as well. Perhaps I would not have paid it attention to it had I not been accosted a few minutes earlier by two Syrian men asking for the address of a fancy restaurant. They were dressed in warm winter clothes which are not exactly work clothes but neither upscale garments, both were sporting a three-day beard, blackened and badly maintained teeth (the cigarette in hand gave a clue for the blackening) and shoes with the end popped in to accommodate feet a size larger than the shoe itself; in short they were obviously not the clientele of the restaurant they were asking for.
Naturally I pointed them out to the direction, how far it was and how long it would take to get there. While my mind was racing to interpret the meaning of it, it all clarified as one of the two men caught me right as I was turning my back to go my way and said "this is the restaurant at the opposite of which there's a building is being erected?"
Naturally, they were skilled or perhaps unskilled laborers looking for work. Syrian migrants trying to make ends meet after fleeing here, with families in tow, staying at some other migrants who came before them in ramshackle accommodations.
Of course, one does not make sure connections, but then I remembered a few days earlier, another Syrian man asked for directions to a place next to which - you guessed it - there was a deep excavation for a new project underway.... 

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