I Wonder What Became of the Lads

May 1, 2006
The first day of our trip to Damascus in Nov 2009 was some holiday in the region. I believe it was Eid Al Adha, which is the main Islamic Holiday and is equivalent to Xmas for Muslims.

We ventured out of the hotel to wander about, there were a lot of kids of all ages dressed up. Many of the had their presents which invariably tended to be toy guns for the boys. I didn't actually take any pictures of these as I am not too keen guns of any type.

We came across this friendly group who didn't carry guns. They said hello and viewed us with some interest as Damascus wasn't exactly overrun by tourists. I asked them to pose and fired off this shot:
Nikon D200 @ ISO 100
Sigma 10-20mm @ 10mm
1/250 @ f/4
DxO Photolab & Color Efex Pro
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

Syria was a weird place to visit. I didn't mention to my missus but I felt we were being watched the whole time and worked on the assumption our hotel room was bugged. You could spot these beady eyed guys loitering about even at the airport and they stood out like a sore thumb.

Paranoid some might think, but I did actually make out a guy following us one night as we walked back to our hotel. This time, I had to tell her we were being followed. Luckily there was another hotel about and we went into the lobby there after which I made sure to let the chap know we had spotted him.

Can't say they were professional if someone like me could detect him at work. I pointed him out and we both saw him peeking at us from behind a wall which is when I shouted at him asking him what his problem was. Most definitely creepy. I guess it's no surprise the people rose up in arms soon thereafter.

I wonder what became of these lads. As by now, even the youngest at the far end would be of fighting age. Surely it couldn't have been their dreams to bear real arms in a brutal civil war.


May 19, 2008
St. Louis, Missouri
Wow; what an experience. I love taking the road less traveled, but being followed is something that would scare me off from traveling to some places. Wonderful photo and narrative; I wonder what happened to them, too...
May 1, 2006
Thanks @JusPlainCrayzee & @Palouse.

Was definitely an interesting trip to say the least.

After being there for a few days slumming it at our budget hotel, I had decided to treat my beloved to dinner at the Four Seasons.

The meal, accompanied with a bottle of a local red vintage, was lovely but as soon as we walked out and crossed the main road to walk back to our digs a couple of blocks away, I noticed Old Beady Eyes skulking in a corner.

I think I may have seen him before and I suppose my antenna was really switched on on that trip. There was something about the place that triggered some unease. I guess it was seeing these guys at the airport as soon as we walked into the terminal. They looked like they were straight out of casting central for the role of a dodgy secret police operative for a B Movie. Can't explain it but they looked different from the normal people.

I would have thought these sorts of operatives are supposed to blend in but these guys might as well have been walking about with flashing neon signs above their heads. Drawing on all the cheap novels I have read, I suggested a few turns as we walked and noticed he was definitely tailing us. He certainly was not very good at his job.

I left Syria wanting to do a series I would have called "Holidays in the Axis of Evil" with follow on trips to Iran and North Korea but I ultimately came to my senses and decided that single foray was going to be my last! It was enjoyable though and I regret we couldn't make it to Palmyra which has since had its priceless treasures blown up by ISIS.
Sep 20, 2009
Wonderful and poignant image with the history of that region in mind.
Really like the processing as well.
Great work and story, Dayo!

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