In rubble of Aleppo souk, tablecloth shop makes solitary comeback

Delicately embroidered shawls and bright tarps are on display in Shawash's partly restored storefront, the only colours visible in a sea of smashed concrete and debris-laden roads. (AFP)
Updated 25 December 2017
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In rubble of Aleppo souk, tablecloth shop makes solitary comeback

ALEPPO: It used to be one of the most vibrant marketplaces in the Syrian city of Aleppo, but today, the bombed-out streets of Khan Al-Harir are home to a solitary shop selling tablecloths.
Mohammad Shawash’s partly restored storefront stands amid a sea of smashed concrete and debris-laden roads.
The 62-year-old with a snow-white beard and glasses decided to return to the historic souk five months ago to reopen the shop he had managed for years.
“I cried when I first came back. I found total destruction all around me. The stores were destroyed, the streets covered in rubble and rocks, and the buildings collapsed,” he told AFP.
“So I repaired it myself, to prove to the whole world that Aleppo’s Old City still has a soul.”
Khan Al-Harir, or the Silk Market, lies in the celebrated Old City of central Aleppo, a UNESCO world heritage site.
Its historic covered market was the largest in the world, with some 4,000 shops and 40 caravanserais in a labyrinth of alleyways selling everything from home ware to artisanal products.
For four years, the Old City was on the front line of battles between government troops in the city’s west and rebels in the east.
But a blistering, Russian-backed offensive saw Syria’s army retake swathes of the country, and in December 2016 the government declared it was once more in control of the whole of Aleppo.

Shopkeepers return

Much of the Old City remains scarred by fighting, but part of the Souk Al-Jumruk marketplace reopened last month. Other shopkeepers have slowly begun returning to assess the damage.
Shawash, a native of Khan Al-Harir, was one of them.
“I was raised here and I used to open my shop from 7:00am until late at night. I knew everyone around me,” he said.
“The streets were full of passers-by, stalls, restaurants and people selling clothes, carpets and furniture. But now there is no one.”
When he returned earlier this year to check on his shop, he found a wall had collapsed, the goods were either gone or burned, and the streets were eerily empty.
“It’s not just about losing money or stock. I lost my neighbors, I lost my people, I lost myself.”
For a week, Shawash piled bricks, cement, and stone in a small wheelbarrow and navigated it through the ravaged streets to repair his shop by hand.
“I would arrive completely exhausted, because the streets are narrow and there was rubble everywhere, which meant cars couldn’t get through,” he said.
He has since resumed his daily ritual, laying out multicolored plastic tablecloths and mats for display, many of them still wrapped in protective plastic.
Shawash then sits down on a plastic chair and waits for customers, his prayer beads in hand. For hours no one stops, so he packs up his goods, locks the metal door, and heads home.
With a dearth of customers, he said he was barely making enough “to buy a falafel sandwich.”
“Before the war, I used to sell between 50,000 and 70,000 pounds ($1,000 and $1,500, depending on the exchange rate) worth of goods,” he said.
Shawash insisted Aleppo’s young people must return to rebuild their city.
“Aleppo is the symbol of civilization,” he said. “I’m proud to be the first one to reopen my shop in this souk, but I hope that life returns to the market.”


Bride chooses Elie Saab as ‘Game of Thrones’ stars wed

Updated 24 June 2018
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Bride chooses Elie Saab as ‘Game of Thrones’ stars wed

DUBAI: Former “Game of Thrones” co-stars Kit Harington and Rose Leslie married Saturday with a church service and a celebration at the bride’s ancestral castle in Scotland.
Leslie looked ethereal in an ivory lace and tulle gown by Elie Saab, with a white floral headpiece worn under a whimsical veil.
The couple and guests arrived for the afternoon service at Rayne Church, close to the 900-year-old Wardhill Castle in northeast Scotland, which is owned by Leslie’s family. Harington, wearing a morning suit, and Leslie smiled at members of the public who had gathered outside the church.
Guests included the pair’s “Game of Thrones” co-stars Peter Dinklage, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner and Emilia Clarke, AP reported.
Leslie was walked into the church by her father Sebastian Leslie, an Aberdeenshire councilor and the chief of the ancient Leslie Clan, who wore a traditional Scottish kilt.
Later, the newlyweds were showered with rose petal confetti as they left the church and drove off in a Land Rover festooned with “Just Married” signs to a reception on the castle grounds.

#roseleslie #wedding #kitharington #couple

A post shared by Rose Leslie (@roseleslie_got) on

Harington and Leslie, who are both 31, met in 2012 on the set of the HBO fantasy series, where they played a couple as the characters Jon Snow and Ygritte. Leslie left the cast in 2014 and currently stars in US legal drama “The Good Fight.”
Harington credits Iceland as the backdrop to the beginning of their love story.
“Because the country is beautiful, because the Northern Lights are magical and because it was there that I fell in love,” he told L’Uomo Vogue last year. “If you’re already attracted to someone and then they play your love interest in the show, it’s becomes very easy to fall in love.”
In an interview with The Telegraph in June 2016, Leslie opened up about the relationship.
“He’s not a confrontational person so we don’t ever blow off steam,” she shared. “(He’s) a great man. I’m very proud of him. There’s an understanding that comes with the job, an understanding of being busy and when you have to say, ‘Sorry, I’m just going to bugger off for two months to film.’”
The couple announced their engagement with a notice in the Times of London newspaper in September.
“The engagement is announced between Kit, younger son of David and Deborah Harrington of Worcestershire, and Rose, middle daughter of Sebastian and Candy Leslie of Aberdeenshire,” the announcement read.
“We are absolutely thrilled for Kit and Rose to be marrying today,” Leslie’s father told assembled reporters before the ceremony. “It’s an absolutely lovely day for us.”