“What’s that word again?” Lukman asks as the night draws to a close and the Arak finally makes its appearance, “Nightcap” I tell him. He laughs and pours the final drink of the evening. “Nightcap… I love that word.”
I have been having regular nightcaps with Karen the American woman I’m staying with in Damascus, we sit on her terrace and have a last local aniseed drink in the dusty early hours.
Karen talks easily of a life of travel, her conversation flows seamlessly between subject topic and tale, she pauses only for a puff on her fag and a slug of her Arak. She reminds me of Gina Rowlands the fantastic actress in John Cassavetes films. Sometimes I find it hard to keep up with her comical rants but she does keep me thoroughly entertained.
Her conversation moves from sadness to anger as she recounts tortured tales with ‘The fucking donkey’; a relationship with a local Syrian guy who took her 25k savings. “The bastard stole my money.” “Even his own family has disowned him” she rants… lighting another fag.
It is 3am and the street below is busy, filled with a noisy mix of car horns and people shouting, the dusty warm air helps keep me focused but my eyes start to open and close as the warming Arak takes hold.
Soon my glass is empty and it is time for bed.
Karen continues talking unaware that my eyes are closed. Tonight with the Arak and without her glasses on everything has become a blur.