Mystery truck


A scene from a particularly amusing episode of the Syrian Ramadan TV series “Spotlight.”

Every day, a few times a day, we’ve been hearing a truck drive around the neighborhood playing music over a loudspeaker attached to the vehicle. The music is of the tinny, pseudo-Yanni type that gets stuck in your head when you don’t want it to but that you can’t quite recall when you set your mind to it.

At first, Jeremy and I thought it might be an ice cream truck, American style. The problem is, it’s always driving around in the middle of the day when all the kids are at school, and it’s not even that hot, anyway.

Then I wondered if it was a recycling collection truck, like they have in Japan. The one in the neighborhood in Kyoto where I lived had a special little jingle it played early every Saturday morning, cheerily reminding everyone to put out their plastic bottles and newspapers for collection. Of course, then I remembered that curbside recycling doesn’t exist here (as it doesn’t in many communities in America, I should add).

But we finally figured it out: the realization came as I was nursing Miriam and letting my mind wander as usual, since Her Royal Highness won’t allow me to read, watch TV, or make any kind of movement or sound during her feeding sessions. My thoughts fell upon the Syrian Ramadan TV series called “Spotlight,” and in particular, the episode where the gaz truck keeps coming between a husband and wife as they try to revitalize their relationship (every time they reached a critical point in their conversation, their voices would be drowned out by the gaz truck coming by. Finally, the gaz truck guys learn to play classical music on the violin to announce their presence).

In Damascus, they have these tiny
Suzuki trucks that putt noisily around the city, selling fuel for your stove or hot water heating system. There’s always one dude driving, and one dude sitting in the bed of the truck amongst the highly explosive, pressurized containers of gas or diesel fuel. The second guy’s job is to make everyone within earshot aware of the gaz truck’s presence. How does he do this? By banging loudly on the cans of fuel. All the vendors use the same catchy rhythm when they do this, and accompany it by shouting, in abnormally loud voices, GAAAAAAAAAAZ! or MAZZOOOOT!. In theory, you’re sitting in your living room going about your daily life, hear these guys come by, remember that you ran out of gaz last night, and then, I don’t know, run out and buy some…? (Shockingly, these guys were never around when we ran out of stove or hot water fuel. For our convenience, they always showed up when we were about to take a nap.)

Anyway, the truck that’s been driving around the neighborhood is Jordan’s version of the gaz truck. Tinny, Yanni-wannabe music and all, this is a big, big step up from dudes yelling themselves hoarse outside my window.
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