I've only been away for twelve weeks. Three months. But things seem more different than when I'd been away for years.
My nomadic existence has brought me back to Damascus after a short exile in London. But this isn't the Damascus I knew a few weeks ago. Things are changing at the blink of an eyelid.
My memories are dominated by images. I picture streets, and people, and buses. But something has changed here, and it isn't a sight – it's a sound.
Saroujah has a new sound. The muathin who read the call to prayer from the Masjid Al-Ward was probably my favourite in the world. His old trembling voice and colourful tones lit up the area. But in my short time away, he has left. In his place is a characterless monotone sound.
Saroujah sounds different.
And then there's the pavement. Parts of Saroujah are being repaved – though thankfully, much quickly and less damaging than the work in Straight Street. The cobbles are finally being replaced.
The smell has changed too. Most of the tourist cafes on the corner of Souq Saroujah and Bahsa have closed.
It's all a bit disjointing.