Page:A short guide to Syria (1943).djvu/15

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
There was a problem when proofreading this page.


community. So treat the local leaders with respect at all times and entertain them whenever possible. Another helpful person is the village watchman, the "natour" (naa-toor). The watchmen are usually well informed on the local geography and gossip. They are often the first to know of unusual happenings and can thus be very useful to you. But remember that it is the watchman's business to be suspicious of strangers. Therefore you must win his trust before he is willing to help you. A suspicious watchman will often give you false information purposely. This also holds true of the local leaders if they mistrust you. At all times it is to your advantage to make friends! Here are a few things to remember in winning the friendship of the villagers:

Respect village property. Keep to paths and roadways. Do not enter cultivated fields or take fruits and vegetables from orchards and gardens. Villagers depend on these crops for their living. Their margin of reserve is very slim. Do not gather fuel without permission. It also is limited. Each and every tree has its owner and wood-lots are sometimes the property of the village. Sometimes the groves are considered holy and no person may touch the wood. It is even considered improper to sit under the shade of a tree. The Syrians themselves mostly use dried animal dung for fuel. Learn to use this.


How To Get Along in the Desert. If you are in the desert, remember that every bit of land is the property of some specific group of tribesmen. The leader of your unit should discover to what tribe or group the land belongs


and seek out and pay a call on the sheikh or headman. Always try to obtain permission before taking water from desert wells. The Syrians have complicated water rights. Never be wasteful of water. It is their most valuable possession. It is likely to be yours, too.