Aleppo Wedding, Chapter 9

He returned her to her hotel and rushed home to phone a friend with a travel agency who could arrange for him to be invited that evening with the tour group. Thus when the bus decanted the group at the nearest main road near the narrow streets of the old city he was waiting for them with a pleased smile on his face.
Sarah saw him as she descended the steps of the bus, and looked surprised and pleased. She tapped the girl called Jane on the shoulder and Nury saw Jane turn in surprise, and then turn back to Sarah and make some comment which made Sarah laugh. He was a bit irritated but waited politely for them, and spent the two hours of the performance sitting between them and explaining what was happening. They loved the building with its quiet rooms and fountains which really did tinkle, but were mystified by the Dervishes whose self-induced trances were incomprehensible to these cheerful products of western materialism. Nury did his best but the more he tried to explain the less they seemed to see his point and he was glad in the end to see them back onto their bus and to go home himself.
Thursday was their day to see a selection of the ancient sites in the countryside round the city, and Nury had been astonished, when he saw the itinerary, at the amount they expected to do. They left the hotel at eight o'clock in the morning and visited Cyrrhus, a Roman ruined city to the north-west, then swung to the south to Ain Dara, a small but quite imposing Hittite monument on a solitary hill in the valley of what had once been a massive river, now just a meandering stream. The last stop was the ruined but partly restored basilica of Saint Simeon, again to the south. This was a much more popular spot, for its beauty, its accessibility from Aleppo and its new restaurant where Nury joined them for a very late lunch.
Again he was denied any privacy by the presence of twenty eight other members of the group and more particularly by Jane, who seemed to have made it her job to stay with Sarah at all times. However they had enjoyed the trip and been impressed by everything they had seen, so they were much better company than the previous evening and Nury went home considerably more cheerful after persuading Sarah, in two minutes or so when Jane left them alone, that it would be really rude, and embarrassing for him, if she did not have Friday lunch with his family the next day. He knew this would be an argument she could understand, and also that the tour trip to the Citadel of Aleppo would be over by lunch-time, so it would fit in very neatly.

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