As a university student in the early 2000s, I lived off and on in the informal settlements that surround Damascus. At that time, I did not notice where the capital city ended and its slums began – rather, they formed a continuous urban fabric, where the uglier it was, the more spacious the housing was. Living in the informal settlements suited my meagre income and modest needs for housing and food. My acquaintances at that time also lived in the slums. There, with comrades and friends from various classes and political backgrounds, especially from the left, we discussed destiny, the future and the past. What I believed at the time was a class affiliation that united us, I see today as yet another type of belonging: living there played a hidden role in papering over our differences and contradictions and united us in the face of Baathist Syria’s stifling inequality and discrimination.