Friday, September 11, 2009

annnnnd class is dismissed...

here are my final lessons picked up along the road. well, these are the ones i can remember right now.

1. fear makes people do unspeakable things. fear of those who are different, fear for their livelihood, fear for their families- it doesn't matter what it is they're trying to protect, or from whom. I'm thinking of the Holocaust museum right now. but the concept can be shrunk down to the individual scale too; people who are afraid to visit the Middle East because they'll get blown-up or shot in the street or kidnapped. Because everyone here hates the western world. And while not visiting the Middle East for these reasons may not qualify as "unspeakable", it still means condemning a whole culture based on what are often case-specific, warped and over-exposed stories. Isn't that just as bad as if everyone here hated the west? Doesn't that make you the same as the people you are afraid of? Remember when you boil down all the conflicts and the histroies, we all crawled out of the same soup here in the Middle East, wayyyy back when.

2. Remember how in Muslim countries, pharmacies are marked by a green crescent moon, and in Christian countries, by a green cross? Well, here in Israel, pharmacies are marked by a green Star of David. Interesting eh?

3. It would be hard to come here and not mention the Israel/Palestine situation. Because it really is all over the place. In the old city of Jerusalem, there are shops selling little stuffed-toy camels that have "Palestinian Army" stitched on them, right next to shops with t-shirts with fighter planes on them that say "Israeli Military" on them. Now, as I'm sure you have noticed, I am not necessarily painting a detailed, fully-informed picture of the world, I am only telling you what I have seen, and how I've seen it. So this is the way I see this- it is, at its heart, a fight for home. Religion comes to the field later. In our taxi from Amman to the Jordanian border was a man. A Palestinian man. He hadn't been able to get home in 28 years, and not for lack of trying. He was trying again when we went. We lost him at the border, but found him again, on the Israeli-controlled side..as he was being escorte back to the bus to Jordan. Another failed attempt to get home. I am lucky in that I can't even imagine how infuriating that must be. I have never had to deal with being denied access home. However, as with all stories-and coins for that matter- this one has another side to it. And that is the side of the Israelis, to whom this is home as well. I don't have an answer to the problem, I do know that it is too late to abandon and erase Israel. But after that, I don't know how you split things up. Hopefully, one day, like the Palestinian camels and the Israeli t-shirts, these two groups can live peacefully as neighbours.

4. although Jordan observes Ramadan, they do not retard their clocks, as Egypt does. They also don't tell you this at the border. we got to Jordan and had NO idea what time it was for two days. We couldn't decide whether we needed to leap ahead an hour or stay where we were in time. its very confusing! eventually, we found enough clocks to corroborate our suspicions and advanced in time by an hour.

5. Jordan's currency is very confusing. The main unit is the dinar. 1 dinar is made up of 100 piasters. Good so far? 1 piastre is made up of 10 fils. So there are 1000 fils OR 100 piastres to every dinar. And prices don't have units on them. Good luck.

Alright friends, I'm almost out of time online.
It's been a real pleasure, I thank you all again most heartily for reading, and wish you all a lovely day. Or night. Or whatever.

with affection.
B

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