Sunday, December 04, 2005


It was the first time, and it may have been the last: a Palestinian asked me for directions. The other day, as I was walking home in the dark and a van pulled up beside me. The driver rolled down the window and started as most conversations start here: “As-salam alaykum,” reaching his hand through the open window to shake mine. He was either desperately lost, or actually thought I was a Palestinian. In either case, he continued. I caught enough to realize he was asking for directions, but wasn’t sure where he wanted to go. I answered that I was a foreigner – “Ana ajnabee” – but that I would try to help. I pointed to the next thoroughfare and explained that it led to Beitouniya, a neighboring village to the west. That seemed to make them happy, and they thanked me and bid me farewell. I was stunned, but pleased. It was perhaps some small benchmark of my knowledge of Arabic, and of Ramallah.


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