Would you go live in Ramallah, in Palestine? My prince and I lived there quite happily for a while and I’d like to offer you the tale of another one of my little adventures.
Ramallah: The view from my windows
Here’s the scene: I’ve visited my family in Holland and am now on my way home to Ramallah. I’m on a KLM flight heading for the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, where my man is waiting for me with the car to drive me back to Ramallah.
In front of me sits a pretty young Israeli mother with an energetic baby. Next to me sits the tot’s grandpa, a jolly sort with sparkles in his eyes. Every now and then, when the mother needs a sanity rest, she hands the baby over to her father who then tries to amuse him for a while. It is not always easy to hoist him over the back rest of the seat and I give a little assistance when necessary to prevent the squirming kid from landing in my lap. Not that that would be so terrible, but it’s not his intended destination.
No, this is not that baby, but he was just as cute.
I play with the little boy a bit, make some friendly small talk with the mother and the grandfather, in English. As we approach Tel Aviv, the mother turns to me with an apologetic smile. “I am sorry he was so much trouble,” she says. Having a plethora (I love this word) of experience with the trials and tribulations of traveling with small children, I assure her I understand her position completely. If the truth were known, I am overwhelmed with sympathy for her, not to speak of gratitude that I’m free to travel by myself these days without a diaper bag, stroller, toys and Prozac. It is so liberating.
She pushes her hair behind her ears and gives an exhausted sigh. “I’m so glad I’m almost home,” she says.
“You live in Tel Aviv?” I ask, and she tells me no, but very close by.
“And where are you going?” she asks, probably taking me for a tourist, or a business person on my way to Jerusalem.
It is the moment of truth (I’ve been there before). I suck in a deep breath and fortify myself with oxygen. “Ramallah,” I say bravely.
Her mouth drops open, her eyes grow big. Next to me her father freezes and the lights dim in his eyes. The woman reaches over the seats and touches my shoulder. “Oh, be careful!” she says with horror in her voice. “Do be careful!” she adds for emphasis, in case I didn’t get it the first time.
“I live in Ramallah,” I tell her. “I’ve lived there for a year now.”
Rendered speechless by my words, she stares at me.
“People are very nice,” I tell her.
This apparently is news to her because a look of total amazement replaces the one of terror. Still not able to vocalize her emotions, she keeps on staring, sort of like you see in cartoon drawings, with her eyes huge and her mouth still open. My Dutch heart aches for her a little, and for all the lovely people in Ramallah.
“They’re really very nice,” I repeat, hoping this will help, eager to be the messenger of good tidings. Really, she seems like such a nice person, such a loving mother. No doubt she intends to raise her little boy to be a good, moral, God-loving person. Just like you and me and the people in Ramallah.
If it weren’t so funny, it’d be sad. Then again, it really is sad.
Note: I now live in France, but this story stays with me, so I thought it might be good to repost it.
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Tell me a tale of some small encounter (or maybe not so small) that stayed with you over the years. Or any tale about living in the Middle East. I’m not picky.