Friday, November 19, 2010


"Think they'll let us take that into Jordan?"

"Why wouldn't they?"

"It's alcohol."

"They have alcohol in Jordan."

We watched silently as the duty free attendant wrapped the bottle in foam netting and slid it deftly into a bag. As she held out the bag by the handle, an imprinted ad for pork sausages was clearly visible on its side. Full color, of course.

"We can always claim diplomatic immunity."

"Yeah, I'll just let you carry that."

Friday, November 12, 2010

كان زمان

"Hey, where've you been?" This in Arabic from behind the counter to my left. I glance up from my notebook to see Rami, my favorite coffeeshop guy.

"Wow, how are you? How are things?" It's been months since I've seen Rami. He never finished his final high school exam ("why bother? I had no money for college."), but instead started working for Starbucks, eventually moving over to a competing chain's store close to the Embassy. He has the singular skill of speaking in Arabic that I can almost completely understand.

"Good, but I never see you. You busy?"

"Busy with the elections. I wrote updates on them."

"For a newspaper?"

"No, for my government." This is a little more blunt than I'd care to be, but that's what happens when your language skill level is somewhere between 'bludgeoning the listener with an anvil' and 'bludgeoning the listener with a sledgehammer'. Rami doesn't seem to mind. I explain to him that I'm moving to Pakistan and then Jerusalem.

"That's great that you can move around and experience a lot of different cultures." His dream, he once told me, is to open his own coffee shop and thus bring the different cultures to him.

"Sure," I accepted the americano he set in front of me. "That's what I'm doing here with you."