Friday, June 1, 2007

Just like someone else I know...

May 26

Today one of the young female nurses took me under her wing and showed me how to do ECGs and how to insert canuli. Some of her friends came by and kept giggling about me, what exactly they were saying I don't know but they kept saying my name and then asking her where I’m from, why I’m at al-Ahli, etc., then laughing and looking at me. I'd look up at them and smile and they'd look away quickly and giggle more, but the nurse wouldn't, she'd just smile. She reminds me of no one more than Cyra, they look nothing alike but their personalities are very similar. It's interesting to see people dressed so differently and speaking such a different language and then realize how superficial the differences are.

Dr. Harb explained to me that he had an exam in medical school called topography (he went to school in Romania) where they had to orally describe the anatomy of a section of the body. He said you would start with the bony structures that give the region its overall shape and then go on to the muscles, nerves, etc. The only parts of the body that don't have a bony support are the abdomen and the penis. When one of his classmates was called to give her topography exam she was given the penis, and so thought for a minute about the bony structures. Eventually the doctor told her “there's no bony support for the penis. I know it feels like there is, but there isn't.” Harb thought this was absolutely hilarious. Again, not the kind of thing you expect to hear from Islamic fanatics...

Today is Saturday so Musa is off work. When I came home a man was here with his wife, Adil and Maya. He's Palestinian and she's a Canadian Israeli Jew. They're married and have a kid on the way, Nour (light), but they can't live together because of an Israeli law that doesn't recognize Palestinians from the territories who marry Jews as candidates for Israeli citizenship. They're leaving in a year to go to Canada (“inshalla”, or "God willing", as Adil says). Maya used to work for B'tselem so this must piss her off. They met when he worked at a restaurant in Jerusalem and she was working for B’tselem. She understands a bit of Arabic but he speaks Hebrew fluently. Their kids will be trilingual from the start and ridiculously good looking.

Maya lived in Toronto for eight years and speaks perfect Canadian English (including the annoying way they say “know”). She studied archaeology and world religions at U of T; she said she hated it. She was particularly incensed that in her linguistics classes there were zero mentions of Chomskian linguistics. I felt like it was a test of my credentials, or maybe my level of knowledge, to see how I’d respond. I've had the same experience with multiple Israeli peaceniks. I always think it's amusing since the first serious piece of work I ever read on the Middle East was Chomsky's Fateful Triangle, first published in 1983 and still well worth reading today.

Later on we were sitting around watching al-Jazeera (they keep showing a short clip of the NBA finals but I can't tell what's going on...did the Pistons win or lose?). Suhail was bored and so took his dad’s lighter and started setting small pieces of cardboard on fire in the middle of the living room. I braced myself for the worst kind of motherly reaction: it’s the kind of thing American parents would fly off the handle about. Musa and Afaf were sitting next to each other and it didn’t phase them in the slightest. American kids would know, too, that their parents would be pissed about lighting things on fire, especially in the living room, so they would hide it from their parents. But Suhail goes “baba shouf! Shouf!!” (“dad look!” *no response* “Look!!”). “Shway shway” (“be careful”) said Musa, unconcerned. Suhail once again proved how cute he is. He reminds me exactly of how I thought Zubin Shetty would act when he turned 11 years old.