Friday, August 30, 2013

How to Explore in an Arab neighborhood

Today I had no reason to stay home--- no shipment delivery, no electricians nor handyman to wait for to fix something, no landlord to talk to about issues with the apartment, nothing! So I decided before our shipment arrives and I'm tied to the house unpacking boxes, I would go exploring.  And why not explore in one of the Arab neighborhoods, such as Beit Safafa.

So, with my 6 necessary items (wallet, phone, keys, sunglasses, water bottle, and map) I head off in the direction of Beit Safafa. It takes about 45 min to walk there and along the way I discover several playgrounds, a bike path, and the tennis center.  I keep walking and finally I am in Beit Safafa! Yay! So where should I go? Where can I go and practice my Arabic?  Where to Arab women hang out?  Ahhhh....the hair salon/beauty parlor!!! Yes! That's the place I want to be.

So I keep walking and I find 2 older ladies waiting for the bus. I approach them and we start chatting in Arabic. Of course, they want to know where I'm from, why do I speak Arabic like this, etc, etc. (By the way, they are waiting for the bus to go to the Old City to pray at Al Aqsa Mosque.) After the adequate amount of pleasantries, I ask them where I can find a ladies hair salon. These 2 ladies decide I need to go to Aida's Hair Salon at the top of the hill in Beit Safafa. Could I walk to it? Yes, they say, but don't. Just about this time, Um Munir stops a car that is driving by us. She tells the lady driver that I need to go to Aida's so could she please drive me up the hill. And the next thing I know, I'm sitting in the backseat of a total stranger's car being driven up the hill to Aida's Hair Salon. The driver and I start chatting in Arabic---  how to do you know Um Munir, where are you from etc, etc. And then she switches to English and says, "Maybe you know my father. He has written a well-known Arabic-English dictionary. His name is Omar Othman."  Wow....just the week before while dining with some friends, we were discussing a particular word in Arabic and we grabbed Omar Othman's Arabic-English Dictionary to look it up. And now here I was riding in the car with his daughter!??!! What a crazy small world!   Oh and look--- we've arrived at Aida's. Ok, yalla bye, thank you for the ride!

And that is how you go exploring in an Arab neighborhood.

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