‘Here, the Jew and the Arab are friends. On Saturday nights the Jews come here, play cards, smoke and drink coffee. The people want peace. Only the government does not.’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘We live here under an undeclared apartheid. It is just like South Africa. For the Jews there is democracy. They have freedom of speech, they can vote for whichever government they like, can go where they like and talk to whom they like. For us it is different. We are here on sufferance. We are called into police stations if we are heard talking about politics. We are never sure we will get justice in court: if we have a plea against a Jew, then probably we will not. We are not allowed to join the army in case we turn sides. Because of this we cannot get any good jobs; for these you need security clearance. Most of us end up washing dishes or working as manual labourers; if you are lucky you can become a garbage collector.’ He laughed and sent a boy off to go and get some more tea. You see this shop? It belonged to my father before 1948, yet now I have to pay rent to the town council for it. If I was a Jew I would be given it, free. The taxes for us are very high. Many of the young – they are very angry. If this was their government they would not mind. But they do not want to pay the tax which will buy the tank which will kill their brother Arabs. It all means we cannot compete with the Jewish shopkeepers. They do not pay rents for their property so they can sell everything cheaper than us. The Israeli government does nothing for our people.’
‘What do you think will happen?’ asked Laura. How do I know? Some Arabs say: this is Palestine we must kick the Jews out. Also there are many Jews who call us dogs, animals. They say: we must clear the land of the Arabs. Both are wrong. We are both human. We both need to live. We must live together.’ The boy returned and handed round the cups. It was mint tea. When he was ready the terzi continued: ‘Every morning I think that there could be peace. When I open the shop up in the morning Jews will drink coffee with me. Sometimes if I have problem with my telephone, my Jewish friend will say: use mine. Many of them are such lovely people. If only we could live in peace with them and there were no fighting, no killing…’
An excerpt from William Dalrymple’s, “In Xanadu”.
“Would you like to travel 900 miles for a cup of coffee?”
“900 miles? How many kilometers?”
“In the vicinity of 1500 kilometers.”
“The coffee would have to be great.”
“Or just some great company?”
“Are you asking me to have coffee with you?”
“Why can’t you ask me directly, like, “Would you like to have coffee with me?””
“I thought about asking you directly. But, I realized that I should ask you an open-ended question. You know, the kind in which I can follow up a negation with another question.”
“I don’t even know how to respond to that.”
“You don’t need to respond to that. So, would you like to travel 900 miles for a cup of coffee..err..with me?”
“I don’t know. Do you think it is a good idea, after what happened the last time?”
“It won’t be like the last time. He’s not in town. He won’t be back before next week.”
“I remember receiving a similar assurance from you even on the previous occasion!”
“You know, how unsettled I was by my own error, the last time.”
“And you really want to go through all of it again?”
“Why can’t you ever, not answer a question with a counter-question?”
“I’m not sure about this.”
“Neither am I. I had thought that you would show a little more interest.”
“What do you mean? Did you think that I would squeal in excitement at the chance of having to travel 900 miles to have a cup of coffee?”
“Yes, with me.”
“Let’s not talk again.” A click sound.
This post (hosting a video) is a first on the blog.
“Stranded in this spooky town,
Stoplight is swaying and the phone lines are down..”
“Driven by the strangle of vein showing no mercy I do it again,
Open up your eye, you keep on crying baby,
I’ll bleed you dry..”
Now, you know why. Ladies and gentlemen, Kings of Leon.
Disclaimer: (All credits to the owners of the song and video, respectively.)
Easy on the shrill ones there. Light on the sonorous ones. These are not just notes that you strike. I see what they hide, what they seek, what they hope for. With every chord that you touch, a scream finds passage or a smile finds spring.
This is not just a song, it is the story of your life. I make it so plain, but you would have us believe otherwise. Not today. No veiled glance, no silent notes.
A short write up in Devnagari.
हर रज़ा पर उनकी, हर साँस को शिकस्त है! किसी ज़ुबान में इसे, चाहत सा कुछ कहते हैं..
है हर उम्मीद दफ़न वहाँ, खत्म जहाँ उनकी तलाश है! किसी ज़ुबान में इसे, चाहत सा कुछ कहते हैं..
हर अश्क़ में उनके , जहाँ रंज का मोड़ है! किसी ज़ुबान में उसे, चाहत सा कुछ कहते हैं..
जुदा हैं जो ज़िन्दगी से, उनकी हर आस में वफ़ा है! किसी ज़ुबान में इसे, चाहत सा कुछ कहते हैं..
Hundreds of broken heroes return. They return on the highway. They return to their homes. They return to the mundane. They return to dullness. They are one trick ponies. They are free and happy, they return. They do not stop at any door, but their own.
Have you ever seen one? They return, with every dusk. Hundreds of broken heroes.
Starryrom was kind enough to offer a guest spot on her wonderful blog to me. This is a link to my piece on her blog. (Click on the title – hyperlink to navigate to the post.)