Monday, 25 April 2011

Flashback - interview

Months after the fact but...

I lucky enough to be invited to take part in a radio interview in January about Ussa Nabulsiyeh with the wonderful Alexander McNabb and Jessica Swann on their Techno Tuesday show on Dubai Eye 103.8.

I was in impressive company with some of the region's most prolific and well known bloggers:

SeaBee - Life in Dubai

Who-sane - Who-sane’s rants

Sarah Walton - Sandpit Diaries

Bebhinn Kelly - Hellawafashion

Micheline Hazou - Mich Cafe

Roba Al Assi - AndFarAway

The interviews can be found here. Mine is part 3 but I urge you to listen to all of them.

Go Middle East bloggers! We've seen over the past couple months just how important this global conversation we're taking part in is and it gives me a lot of pride to see how far the region is going with it.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Chapter 50 The hottest day of the year

"Soooo easy... impossible to get lost... one hour maximum you'll be there" said the world's friendliest taxi driver as he dropped us off at Wadi Zarqa (Blue Valley).

Cut to three and a half hours later and we're hopelessly lost, wandering around in a dry riverbed, in the suffocating heat, with no water and wondering how it was that we had managed to screw this up.

Unhelpfully, the few people we did run into all said things along the lines of the following:

"Sooooooo easy...just keeep going... you'll see it for sure. Just on top of the next mountain."

On we soldiered. Parched, dehydrated and edging dangerously close to cranky as we continued to not 'see it for sure'.

The fact that one could drink one's own urine three times over had, at this point, started to be bandied around at regular intervals.

"It" was a cave used by the Natufian tribe 15,000 years ago. There were, we were told, many caves in the area.

"Impossible to miss."

"They're everywhere."

They're not.

'That bastard mountain' as it was now being referred to (really it was more of a hill) was all that stood between us and the cave.

Four hours after we left on our one hour journey we reached the top of the mountain (hill). As we clamored to the top with our last remaining ounces of energy it quickly became obvious that there was no cave.

No cave for us.

No 15,000 year old remnants of times gone by. No cool shelter from the sun, no high fiving and frolicking in the long grass.

Just near fainting on the ground, unlikely threats to write stern letters to the author of the article that led us here and desperately hopeful talk about 'getting a ride' back to the mouth of the valley.

We eventually picked ourselves back up. Emptied the sand from our shoes and started on our way back.

45 minutes later - not joking, 45 minutes - we had reached the main road. Do not ask me how this is possible, I was just happy to find myself in a car... with water... on my way back home.

Finally - our high five moment.

While we made a pact to forget about the cave or ever trying to get to it again I have to say that during this long, painful hike I was reminded yet again of the beauty of the Palestinian landscape.

It was worth it.

(Not doing it again ever though)

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Chapter 49 An evening under the leaves

Under a canopy of leaves on a balmy night.

In the garden of a long forgotten sheesha place buried in Nablus's old souq.

A small crowd was treated to a live version of the very talented Mark Gonzales's "Letter to our loved ones".

Take out the backing track, add heart and a dimly lit seating area - magic.

Thank you PalFest.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Chapter 48 TEDxRamallah - glimpses

It was emotional, it was strong and it was proud.

It was groundbreaking.

Beirut, Amman and Bethlehem. Three countries, Over 20 talks and performances, one spectacularly run and presented event.

You can watch the event here so I won't go into the details.

I'll simply give you glimpses into the bits and pieces that touched and inspired me:

Mohamad El Dahshan: I love saying 'former president'

Sam Bahour: My Palestinian father can only come home as an American tourist for 3 months

Fadi Ghandour: Arab children read only 6 minutes a year as compared to 12000 in the west

Mohammad Khatib: people live passionately when given the space

Steve Sosebee: Don't be consumed by hate; humanity takes courage

Mark Gonzales: til olive trees no longer bleed

Khaled Sabawi: Not the two state solution, nor the 1 state solution - but the Green state solution

Leila Atshan: humor keeps me going

Wael Attili: keep rejecting templates

Gisel Kordestani: I'm not a doctor. I'm not an engineer. When I don't know what to do to make a change, I do what I know.

Go watch it - be inspired. Because in a country where the occupation hangs heavy, where bureaucracy can deter even the most determined and hope is sometimes forgotten - this was a statement.

This was a fist raised high in the air that says we will keep going.

We will make it.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Chapter 47 A why question...

I know it's coming up to summer and all but...

Who in Nablus is wearing this?