Sunday, September 7, 2014

Arabs, Arabs, Everywhere!

Everywhere I go in Boston, I see someone from the Arab community. I really did not even know many were here before I spent two years in the Middle East. Now, I see them everywhere and there are lots of them. I also see hookah bars, shawarma houses, and kebab restaurants.

The other night as I walked along South Boston's waterfront park, I saw three skunks on the side of a path hidden among shoulder-high decorative grass. I saw two young men approaching from the other direction and I tried to get them to stop and circle around the path where the skunks were hidden, but they did not stop. The men were probably around 19 years old and they had little English. This one man was offended that I was trying to stop him, so he stopped two feet away from the skunk and started yelling at me. I kept waving him closer to me, but he did not understand. Eventually, they passed by the skunks without incident. They probably do not even know what skunks can do.

As I walked a few steps further, a very large photo with a Palestinian head covering caught my eye. I did not know whose image was on the poster and I did not dare to peer any closer because two Arab men were sitting on the deck smoking cigarettes.

The week was fun because a friend of mine was visiting from Amman to get her son settled into an apartment in Boston as he attends university. His good friend from Jordan and his sister came to visit as he settles in.

As I reached my 10,000 daily steps with a nightly walk, I took a shortcut across the lawn of Castle Island. This one man came out to greet me because I think he thought I was crossing the law to speak with him. His family was having a picnic, smoking shisha, and just soaking in the evening's last light. He told me about his family and his ventures then he noticed his three-year old daughter was missing. After he went running for her, I said, "Marhaba." Her eyes lit up and she started speaking in Arabic with words I understood. I felt happy to speak - even though it was at a toddler's level. We exchanged goodbyes as I continued with my walk.

Walking is still therapeutic. It is better than ice cream. It lifted my spirits for a week that was merely O.K., but left me feeling a little down. The exercise and the connection helped me get my energy back. The whole school week begins in earnest this week and somehow I'll get myself going.


  1. This is so true about your experience with the Arabs, it seems to happen with many things. Have you ever learned a new word and suddenly you see that word used so many places? When my son first moved to Spain, I visited and came home and saw Spanish things everywhere, especially in the supermarket. Spanish olives, Spanish onions, Spanish paprika, Spanish saffron, etc.

    1. It makes it fun. It also shows us how much we filter out what is not relevant to us. It makes us wonder how much of the world we miss.