Taking the bus from Jerusalem going to Ramallah was quite an adventure. Ramallah is the de facto capital of the Palestinian Territory, and is just beside Jerusalem. But, the dividing Walls of the Occupation made the trip like Ramallah is a place of another planet – taking off the bus for a checkpoint and seriously staring at the Israeli soldiers looking at my passport – and thinking whether or not I was in the same bus, when reaching the other side of the Wall.
One thing I liked about taking the bus trip from Israel to the West Bank are stories shared by stranger-foreigners and the stares we secretly shared every time we have to show our passports and answer possible questions from soldiers – sure it was fine. When I stepped out of the bus, I was totally surprised…
Ramallah greeted me with people loudly talking to one another – like the Italians loudly talking few steps away; and the smokes and smells of kebab inviting my senses to come and taste; and the number of cars moving like dancers – I literally stopped walking, smiled and at that very moment, I cherished the opportunity seeing another world of people whom we rarely know. There I was, witnessing normal people busy with their own little ways in a beautiful, ancient city.
I stayed in St. Andrew’s Guest House in Al-Tireh district, a modern-looking part of the city, surrounded by mansions and luxurious residential condominiums. Here I had a glimpse how their women were living luxurious and modern – Muslim women with no hijabs, women driving luxury cars, women puffing cigar in Zaman coffee shop, women walking down the street in a short sleeves and shorts. I observed for 3 hours in Zaman, sitting, waiting for my colleague’s cousin to tour me around.