Tuesday, November 04, 2003

The Pope's Doorman

I've learned a few more sentences in Arabic. Ibni bawaab bayt Albaba: My son is the doorman of the pope's house. Literally it says my son doorman house the pope. Hmmm.

I went to a party for graduate students the other night, and met a bunch of people...Two Australians, an Indian Brahmin, A Finn (is that how you say it?) a few Germans, a couple Eastern Europeans (Polish, Hungarian, Russian) a Canadian, and a grand total of two Americans. We are extremely underrepresented in the graduate program, which I actually like. I am not accustomed to being a minority. Luckily the conversation never turned to America and how badly it sucks (a conversation I'm used to having when I meet Europeans especially). Instead we focused on safe topics, like our majors and how many languages we speak and what we make of Israel. But I could tell beneath the surface there were opinions and arguments just waiting to come out.

It's just something about Israel. I remember at home how often people would shy away from outright arguing about religion and politics (with the exception of a few), not wanting to "get into it." Not so here. It's as if Israelis are just looking for a good fight. They talk loud; they talk forcefully; and they talk a lot. And yet, nobody ever gets mad. The argument can blow up, be huge, and then be over and everyone wants pizza. I find it fascinating, and it's having an effect on me, and all the other strangers here. We're all ready to argue. Not that I've ever been afraid of sharing my opinion, but...

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