JERUSALEM POST BLOG 8 – That indefinable something something.
Dome of the Rock. Someone who’s unfamiliar with the Middle East could be forgiven to assume it the name of a rock band. But then again, someone very familiar with the Middle East, and Ramallah specifically, will know that it is in fact the name of a rock band.
I was quite excited at the prospect of finally seeing them in action that night. Shouldn’t be a problem to get back in time from a little afternoon jaunt to Nablus. There, the Popular Art Center, one of the local partner organizations of my Belgian employer had put together a music festival by, and for children. Tantamount to the target audience was a little fairground train that honked cheerily, bulging on the sides with its ecstatic, cling-on passengers as it circumnavigated the ear-shell amphitheater on the hillside.
Over yonder a Ferris wheel rolled on into the evening, neon-lit and shining like a single keep-spinning rim of a pimped-out monster truck. At around five-ish the festival was kicked off by our hosts, a boy in a sharply-cut suit and tie, and a girl with wavy charcoal hair wearing traditional garbs in beautiful crimson. At that time, Dome of the Rock, being a rock band and all, were probably just beginning to think of waking up, let alone trash a hotel room. I was quite confident I’d make it to the concert.
In Nablus meanwhile, an impressive line-up of debke groups and choirs, delegated by youth clubs and refugee camps from all over the West Bank, was passing the revue. Of a certain group of colorfully clad dancers one particular boy stood out, or rather jumped out. His charisma and prowess at the art of traditional debke dancing electrified a rapt audience.
“He’s deaf,” a voice beside me stated unbidden.
“Excuse me?” I answered, prying my eyes away from the spectacle. “That kid.” The owner of the voice was pointing toward the one particular boy, the good dancer. “He’s deaf. He can’t hear anything.” “Uhu,” I said, incredulous. “Seriously, he just looks at what everybody else is doing, imitates it, and somehow manages to do it better.” The story was later confirmed to me by various sources. “Waaw,” I ruminated, “that’s even better than that rock band with the one-armed drummer.” It was eight o’clock, and my thoughts had already begun the trek back to Ramallah, to electric guitars and flying mic stands. Dome of the Rock. Was I going to make it in time?
The clam-shell auditorium was brimming with families, enjoying a night out. Finally. Nablus, unlike Ramallah, is not quite the region’s entertainment hub. More often than music, the crackle of automatic rifles and the thud of grenades lambast the balmy evening air. Many residents haven’t left the city in over seven years. Tonight though there is lemonade, and balloons, and train rides. Tonight there is madly dashing across the area in front of the stage that’s declared off limits by a pack of motivated yet ultimately powerless ushers. Catch me if you can. Shrieks of laughter. Music really does soften the soul, makes you forget about time and place.
I never made it back in time for the Dome of the Rock of course. Who was I kidding? Somehow though I felt buoyant regardless, infused with that indefinable something something. I guess you could call it rock ‘n’ roll. As the buss pulled out of Nablus I watched that pimped-out Ferris wheel, spinning and spinning.
1. I remember on the first episode of “Power Rangers” (the one I watched as a kid) there was a deaf girl doing aerobics. In my later life I pondered just how (let alone why) someone could do that. I guess that answered my question. Keiper, Norfolk, USA, Sep 19 5:09AM