Tonight, Easter night, was a complete juxtaposition from earlier today. We took a nap after the festivities of the day and proceeded to the Arab surrounded Damascus Gate because it’s the only section that was open today. Today, in conjunction with Easter is also the second Seder for Pesach so all of Jewish Jerusalem was closed. Farid, my Palestinian friend who likes me a little too much, came and picked Dave and I up. We drove up to his neighborhood next to the Mt. of Olives where we ate in a couch lined, domed ceiling, 500 year old restaurant in a cave. The owner, Farid’s friend who explained that the foundations under where we were eating were 2000 year old remains, but the Archeological Society wouldn’t let them dig anymore. We had an overpowering meal with way too much food and even more meat. Farid, well really Arab men in general always make me feel a little bit awkward. Male and female interaction is awkward, with cultural boundaries that seem to criss-cross and them slam into each other somewhere in the middle.
Flirting, jealousy and possession are three intense, and vastly differently viewed issues between Arab men and non-Arab men. Maybe due to rearing practices, or maybe just a cultural phenomenon, Arab women and men aren’t raised to interact with each other to the same extent as in the western world. The social and gender hierarchies exist to a greater extent and are most evident in one on interactions. We left the restaurant and traipsed through dark alleys surrounded by walls of Jerusalem stone, up back staircases and to a house that was the home of the guy who owned the restaurant. We sat on the couches in this domed home and smoked sheesha, watched music videos and drank while simultaneously conversing in three languages; switching from one to the other without thought. Farid stared at me all night, making Rob really uncomfortable since he was sitting in between us. Basically it was a typical night like one I would’ve spent in the Arab world- smoking, music, good, tv and political conversations. I later found out that one of the guys we were with had just been released from jail. I asked him what for. Nonchalantly, he laughed and said he wouldn’t tell me. Needless to say, I was a bit worried. Then Rob and I returned to our hostel and passed out.