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Ω2

You’ve got mail, in Palestine!

   The first days I was studying in university, in Greece, I was on a queue waiting to deliver my homework. I heard a classmate in front of me saying that he’s looking for a flatmate. I jumped the queue to tell him that I’m looking for a flatmate too! That’s how I first met Ahmed back in 2001. He is a Palestinian who had migrated to Greece in order to study informatics. He had already attended a Greek language course and we could communicate in Greek. We always had fun talking about strange Greek words and similarities between Arabic and Greek.

   We were living in the same house with Ahmed for four years. I soon realized his personality is a treasure. He’s one of the most honest, helpful and generous people I have ever met. He was always cleaning and tidying up and we never had any argument at home. Ahmed is a Muslim who always respected me being Christian. This made no difference, actually. He never forgets to wish me Merry Christmas and Happy Easter. Sometimes I was feeling ashamed because I didn’t know when the Ramadan ended to wish him back…

Ahmed was my flatmate in Greece since 2001 and we became such good friends, we call each other

Ahmed was my flatmate in Greece since 2001 and we became such good friends, we call each other “brother”…

   We became so good friends with Ahmed, that we call each other “brother”. The moment came that I wanted to hit the road to Africa and Middle East. We knew my adventures would keep me on the road for years. One of the most difficult sacrifices somebody has to make, when he decides to live a nomadic life, is detaching from family and friends. There is always hope, so we were dreaming with Ahmed to meet each other next time in his homeland, which I was wishing to visit during my adventures. Therefore, we didn’t say “goodbye”. We said: “See you in Palestine, bro”!

It was looking so far… To tell the truth, I didn’t even know myself if I would be able to visit Palestine! After almost three years and 96,000 km (59,653 miles) exploring the African continent, I reached Palestine having Stella on my saddle. I was always in contact with Ahmed but unfortunately, he wasn’t there. He had graduated and left Greece, since his visa was valid only as long as he was studying. On top of that, the manmade economic crisis in Greece pushed Ahmed to migrate to yet another country. By that time he was working in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. However, he gave me the contact details of his family.

It was the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and we happened to be with Ahmed's family at the moment everybody breaks his daytime's fast, so we were invited, of course...

It was the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and we happened to be with Ahmed’s family at the moment everybody breaks his daytime’s fast, so we were invited, of course…

   Most of Ahmed’s family live nowadays in neighboring Amman, Jordan. They were some of millions of Palestinians who were forced to migrate there after Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Ahmed’s origin is in Bethlehem and he got family members who resisted the fierce war and they still try to survive in the occupied area where they were born. We rode my motorcycle to the designated neighborhood and we asked for Ahmed’s uncle. Somebody who couldn’t speak English, just stopped a passing car, got inside and told us to follow him. They took us to the family’s house. It was the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and we happened to be there around sunset, which is the time that they break their daytime’s fast and the whole families eat together. Having a guest for dinner is considered a gift from God, so we couldn’t refuse the family’s invitation to join their plentiful meal, despite the fact they were not expecting us.

   The appetizer was a soup with bulgur, while the main dish women cooked was musakhan, Palestine’s national dish! It’s chicken baked in the oven with pita bread and sautéed onions and pine nuts, sumac, saffron and other aromatic spices. The salad was consisting of finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and tahini. On top of all those, there was a dessert of qatayef. That’s a sweet dumpling filled with cheese, which is often served during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Musakhan: Palestine's national dish! It's chicken baked in the oven with pita bread and sautéed onions and pine nuts, sumac, saffron and other aromatic spices.

Musakhan: Palestine’s national dish! It’s chicken baked in the oven with pita bread and sautéed onions and pine nuts, sumac, saffron and other aromatic spices.

   After such a huge and tasty meal, we sat in the living room discussing over hot glasses of mint tea. They were explaining us about the hardships of living under the military occupation of Israel. I told them about my life with Ahmed in Greece and they were eager to hear his news. We actually called him and we talked all together through the phone.

   This was the last action of the “You’ve got mail” project that I was conducting around the Balkans, Africa and Middle East. It was also the most touching one… On one hand, the reason is my long and deep personal contact with the protagonist of this story. On the other hand, probably most importantly, another reason is my deep sorrow for these people who are refused for decades their basic right to live peacefully and with dignity on their own land. The goal of this project was to publish the stories of refugees and immigrants and let people know about their neighbours. We all share the same world after all… My goal always is to build bridges between people and not walls. Of course, I cannot oppose the huge 712-km (442 miles) wall that Israel built around the occupied territories. However, if we all refuse putting a stone on that inhuman wall and we put it instead to build a bridge, our world will be much more peaceful…

Discussing about the hardships of living under the military occupation of Israel...

Discussing about the hardships of living under the military occupation of Israel…

Dedicated to Ahmed and all the People, Palestinians, Israelis and others, who really struggle to make peace in this land and elsewhere…

 

Where is mad nomad
Τα βιβλία μου

Κυκλοφόρησε το βιβλίο σχετικά με το ταξίδι μου στην Αφρική και τη Μέση Ανατολή!

 

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