– Post by Sarah M. –
12.10.2018 – Day 16
We start the day very relaxed. In August the other Sarah had already told me that she absolutely wanted to visit a hairdresser in Ramallah. She was already there two years ago and completely enthusiastic. So enthusiastic that I was directly infected. We had already fixed the date on our second or third day in Ramallah and had already visited the hairdresser. And now the time has come. Sarah comes down to pick me up and we make a short detour to the bank to get money. Since it is Friday, the streets are pretty empty. On the way to the hairdresser we find a small kiosk that is open and stock up with chocolate buns and salt sticks. Five hours are planned for our little make-over today.
We are punctual to the minute (Just German things). An elderly lady opens the salon and explains to us that the hairdresser is stuck in traffic. So we wait and eat our little breakfast. Tamar and Jenny Z follow us and join us. About 1.5 hours later the hairdresser has finally made it through the traffic and, visibly stressed, enters the salon. He starts directly with me and my already freshly washed hair is washed again. And then the big spectacle begins – Sarah, who has meanwhile taken a seat on the chair next to me, looks pitifully at me because she knows what is happening. My hair will now be combed. ALL OF IT. I’m already afraid of how they’re going to get it out. But I trust Sarah, so I also trust the hairdresser.
The salon fills up more and more. Many customers simply come for washing and blow-drying. Some have their hair straightened or just have make-up done. In general, there is a lot of through-traffic in the shop and still the hairdresser manages to tie Jenny Z in somehow and gives her a new haircut. Tamar also plays with the idea of using the moment. She shocks us all when she tells us that she likes a perm. But everybody is enthusiastic about the idea. Except for the hairdresser, because there is definitely no time for that today. After Jenny is finished, the others go out to dinner, only Sarah and I stay – with terribly combed hair and blonde strands we occasionally throw pityful looks at each other and laugh. The salon becomes quieter and the hairdresser begins to talk to us more calmly. He asks if he could ask something about German history, we agree. “Were all Germans actually Nazis? Sarah and I are confused for a moment, but then explain to him that this was not the case. We narrate about concentration camps and persecutions of political opponents. The hairdresser listens eagerly and is visibly satisfied with the answer. He explains to us that the subject is simply not taught at schools in Palestine, even though it is often mentioned in the discussion about Israel. Now he also starts to talk – he tells about an incident with an Israeli who looked down to his son and said “Look, that’s an Arab, you’ll fight him when you grow up” and as he confronts him with what he heard, the guy replied “Oh, you are telling your children too!” Besides, he washes Sarah’s hair and explains to us that he never wants to raise his daughter like that. Even here in the hairdresser’s salon the topic about Israel continues to be discussed and there, where gossip and gossip are the order of the day, such stories seem somehow strange.
A girl brings me back to my chair too continue. She does not speak English. I do not speak Arabic. But I don’t like to talk to the hairdresser anyway. When combing out, the hairdresser always pulls my head a little bit to the back, because it is very bulky due to the combing – he says “You have to resist! Didnt you learn anything from your palestinian friends here?” – we all laughed. The mood in the shop gets a bit more tense, due to the delay this morning the schedule didn’t quite fit anymore and two regular customers are also pushed into the tight schedule. When my hair is washed out, a customer who still has colour in her hair, even helps to keep my strands apart so that we are faster, because there is only one sink. The hairdresser often apologizes, Sarah and I usually just smile and say that everything is ok. We had planned the time and it is actually quite comfortable here. At 18 o’clock the two of us leave the salon top-styled and freshly dyed – and are terribly hungry.
The others already had dinner, but Marios is convinced and we take a taxi to a restaurant where Sarah and Marios are regular guests. The two order quite wild things on the menu and there is even Carlsberg. A sense of home comes up with the German beer. We meet Mohammad, who is an actor in the theatre in Al Amari. He joins us and orders a whiskey. After some time one of the waiters notices that we are German and changes the playlist. My evening ends with KIZ and a quiet “Hurra, diese Welt geht unter.. (Hooray, this world is coming to an end…)” What irony.
13.10.2018 – Day 17
The preparations for our trip with the Bibliobus start today. Ahmad agreed to buy things with me and Aydin for tomorrow. Since he is still in university we agreed to meet at 12 o’clock. Shortly after twelve he informs us that he needs a little more time because he forgot his laptop. So we go in the direction of the first store. Sarah recommends an office supply store to us, which she knows used to have a cooperation with the Goethe Institute two years ago and we should find everything there. The shop is big and well organized and reminds me a bit of a German stationery shop. We quickly find what we were looking for and backed up with glitter and glue. The wool in the shop is very expensive and we can’t find batteries there either. When we ask for a bill, the cashier smiles and asks “Goethe?”. He explains to us afterwards that we get the things a little cheaper now, because the cooperation still exists. As we leave the shop we discover the Nutellashop on the other side. We decide it’s time for a little snack. There is a huge selection of desserts with Nutella. The shop doesn’t look like an official franchise but is very modern. I order Farfalle. A crepe is cut into noodle shape and then covered with chocolate sauce. Aydin orders a normal crepe and Sarah pancakes. Actually, everything is the same dough and the same sauce – only the design is different. After dinner we move on and buy the rest of the things. We visit more stationery shops and Ahmad leads us to a shopping center to a very hidden shop for which we have to go down three floors first. But downstairs there is the absolute handicraft paradise. He explains to us that the architecture students always shop here and Rawand recommended the shop. We really find everything what we were looking for here and can buy all the missing things.
The German participants are invited to Samers house today for dinner. Renad and him pick us up with the cars and four people are squeezed into one car again. But this time Jenny is not the spooned one, I guess she is a little sad about it. When we arrive at Samers Renad somehow manages to maneuver her Corsa into the labyrinth of narrow alleys that lead to the house. Samer leads us into his house and his mother and his aunt greet us. First, we take a seat in the salon and wait there. The smell of different spices is in the air. As we enter the living room we can see different dishes pile up on the table, there is a huge bowl with Mansaf (rice with meat), Kubbeh ( a thingy that looks like falafel ), Sambosek and grilled chicken with vegetables. And Baba Ghanoush (love it – thank you Samer !! )
There is absolute silence while eating. In between someone asks what is in one of the many bowls, sometimes someone just praises the food. We don’t manage to eat everything – everyone sits full and happy in their chairs and the silence continues – food coma. Everyone helps cleaning up as we are done eating and we go back to the salon. Samer brings a huge plate of fruit and we start cutting the fruit and handing it around. Although everyone is full it is a good desert along with tea and even the things from the bakery, which we brought with us as a present, are now served to us. On the way back home I’m sitting in Renad’s car again and she tells us that we have to pick up her sister at her Grandma’s on the way. We stop at a big gate that opens after Renad yells something. We all go into the living room together and Renad’s grandma greets us super friendly. She recognizes Jenny and laughs and tells her she knows her from Instagram! Two smaller girls, Renad’s nieces, play around us and we sit down on the sofa. In the background there is a live broadcast from Mecca. On top of the TV is an old key- so far I had only heard from stories that people keep old keys as a sign of hope, but somehow I like to see it in real life.
14.10.2018 – Day 18
The day starts relatively early – at 8:30 a.m. We are supposed to be at the Goethe Institute, so we meet at our apartment at 8 a.m.. Sarah, Aydin and I leave the apartment a little earlier to get some juice and something to eat on the way – since we don’t know how long the appointment will last, we prefer to prepare ourselves. We inform the others and meet directly at the Goethe. When we reach Goethe, nobody is there yet. The doors are closed and only Rawand is there. Suddenly Marlene, the cat of the Goethe Institute, appears. She wants to be stroked and just lies on top of me.
At 8:40 we decide to call Nabil because we are still waiting. Aydin dials his number and when he hangs up he just laughs. Nabil said on the phone that we had set 9 o’clock for our appointment. And he’s right about that – but after he said 9 o’clock, we agreed right away that we should meet at 8:30. And 8:30 then probably got stuck and of course we wanted to be there on time and so we agreed on 8 o’clock. Shortly after that the institute is opened. One woman from the Tamer Institute explains something in Arabic. The others translated that we drive to a village called Aizareyah and visit a Bedouin girls’ school there. She tells us that the boys should please behave calmly, because there are only women teachers and she doesn’t know how the girls will react, because normally something has happened when men visit the school. She does not explain what she means by “when something happened”. We don’t ask either. She asks a few more questions about our program and leaves off to the bus.
The Bibliobus drives ahead and shortly afterwards our driver shows up. The license plate is different from the other ones you see around here – it was black and white. Sarah says that this is a diplomat license plate and we are even allowed to drive on the Israeli roads. In front of the school there are about 30-40 girls in different school uniforms (blue and white stripes, brown or completely black), all wearing hijab and colourful school backpacks. The girls approach us directly and surround us. The voices roll over. It is a wild mixture of English and Arabic. We have to wait until the next lesson starts. So we sit in the office and wait. A lady brings us tea and water. At 11:20 we can finally go to the classroom. The girls all sit well-behaved in a row and stare at us as we enter the room. We all introduce ourselves and then rebuild the classroom with the girls to have two work tables. The girls are divided into two groups, one with 10 and the other with 11 girls. Ahmad and I go to the Calliope group and Mo’ath and Rawand tinker LED clouds with the other group. Sarah and Aydin want to observe and help out as needed. When we start with the Calliope workshop it quickly becomes clear that I can’t help. The girls’ english is not so good and they are more irritated than that it is helpful. I talk to Mo’ath and we switch groups. Handicrafts also work with hands and feet and my missing language skills are no longer a problem. The girls seem enthusiastic and do their work. They decorate the clouds with glitter and eyes and are busy tinkering. A group of girls even starts to decorate our big cloud, which we had brought along as an example. Also the workshop with the calliopes is going well. The girls share the iPads and calliopes and talk and try around. Ahmad and Mo’ath holding the workshop as two men doesn’t seem to be a problem at all. Some girls of the first group show me their finished clouds in between and ask “Beautiful?” I nod and they are happy. Some show me also certain parts of their cloud, for example ears out of pompoms and say something in Arabic. It seems as if they are asking for my opinion. I always just smile and say “Beautiful!”, mostly they laugh and are happy. When the bell rings, we try to clean the room – it’s a huge mess of glitter, glue and cotton waste. The girls all help diligently and the teacher is satisfied with the result. My teacher in Germany wouldn’t have accepted that, here the little glitter on the tables doesn’t bother anyone. And somehow it is also pretty sweet. Before we go we have to take a photo with the school principal. A little girl runs towards me and hands me a bag. I forgot my bag with the pi and our microscope in the room. I think it’s really sweet that she brought me the bag. She could have just kept the Pi. Nobody would have noticed that.
When we leave the building our bus is not there yet, Ahmad calls him – the bus is stuck in the traffic jam. We are all packed into the Goethebus and sit in the back of the library. He drives us now to our bus. The ride is bumpy, but quite funny. We are well rocked back and forth and laugh. After about five minutes we stop and can get on our bus. On the way we talk a little about our impressions. Everyone found the visit very positive. Having arrived at the Goethe Institute, Nabil already greets us. He says directly, “You people look tired, but this morning you were still so fit and motivated” and he is right. I look around and it’s not just me but everyone else who is pretty exhausted from our little trip. We explain to Nabil that it went really well and that we would like to continue next Sunday, but would now like to get some rest before we discuss any further plans. He laughs and says goodbye with a “Good night! The rest of the day is very quiet, we go out for some food and stroll. In the evening we watch Sex and the city in the apartment and everyone is happy about the silence after a long day.