Goody Two Shoes Meets Ali at the Market
It was about 9 months ago; a ceasefire was holding in Gaza. Here in Jerusalem, however, there were daily clashes between the IDF (Israel’s Army) and Arab residents of East Jerusalem, resulting in many injuries and a lot of fear and anger.
I live in West Jerusalem, so for the most part I watched the clashes on the news. I watched them with fear and anger, which produced in me frustration and, to some degree, depression and cynicism. I wondered how people are coping with their daily lives. I was soon to get a glimpse.
Christmas time was approaching. My weekly 'Christmas budget allowance' would be spent on dried fruit to make my famous fruit and nut mix that is loved by all (Abbsi wanted several kilos-she is a big fan of it).
The easiest and cheapest way to buy dried fruit and nuts is to go to the Jewish market in the centre of town. I could grow my own fruit and nut trees and do it myself, but living on the 3rd floor without a garden prevents me (thank goodness!).
So off I went with backpack and shopping bags. I passed by a well-stocked cheese stall, full of tasty cheeses. As a gesture of goodwill and a moment of romantic feeling, I bought my husband several types and colours of cheese. He loves cheese.
The salesman spoke to me in Hebrew even though he was an Arabic speaker. I answered him in Arabic. After a few rounds of this, I asked him where he lived, resulting in the following discussion:
CM = Ali the cheese salesman GTS = Goody Two Shoes
CM: “I live in the Old City (of Jerusalem).”
GTS : “My Goodness! How do you get to work? Are you ok?”
CM looks uncomfortable that I am speaking Arabic and looks from side to side to see if his boss is listening.
GTS : “Do you want to speak in English?”
CM: (In English) “Thanks God, today was much easier. It only took me 3 stops where I had to hide to dodge bullets! It is very crazy right now but I have to come to work.”
GTS : “What were you doing?”
CM : “Just coming to work.”
GTS: “Bethlehem seems quieter than Jerusalem at the moment.”
CM: “You go there?!?!?!?!?”
CM : “Then go to George Supermarket-same cheese, much cheaper.”
GTS: “Thanks and be careful going home.”
What a helpful young man, I thought, who risks his life to come to work to sell me cheese.
Romantic feelings gone...back to the anger and depression of the situation.
Thought: You never ever know what other people are going through.