Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Arabic Shawarma!

More than anything else, language is identity.
This is not how I've always felt about language (eventhough I have lived in non-Arabic countries before,) but today I came upon quite unexpectedly.
I was hungry, and I'm always more spontanious when hungry!
In PSU's campus there's a little "shawarma" hut, and I planned on trying it for the first time. As I approached it, a man looked out the window and called "Hi!" I knew he was Lebanese from his accent and the whole setting, so I casually said "marhaba!" The minute I said it, something clicked in the man's face and he asked how I was doing in Arabic.
A line of familiarity glowed between us. Invisible rays between a sender and receiver, two that are working within the same system. He was not overly friendly, and I was not jumping up and down. We were simply exchanging a hungry girl and a"shawarma" cook conversation, but as Arabic threaded the distance between our mouths, the external space grew lose and began to tear off. It became a gray area. An area that is clueless and alien. Looking over my shoulder at two girls who are waiting for their turn to order, I felt seperated and different in a positive way. I felt elect. The hut was now more than a small badly painted place selling "shawarma" and "falafel," it became MY hut. My place.

The man who comes from a country that is hundred of miles away from Saudi Arabia, handed me my plate. He knew and I knew many things about one another. The type of knowledge that old friends have, and need not recite everytime they meet. So we waved our "thanx" and "welcomes" and backed into seperate worlds that were regaining their ordinary color.

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