When the snow hit the Levant in February, our American in Arabia couldn't help but reflect on the paranoia that he observed in afflicted Arabs trying to 'survive' these daunting conditions. Still, Arabs sure know how to handle what life throws at them.
I’ll never forget the snow of 2008, which is odd since I grew up with snow and a lot of it. But being around Arabs when they get snow made this storm one to remember.
One evening in December of ’08, the local Arab news made an announcement that there may be snow. An hour later, you would have thought people were gearing up to hibernate for the winter. I stood and watched as they raided the malls for their reclusion essentials: bread, cigarettes, gas heaters, more bread, DVDs, coffee, and a surprising amount of Ketchup.
The government went ahead and canceled school for the rest of the month before a flake even hit the ground.
When the snow did begin to fall, it felt like a scene from War of The Worlds; everyone was frozen, staring upwards with a blend of excitement and fear towards the strange, foreign substance in the sky. Soon though, everyone was giddy.
And I mean everyone. People built snowmen on the rooves of their cars, with old and young alike becomimg snowball assasins. I’ll never forget walking out of my apartment and getting pelted in the head by two snowballs. When I turned to chew out the assailants, I saw three old Bedouins laughing their heads off as they chucked snow at anything that moved. I knew then that I was experiencing something very special.
The equivalent to this phenomenon in America may be when we have a power outage. I can count on my hand how many times I’d experienced blackouts when I was growing up.
But when it does happen, we don’t handle it well. Quickly we’re calling our friends to ask if there’s been a terrorist attack, huddling in one room and, to our shame, panicking. Seriously, we freeze up like the blue computer screen. If the blackout lasts longer than 30 minutes (and they usually never do), one of us musters the courage to get a candle lit.
Losing power to Middle Easterners, however, is like wearing ill-fitting underwear: they stop for a second, adjust and continue on with life.
No power? No problem. Light a candle, make some tea, and continue smoking. I wish we could respond to a power outage like they respond to a snowstorm. Instead of waiting in the dark, we should play hide and seek. And instead of frantically calling our friends, we should be prank calling our neighbors.
One friend of mine is Lebanese. She told me her dad said that during the blackouts of the Lebanese Civil War, he still did his studies… under the table .. by candlelight. Impressive indeed. Let’s face it, all I needed for an excuse to not do homework was ill- fitting underwear. Or a snow storm.
By Brett Weer
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