Saturday, December 06, 2014

Give Peace Something, Anything

Ever had an experience when some song plays in the background, the perfect soundtrack for the moment? 

Happened to me tonight. 

Heading out for a bookstore, I flagged down a taxi and asked the driver in my pidgin Arabic to take me to “Maktaba Jarir fi shura Al Sary “(a bookstore on Sary street). We negotiated a fair price. I got in, sitting shotgun and found it a bit odd that John Lennon’s “Imagine” was playing. 

"Imagine there's no countries”

Usually the taxi drivers listen to Quran on the radio.If I drove a taxi in Saudi Arabia, I suppose I would also listen to prayers on a loop.

Within seconds, Lennon's soft piano chords and voice playing, he asked me the obligatory, “Where from?”. I braved it and told him America. He said, America! – America good, giving a thumbs up. Taliban, very bad. Very bad. 

He had a fair complexion, a fashionable, stubbly beard. I figured (correctly) that he was Tajik or Farsiwan– the second largest ethnic group in Afghanistan who originate from Iran, They're Muslims, but as far as the Taliban are concerned, the wrong flavor. Tajiks are Shia. 

"Nothing to kill or die for. "

We used a mixture of his broken English,my broken Arabic and the tiny, teensy bit of Farsi I know to chat. 

He told me that he had a brother living in Canada, with a Canadian passport and, inshallah, he hoped to join him soon. He worried about his family in Kabul, especially since Tajiks welcomed Americans and worked with them, many as translators, many filling the ranks of the army. He expected as soon as America goes, the Taliban will be back in charge and looking to settle scores

"And no religion too".

.My prayers, for what they’re worth, go out tonight to this young fellow, Isam, meaning the protector.

"Imagine all the people living life in peace"

And as I stepped out of the cab, I tipped him an extra 10 riyals, and the next song up –I kid you not – “What a Wonderful World”.

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