“Buy before you die!”

The ten-year-old hawker in the Old City may or may not have known what he implied.
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Such an intriguing place, so many obviously different types of people, mingling altogether, all over, with a few clearly marked locations for “members only.” We were both denied entrance to Al-Aqsa and the Temple Mount, and I was hustled away from the men’s part of the Western Wall thinking that was odd – surely I’ve seen pictures of women at The Wall? Yes, there is a segregated section. I also inquired about a jacket. “Yes ma’am, but that’s for men.” “Does that mean you won’t sell it to me?” I asked. “I want to sell it, yes,” he replied, “but it is cut in a man’s style.” “He does not want any harm to come to you,” my erstwhile traveling companion commented. This after we had remarked on the utter failure of my attempt to dress a bit more “girly” in order to attempt to blend in (at least as far as gender norms go) a bit moreso than usual. Too bad my women’s slacks are lime green. No one else in all of Jerusalem was dressed as brightly as me! oops :-/ {sheepish foreigner grin} But but but!
We wandered for hours and took lots of pix before huddling into a bar during an afternoon rain for some reading: Three Cups of Tea, about the establishment of primary schools, particularly for girls, throughout northeastern Pakistan and later, Afghanistan. The Central Asia Institute grew from the extraordinary efforts of an American mountain climber and hundreds of Pakistanis who invested all their dreams in hope for their children’s education.
The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats was read by Jon Krakauer as he introduced the man behind the Central Asia Institute, Greg Mortenson:

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”

Mortenson was in Pakistan on 9/11. Three days later, Mortenson attended a school dedication in Kuardu, where a moderate Muslim religious leader, Syed Abbas, gave “an incredible speech” (257).

I request America to look into our hearts…and see that the great majority of us are not terrorists, but good and simple people. Our land is stricken with poverty because we are without education. But today, another candle of knowledge has been lit. In the name of Allah the Almighty, may it light our way out of the darkness we find ourselves in (257).

Mortenson stayed to see on-going projects through, returning many times and eventually expanding into Afghanistan.

3 thoughts on ““Buy before you die!””

  1. Jake! You too – I had the most amazing Palestinian meal. Seriously.
    Now I’m counting down to Winter Solstice. You hanging in there?

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