Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A-rab

So I realize that I haven't exactly made good on my promise to describe all of the people that I am living with, and since my living situation may be changing significantly in the near future, I thought I'd better say a few words about Nora and Nathanael.

Nora is a 24-year-old graduate student in African Studies at Yale. She was born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Kenya and Jerusalem. However, she is ethnically a white Dutch American with extremely pale skin and blond-blond hair, a fact that causes her stand out more than any of us, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition as she is the most familiar with the region by far and speaks the best French of anyone. She's extremely well-traveled and became for a short time upon our arrival the (somewhat unwilling) mother figure of the commune.

Nathanael (a.k.a. "the motorcycle guy" for those to whom it matters) was a graduate student at Yale when we met but has since accepted a position as a faculty fellow at Columbia in their Near Eastern Studies department. He is fluent in Japanese and has a working knowledge of French, Hebrew, German (sort of) and several ancient languages including Aramaic, Assyrian, Babylonian and Akkadian (although I don't know if you can actually say that those are all separate languages since some of them are so closely related). Nathanael and I knew each other before this trip, and I have really enjoyed the chance to get to know him better, as he is an extremely interesting and fun person as well as a really good friend. Unfortunately for me, he is leaving on Friday :(

On a lighter note, something kind of funny happened to me today while we were eating at our favorite restaurant in Tunis after class. I was talking to the guy who runs the place, and he asked me (in Arabic) what country I was from because I didn't look American like the rest of the people I was with :) He thought I was an Arab! Now the reason this is good, other than the fact that being American = not always so good in this part of the world, is that my tan is coming a long quite nicely, and the darker I get, the more I can pass for a local. Plus, hellllooooooo...I haven't had a good tan in years. That's big.

The next month of my stay here will likely be a wholly different experience than the past month has been. Not only with Nathanael be gone, but I will be living in the city (hopefully) with some of my undergrad friends, studying in a different level with a different teacher at the Institute (Homer isn't really doing it for me) and traveling more. It should be good...Inshallah.

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