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Movie with two Arab women

It was quite late into the night. I went to a movie with my buddy and two Arab girl-friends (i.e. friends who were girls, nothing more). The sherut (शेरूत – an Israeli shared taxi) dropped us at the gates of the Old city at 12:53 am (point A). Our destination was point B, across the Muslim Quarter along the narrow walkways.

Map of the old city
Map of the Old City. The points A-I are used to explain the events below

The four of us were laughing, joking and talking about the movie until reality stuck us. It was late night and we had to cross the Muslim Quarter. Women were not allowed to travel alone after 9 pm. They had to married and accompanied by their husband. Hanging out with male friends so late at night was against the rules. The punishment was death for the girls and 200 lashes for the guys (not sure if rules were different for non-Muslim guys).

We were two Hindu guys with two Muslim girls, trying to cross to point B.

One of the girls was called Hafza and I don’t remember the name of the other. Hafza wore religious black head dressing, while the other girl was modern, dressed in jeans. The four of us were so close friends that we never realized until now that we belonged to different religions, or such man-made differences.

We became serious. As a self-declared leader I announced: “Three of you stay here (outside the gates) while I go and checkout if it’s safe inside. Don’t go anywhere.” I asked my buddy to protect the girls (ah, how sexist!).

Ignoring their protests, I ventured in. It was typical old city. Nobody around, occasional drunkards (strange to find them in Muslim quarter) and drug addicts lingering and looking at me with suspicion. For a moment I thought I was on those narrow alleys of Mumbai or Toronto. I started to run on the route. Too bad it was too dark, I couldn’t see my feet and everything was so confusing. At point C, instead of going straight, I took a left turn – blunder…..

In total darkness, I ran till point D because I saw light there. To my right side was a Turkish shuk (शुक् – market) – brightly lit and very clean. Just one perfume shop was open. The guy inside was wearing a blue Islamic cap. He looked at me and sneered (as if mocking at my panic). I went back and continued to point E, which was a junction again.

Darkness

PS: I hate junctions.

I turned left and approached gate F. It was a huge gate, really massive. It looked similar to the Damascus gate, except that it looked evil and gloomy. The doors creaked. They were closing. There were men and women standing in front of the gate. Someone started yelling भागो भागो… (run, run!) and as the gates closed they started running. There was loud music, someone playing a Flute and मृदंगम् (Mridangam – South Indian percussion instrument).

Large gateI started running too. The road was a steep hike and I was trying my best to run but even the women dressed in blue abayas were overtaking me. Somehow overcoming the screams and fear, I made it out to gate G. I was exhausted with all this running around in darkness, full of fear and panic.

I saw a plaza in the front. I recognized it was the tourist plaza in the Jewish quarter where I clicked pictures yesterday. I saw few tourists and tour buses there. Somehow I dragged myself to point H.

Holy shit, I was lost (realization 1). It was 30 minutes since I left my friends at point A (realization 2). I didn’t carry my cellphone today (realization 3). I couldn’t speak Arabic or Hebrew (realization 4). I was terribly worried about the safety of my friends (realization 5). What can I do now? Going back would mean another half-hour of running thru terrifying dark alleys.

I collapsed on the floor crying, unable to take all of that.

1:23 am. But then I told myself to get rid of the melodrama and got in control of myself. I got up and started looking for help. Tourists were running towards the bus and the driver was honking. I wanted a cellphone and I was ready to steal one if I didn’t find any. I saw 2 girls and begged them to make a call from their cell phone. I waved a 10 Shekel note (Rs. 40 or $2.5) at them. But like any other friendly Israelis I met, they simply gave me their cellphone. It was a RIM blackberry.

I started dialing the number. But I couldn’t. My hands were shaking, my eyes were full of tears and I was so weak that I couldn’t press the buttons. Embarrassed, I asked them to help. The girl dialed the number. Suddenly ten little Arab kids appeared there from somewhere, grabbed the cellphone from the girls and held it to my ear (aww.. so nice). Probably because I looked so damn weak that I couldn’t hold a cellphone. When the call connected, they all yelled – “helloooo….” I took the phone and said, “I’m okay, Toda (तोदा – Hebrew for Thanks.)” They turned away without saying a word, strange. Then I realized they were Arab Muslims (and probably trained to be apathetic to Hebrew) so I shouted again Shukran (शुकरान् – Arabic for Thanks.) They turned, smiled, waved and disappeared.

Back to the call, I started blabbering to my friend in Marathi (strange!). I was so delighted to hear my friend’s relaxed voice that I talking to him frantically. He said बोल बोल, मी बघतोय (keep talking, I am seeing it). What the hell…. I turned around and there he was – walking from point I to point H. The girls were giggling too.

Their situation was stark in contrast to mine. I felt like I was almost dead. Although I was so relieved to see the three of them safe and sound, I was agitated at my buddy for being so risky. It was me who proposed the night movie idea. Although tourist, I was the guy who knew the streets well. The Muslim girls (locals) were my responsibility. I was agitated, I roared and ran towards my buddy, with this strong urge to slap him.

“Dude, it’s okay trust others too”, he said.

I wake up with a shock, look at the watch, it was 1:30 am. That’s right, this was a dream.

Influences:
– Recent trip to Jerusalem old city and one night when I was roaming there with friends.
– Asking strangers in Israel if I can use their cell phone
– Turkish shuk in Akko (Will post about this shortly)
– My superior (self-declared) map reading and navigation skill
– Japanese anime – I have to protect my friends at the cost of my life

Like I said, all this was a dream. Feel free to tell me what you think it means:

Published inBackpack and CameraWhat am I upto?

44 Comments

  1. @%@%$#!*(&^%$
    Now I feel like slapping you !! HARDDDDD

    %@&#[email protected]@[email protected]
    I read it with so much intensity and kept on looking the map while reading your story and it all came out a dream ??

    Excellent write. Perfectly describes you whatever I know of you. I am in no position right now to comment more. It happens with me also..

  2. Cuckoo:
    HAHAHA… shall I say ‘Mission accomplished’!
    and this time you commented first 😉

  3. %@^*@%#[email protected]%
    You laughing ??? Meri jaan nikal gayi thi. Kya bolu ab main. Hazaar galiyaan dene ka man kar raha hai.
    I’ll refrain myself with %@&&!%[email protected]%@ again. 😀
    haan haan I know I commented first.

    BTW, have you seen my new home ?

  4. I know I know 😉
    Yes, I am checking it out right now – Cuckoo’s new nest

  5. Pappu, accha yeda banaya 🙂
    How did the Arab girls look?? 🙂

  6. Nice! damn nice!
    I did have a feeling that this was all a dream…
    and I know that you are the last one to panic, though the situation was scary indeed.

    Keep Posting!

  7. Vaarun:
    They looked like any other girls 😛 You know what I mean!

    Devendra:
    oh you know me quite well to not fall into the trap.

  8. :-), typically Priyank, second para and i knew this was a dream :D. I enjoyed it though!

  9. Gauri:
    Typically Priyank? hahaha… so now you can recognise too.. Good to know you enjoyed it!

  10. Ash Ash

    I liked your story Puku! It was like a thriller movie. So tell me really, you don’t trust others or think you are a superman or what? 😉 They say dreams speak the truth. khara khara saang…

  11. priyank
    after goin through half ur post i figured that it was a dream u were having

    cool dude ur a real traveller….

  12. Ash:
    I am going to pretend that you never asked that question 😀

    Prax:
    Thanks for the compliments man!

  13. Hmm.
    Someone’s been reading too much of Arabian nights 🙂
    But a great dream story. I think you should write about the sequel when the girls fall for you 😛

  14. Raji Raji

    The blog heading only showed that it is not part of the Isreal travelogue series. and by any chance, if it was real, it would have been blogged by you already in these days. you cudn;t have waited so long to share such an interesting episode.
    Saala… time paas karta hai.

    baki saari influence to thik hai but ab tu bata, ye girls (that too arab) ki influence kahan se aai : )))

  15. Kevin:
    Writing a sequel is a good idea, but not on those lines for sure 😛

  16. Raji:
    Only you (among the commentors) detected that heading thing! And yeah, about girls, I had the same question myself 😉

  17. AZZenny AZZenny

    As soon as you mentioned ‘death to the girls’ and ‘200 lashes’ — I knew this wasn’t in Jerusalem, so maybe this is some Muslim old city in India? Then decided you were far more easily freaked out than I’d imagined, after throwing yourself onto a bus full of Israeli soldiers and hitching a ride.
    Good story, though, and nice moral.

  18. Yeah, in the middle of it, I found it to be exaggerating and that ‘tears n cellphone’ stuff certainly had a dubious nature. But the end simply delighted me. Interesting read!

  19. AZZenny:
    Oh you are Israeli, ofcourse you will know this was not real!
    Well the punishment part was from the incidents heard in Saudi Arabia and Iran…. We don’t have such barbaric laws in India, no way 😉 But the setting of this dream was completely in Israel and many incidents – dark alleys, getting lost, asking for cellphone, using Shukran etc. did happen to me!

  20. Deepika:
    Thanks yaar! In dreams we tend to see exaggerated events, don’t we 😉

  21. I thought there was something anticlimatic about the story when I was reading it mid way..but then I thought its my cynical self and fell for it …great storytelling..

  22. Lakshmi (backpakker):
    Good to know you fell for the trap:) cheers!

  23. wonderful piece of writing! You had “clues” scattered around (things that seemed odd/strange, out of place) but the riveting style made me “gloss over them” completely! Excellent indeed!

  24. Arun:
    Yep, there were clues but I tried to minimize their scale to make it sound more reallike 😉 And looks like it was successful:) Thanks!

  25. Such details in a dream! u cud be one of those geniuses who dream their creations 🙂

  26. Hey Buddy. Nice post! I screwed up a lot of my time and concentration every time you referred t some gate or some point. I really had to scroll mouse quite a lot of times to have a look at the map. In the end it turned out to be a fuss. Chyayala, sagala time pass zaala! LOL

  27. Smita:
    Welcome to my website. Yeah my dreams are very meticulous, but I am still waiting to qualify as a genius 😉

  28. Mayur:
    Welcome to priyank.com…. i sympathize with you 😀 पण वाचून मजा आली ना !

  29. thats one hell of a story man! 😉 you should write novels or something

  30. Sushmita (shooting star):
    hehehe… yes I do 😛 But this story came ready made for me!

  31. aMmAr:
    Thats right, thats going to be next 😉 Thanks!

  32. Salloni Salloni

    Good one! I would say your dreams are pretty logical :P.. In my dreams the events are so disjoint they dont even make any sense.. 😛
    P.S. Don’t try to judge me on this! 🙂

  33. Salloni:
    Thanks! Logical? hehehe, maybe this one was, not all. And hey, I’m the last person to judge someone 😉

  34. Gotta admit it buddy.. You are a master in time management 🙂

    Juggling MBA studies with such a descriptive blog!!

    Good one!

  35. God damn u priyank… cudnt u dream anything better… and if u cudnt … cudnt u spare us this nightmare??!!!

  36. Ashutosh:
    gaaa… $%^$ I hope what you say is indeed true!

  37. Minal:
    like I said to others – HAHA… happy to see you trapped too 🙂

  38. That cleared up some confusion I had about my Arabian, great article

  39. too many details to be a dream… But well crafted!!!

  40. Arabian Stallions:
    Thanks for your comment.

  41. Swapneel:
    Yeah man, my dreams are very technical and detailed.

  42. What a detailed dream! I’m impressed that you rememember so much.

    • Thanks Erica. I remembered because I wrote this next day morning 🙂

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