Monday, December 13, 2010

Mass and Musical Slaughter of Small Birds in the Syrian Desert

6:30 AM: The silence of the desert is broken by operatic quality songbirds, accompanied harmoniously, that is if you are a weapons manufacturer, by an orchestra of gun shots. We wake instantly, bearing witness to the slaughtering of mass number of our feathered friends, a pre-recorded track of birds chirping meant to attract what little life there was (past tense) in the desert to its demise. The dead birds will be sold at market for food, the slaughtering is relentless. The longer it goes on, the more uncomfortable we get.
Haji is still asleep, hung over from his night of drinking. I shake him gently wanting to leave, he’s unresponsive.
“You guys want to go too, right?” I ask Annie and Lars. They nod. I ask Annie how to say “Get up now!” in German.
“Stehen Sie jetzt aufI,” I yell over Haji, hoping to replicate the same warmth of the average German, or Nazi SS Officer, whichever is greater. Annie and Lars shake their heads, in disbelief of my total lack of shame or manners. “Stehen Sie jetzt aufI!!” I command again, but Haji remains unresponsive.
“Stop using my beautiful language like that,” Annie complains.
“Stehen Sie jetzt aufI Haji!!” I shout once more. Slowly the blanket is lifted, Haji looks at me with bewilderment. “Richard, are you crazy?” he asks.
“Just teasing the German,” I respond.
“Oh,” smiles Haji, pulling the blankets back over his head. I wait a beat.
“Stehen Sie jetzt aufI!!!!”
Annie groans. Haji chuckles under the blanket.

You see, poor Annie was getting pummeled continually from all sides, the only girl amongst three, maturity wise pre-adolescent men, each with a third degree black belt in teasing. A typical joke went something like this- after smashing a fly, I look up and proudly state, “Now we have all killed something. Lars shot a deer, Haji has killed a rabbit, I just swatted a fly, and Annie, well … Annie is German.”
We teased Annie non-stop. She had no idea just how nationalistic she was until we got done with her.
Haji told her, “English is good for business, Italian is good for romance, French is good for poetry, German is good for giving orders, but Arabic, Arabic is good for all.” Annie was not a fan, especially as a journalist, that we were making fun of her harsh sounding mother tongue, but let’s face it, Haji was right.
Eventually Haji got up, and after, what was for me, an overly leisure breakfast, we left the Syrians to finish destroying their environment. I suppose we all have to earn a living …
Camels in the Syrian desert

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