Adam Lichtenheld
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An Unorthodox Ride Home

March 26, 2009 @ 4:41 PM | Permalink

I don't think they could tell how annoyed I was. The car speakers blared Hotel California yet again, reminding me of that equally-obnoxious time when I was riding somewhere along the Oman-Yemen border and cursing a native for putting that same track on repeat. I never thought the day would come when I would contemplate hating The Eagles.

The front-seat passenger looked back--his name escaped me--and started rambling about his year-in-hell in Riyadh. No booze, which wouldn't have bothered him but he's Christian and depends on alcohol to duck the iron fist. "Fuckin' Saudis," he spewed bitterly. If I had 50 piasters for every time I had heard someone say "Fuckin' Saudis" in the Middle East I could afford a first-class ticket out of here.

"It's not enough that they have oil; they have to go and charge 7,000 per hajj"  said the Muslim driver. I remembered that he was called Hassan. I remembered because at the bar where I had met these two chaps a half-hour earlier, Hassan had started pleading with me to not let the Americans pull out of Iraq, since he's in the military supply business and the U.S. Army is his most valued customer. I don't think he had ever heard of the military-industrial complex. I don't think he even knew what a complex was.

 As we flew through the outskirts of Amman they started explaining to me that the aforecursed Saudi Arabia is the best place to get laid and that the best hashish in the world comes from the remote mountains of Afghanistan. Funny, I thought the Afghan's only trade was opium. I also thought that Hassan had said that we'd be going to the cinema. But this is what I like about living here--or liked, anyways. If I had jumped in a truck with a couple of random Americans back in southern Wisconsin and they began driving me out to no-man's land, then I'd be afraid. Very afraid.

 Like many locals, they really liked my name. It was "Arabic name" and I made a note to thank my parents for calling me something that's so culturally versatile. We finally stopped at a monstrosity of a house, in a monstrosity of a neighborhood, where Hassan was preparing to live with the fiancee that he seemed to really despise. For the next two hours they laughed hysterically as they showed me clips of Ahmed the Dead Terrorist.

And in true American form, I didn't have an exit strategy.


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