"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dry humor seems fitting for a book that has many stories from the desert, right?

I'm still mostly reading Walking the Bible by Bruce Feiler these days.  While I find Reza Aslan's No God But God interesting and informative, it's not a library book so I can take my time in reading it. For some reason I feel more compelled to read the other book mostly and I'm making good progress.  I keep finding words and stories that are either amusing, fascinating, interesting or make me stop and reflect.  (I shared a few of those the other day in my Pyramids post.) The author frequently gives some historical background - ancient and more modern - which I enjoy. He tells of people he meets and cultural experiences.  Definitely my kind of book!  And I love that little bit of humor he puts in there as well.

Like the day he and his archaeologist pal travel across the border from Israel into Jordan. He shares some background stories and then writes,

These days, peace is nominally at hand, and a visitor arriving from Israel is expected to come bearing cigarettes at least. Having made this trip many times, Avner knew the drill and presented our Jordanian guide, Mahmoud, with a red-and-white carton fresh from the duty-free.  "But they're not Marlboro," Mahmoud said.  "They're Gold Coast."  His disappointment at the cheap imitations was palpable, so Avner walked back through the security gate and to the border itself, only to arrive back fifteen minutes later, unsuccessful.  "Oh, well. It's all poisonous just the same," Mahmoud said, and we were on our way.  (pg. 353)

Love that line by Mahmoud there at the end!  

I remember seeing warnings like this in the Istanbul airport shops.

One day while they were climbing the narrow, rock-strewn path up a mountain in the Sinai, they were suddenly "joined by a swarm of hangers-on, a cluster of barefoot, eight-year-old boys who tugged at our shorts and reached into our pockets, parroting, 'Money. Dollars. Pepsi. USA!' We spoke to them, ignored them, sighed at them, turned them down, but still they continued to haggle with us for most of the way to the top.  'Money. One dollar.  Two dollar. Baksheesh!'  Eventually, after half an hour, they changed tactics and elected to hold our hands and sing to us.  'At least we have something to sacrifice when we get to the top,' I said." (pg. 216)

Don't worry kids. I'm sure he was just kidding!

 We stopped for directions. Then stopped again. We stopped a third time, and a fourth. Whoever popularized the theory that men don't ask for directions has never visited the Egyptian Delta. But the directions were often contradictory: left past the third mound of dirt, right at the fork in the canal; left at the tractor, right at the burning manure.  Eventually at a gas station we got directions that sounded right -- "Stay on this road, not left or right " -- if only because they sounded as if they came right out of the Bible. Within seconds, Avner produced a passage, Joshua 1:7, with the same instructions: "Turn not to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go." It's no wonder it took the Israelites forty years to cross the desert; they spent half that time just getting out of town.  (pg. 173)

Good luck getting outta there!


Lat said...

Haha! That Isrealite comment at the end about 40 yrs is funny!! :D

Sounds like an interesting book!

And the cigarette warning sign pales in comparison to what we have here.In addition the packs come with horrible pictures of cancer of lungs,mouth or whatever it affects! And the price is exorbitantly high that smuggling often takes place.

Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed it!

Susanne said...

Lat, wow, that's interesting about the packs of cigarettes in your area! I thought THIS was funny when I saw it because I don't recall the warnings being so big on packages here. Yours sound dreadful, but maybe they are more effective! :)

Thanks for taking time to read and comment on this post. :)