Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Like young men the world over, the adolescent youth here have to prove their virility to each other by making as much noise as possible with a car.

Originally designed as a form of transport, this piece of highly-sophisticated machinery has now become an extension of the macho-man's tool kit. The colour, design and make are all important, but most important seems to be how much noise you can get it to make whilst stationary.

I'd hesitate to assume that they actually drill holes in the exhaust, as many vehicles here are over 30-yrs old and held together with bits of wire and sticky tape, but I was surprised to see some of the more expensive varieties of car here, including a Hummer today, believe it or not. My local volunteer told me that he could go out today and get a car - and I eventually ascertained that he meant he could go out and get a loan to get a it seems there are markets to be opened up everywhere for rapacious money-lenders.

Once the loan is approved (3 second questionnaire 'You live in Palestine and you earn $50,000pa? No problem Sir, sign here') the young man can indulge himself in getting a piece of the action, which he can then proceed to drive up and down the one main street of Nablus, slamming on the brakes from time to time for maximum noise pollution and an excellent smell of brakes and clutch.

This is the tragedy: they want to be like everyone else, but cannot leave this town, so like hamsters in a wheel, they are destined to drive up and down, round and round, criss-crossing this small town of 200,000 people, until they run out of petrol, or tyres, or brake-pads or clutch, or all four.

Well, I suppose it's nice to know that some things never change.

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