29.Jordanian Women and Lina
Tuckeh, Tuckeh screams the enormous gecko. I cannot see it but I know it must be huge by the sound I hear. I still remember the first time I heard them sing. At that time I was in a little village in the middle of nowhere. I was curiously listening to that weird noise, trying to communicate with the Thai little girl in my house. She kept saying it was a Tuckeh and I kept imagining a Tuckeh to be a bird. When she finally took me by the hand to show me a huge looking- like- iguana gecko I was shocked. At the time I pondered for the first time how it was that legends came about.
It happen again in Kashmir when I in the middle of the track heard from inside my tent the strange noises of birds and sheep who seemed to be fantasy creatures. I had never imagined those sounds featured in nature. People from the city are like that… We find sirens, horns, and huge agglomerations natural and are totally shocked by the real sounds of animals. The Gecko sings, the mosquitoes bite over whatever it is that I am wearing, the Thai drink and talk behind me. I probably should go to bed.
I was in a mellow mood a couple days ago. Too many goodbyes. It should not be surprising to one that has decided to travel, then to temporarily work and live in a guesthouse… But today mellowness has left, probably temporarily, but it is now gone. Today I am greeted by the sun bathing parts of the garden, parts of the Mekong. The wind is chilly on my face. Prokofiev plays. Unknown faces have their breakfast. Soon the usual Mut Mee crowd will be here. Soon Nong Khai victims will appear and tell stories, and we will laugh about something geeky. I should write about them sometime.
I left the Gaia, bar boat that floats on the Mekong, earlier then usual last night. I was fascinated by Lina the 25 year old chinese girl who was there drinking beer but too tired to stay longer.
Lina can speak little english. She laughs a lot, but in a discrete small way that makes her look like a doll. Every word in English is difficult for her but I am too curious as it is not so common to see a chinese single traveler. No one knows she is here. Not her family, not her friends.
” Luckily my parents are concerned about my sister”
A sister? I am puzzled. How about the one child policy. ” oh i come from the village not the city”
I wonder how many people actually live in China. I wonder how is life there.
“I am old for China. 25 I should be married and have a baby. But I don’t want to marry and I don’t like babies” and she laughs a bit more.
She apologises for her poor english. She works as a make up artist for weddings. I am impressed at how much we can tell each other with so little language.
As this lovely girl laughs half drunk half confused with a foreign language I keep wondering what makes her cross to vietnam, cambodia, thailand, laos in secret. What does she think and feel as she is going around alone barely speaking to anyone.
San, who Roxana calls the toothless homeless Thai guy is also there. I never understand him to well. He is always so friendly. He seems to be in love. Claire, the sweetest Irish girl I have ever met, watches with me their conversation. it seems incredible that Lina and San can actually communicate. Lina does not speak english that well, and san neither. But somehow they do.
As I seat alone writing these words I wonder why is it that I cross these borders? What is it that we search? I am still not entirely certain of what it is but encountering the young chinese girl makes me realise that this search is quite universal. Whenever people tell you we are so different we should be suspicious.
These days Julian gave me a book to read. The book was the true story of a Jordanian catholic woman. I started reading the book and as i turned the pages I kept thinking ” this is impossible!” the way she described jordanians was so surreal. As if men in jordan were completely inhuman. I kept telling Julian that that could not be true. it seemed like the perfect book to legitimise an occupation in any muslim country. He begged me to read on. So i did it.
It was story of two friends. A muslim girl and a catholic one who had to manipulate all men in their lives to be able to get what they wanted. Simple pleasures. In the end of the book her friend gets killed in an honour killing. The author runs away promising to avenge the death of her best friend. In the end of the book there was even addresses to whom you could write to help. The book disturbed me a lot. How could that possibly be that they were soooo different. As I finished it, Julian encouraged me to google the author. It turned out it was a hoax. She had been born in Jordan but grew up in the U.S. that story which she sold as real had never happened.
I could not believe it. or better i could. I was so shocked how even I who have Palestinian and Jordanian friends was by the end of the book questioning whether this lady was right. Whether all the niceness i had experienced. All the similarity was a product of my own mind. After all she was born and raised there. So when i found it was a fake I was both relieved and furious. That was such a criminal book. One that sells the idea that people can be completely different… To the point they seem inhuman.
So as I watch Lina and San engage in what is quite universal …a man flirting with a girl. As i ponder why she crosses borders I know this is quite universal. In all societies there are those who want to see the other side of the border. In all societies there are those who know that in the other side lies difference, but also enormous similarity. We might not know what we are looking for but in this journey we encounter each other. People who come from different culture systems, philosophies, languages, customs, practices, beliefs etc and when we meet we realise that books that preach sooo much difference cant be that real.