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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Teaser: 4m Gaza 2 the US & back

Teaser: 4m Gaza 2 the US & back

Gaza, January 2, Happy new year peeps everywhere. I will write something about the new year soon, I promise. Let me also apologize for abandoning my blog for this long but I had an intense couple of months. I am a person of details, I like to observe and notice the littlest things so I took my time to absorb everything I saw and process it rather than writing about it immediately.

2012 was about to be the best year in my life, but my grandmother’s death affected that. Yet, I can’t deny that it was one of the best. I started it by making a dream come true and work at Doctors without Borders – France, and ended it by making another dream come true by visiting New York, the city of my dreams.

Ofcourse, and as I mentioned before and about to mention briefly now, as a Palestinian you will be exposed to all kinds of interrogations and obstacles whether on Rafah border, at Cairo airport and at JFK airport. But I was determined to make it happen and god stood by my side and all the prayers that everyone was generous enough to send my way actually worked and I found myself at the exit door of JFK airport in Queens, NYC.

Its weird how familiar and easy I felt as soon as I step foot in New York. I felt like I know it by heart. Its like my system immediately upgraded to “NYC MODE”. I don’t know if the fact that we are all under the same sky wherever we are helped, or simply because I knew New York before I visited it made things seem so familiar.

During my UN media training in New York, we worked hard and whatever time we had left we decided to explore the big apple. I rarely had time to write and even when I did, I couldn’t, because I wasn’t in a place where I processed things like they should be processed and talked about. So I decided to wait till I come back.

My trip wasn’t normal at all. The night that I arrived to New York, we went directly to Time Square and witnessed the results of the American Elections being announced live there. Obama won, I had mixed feelings. We visited places that not many people get to visit like: The White House, The Congress, U.S. Department of State, numerous organizations of all kinds and many historical places.

Israel’s second war on Gaza broke while I was in Washington and this changed everything. I didn’t sleep for days and was always in direct contact with family and friends in Gaza. I participated in protests against the Israeli aggression on Gaza and was featured on many media venues to talk about it and about being in America while my family are under danger in Gaza.

We had the honor of experience firsthand the “International Day of Solidarity with Palestine” and be an insider, this day also happened to be the day of Palestine’s UN recognition, whatever that means or makes you feel. We were inside the General Assembly. We met world leaders, President Abbas and his gang, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and many other personalities that day. This alone, was a historical day that marked our trip.

I did my best to explore New York as much as I can. I walked like I never walked before in my life. I tried to live every experience possible. I was very lucky and smart in getting cabs and figuring out which ones are available and which ones are not. I tried different cuisines from around the world and managed to see many of NYC’s landmarks.

Ofcourse, my average intelligence will make me split my American experience into two or three blog posts instead of one huge boring post. So consider this as a teaser ;)

I still owe you, my dear readers, new blog posts about: New Year of 2013 and the highlights of 2012 and the parts of my American experience so hold this against me if I didn’t write them.

I hope you all had a splendid New Year’s eve and may we all have a great year and become better persons. Make sure you take time to think about others this year as you think about yourself.

I will leave you with this weird sensation that I felt on a cold but sunny day in New York. It was a Saturday, one of the rare weekends that we get to be free all day. I cleaned, did the laundry and despite my sickness I decided to leave my apartment (in the heart of Manhattan’s upper east side, NYC) and explore my outstanding block.

I left the building. I started walking aimlessly around my block. I walked and walked and walked. It was cold yet the sun was warming me up and making me smile. I lost track of time and directions. I didn’t care. I walked without a certain address, without fear, without any care for time or any worries. I was alone and lost in the streets of New York and suddenly I was overwhelmed by a shower of weird tickling sensation. My mind was screaming: “OMG, I FEEL FREE”. I paused. I had my headphones on listening to music, but occasionally I would take them off to listen to the surroundings.

I stopped in the middle of the street, and wondered, is this what freedom feels like?
I was puzzled. Freedom is a broad conception and be interpreted in a million way. I know that there is a definition for the word “Freedom” but I believe that in reality you can’t define freedom because everyone has his own take at explaining it.

I was gifted a book called “The Stranger”, written by Albert Camus, originally in French and known as “L’etanger” but then got translated by many. The version that I read was translated by Mathew Ward. I will need a whole blog post to share my input and review of the book but there was a sentence that took me aback because I felt that exact feeling. The writer captures a certain moment when the main Character “Meursault”, thinks about Freedom and remembers feeling it when he was alone wandering around in strange streets and wonders if that is “Freedom”.

I never thought that freedom can hold such simple meanings and can be felt at such eccentric little moments. I think this is one of our main problems in life, we always tend to rush so we can keep up with the bigger picture while we ignore the little details that might turn out to be keys that unlock many mysterious questions.
How do you define freedom? And Have you ever felt “Free” in awkward little moments and felt taken aback by it?

Best wishes,
Omar from Gaza


  1. I was gifted a friend called “Omar Ghrieb"

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