Saturday 5 July 2014

A Week in Abu Dis

I’ve been in Abu Dis a week now and am beginning to get a feel of the place. One thing to note is that the current way of doing things isn’t representative of the year round routine because it all changes during Ramadan with people doing things later in the day. Upon my arrival in Abu Dis I was very unsettled and uneasy, it’s nothing like England and so required some adjusting to. On my first day when I travelled to Abu Dis from Jerusalem, it seemed quite for what I initially thought, it took around 40 minutes to get here. On my second night a local friend took me for a walk around Abu Dis in the evening. On that walk he showed me how close Jerusalem actually is to Abu Dis and without the wall it was reachable by car in around 10 minutes. This threw me off, I was shocked and not only is it close, but very few Palestinians get the permits to visit the Al Aqsa mosque. They can see it but not actually go there which must be difficult for the Muslim majority of Palestinians. Coming from the UK and being Muslim I understand the religious significance of visiting Al Aqsa yet the locals are unable to do so despite being around the corner from it. This is only a small example of the problems caused by the wall and the occupation. Yet these people remain strong, they accept it as it is and continue to live their lives.
The people of Abu Dis are amongst the kindest most generous people I have met. They greet you with a smile and are very hospitable, they never make you feel like an outsider. On my second day here, we had iftar at a lady’s house that the rest of the group were familiar with. She made sure we all ate and were full before we left. Another time I was alone in the flat on an evening and a friend from Abu Dis brought round some food his mother had made and had iftar with me. There’s real sense of community in Abu Dis and respect among all the locals. It’s quite a homely place.
The town itself isn’t that big but is connected to Izaria which is another small town with a few more shops and cafes. The view from our balcony and roof is eye catching. Admittedly there is a lot of rubbish laying around but the overall look of the place is quite attractive. During the day you can only barely see into the distance and faintly make out the shape of hills. At night it is much clearer and all the towns have many of their lights on, so when the humidity clears you can see clusters of lights beyond the hills and valleys.
We've walked through the university campus and it is quite impressive. I haven't been in any rooms yet but I like the overall buildings and gardens. At some stage it feels like walking through a park back home with benches in the shade of the trees. It was only a walk through to get to the museum but I would love to explore the campus itself more.

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