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Monday, 24 September 2007

Ahmed Namazi & Me - Page 4

Written by Steve Bramucci
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Ahmed Namazi. That's the name that nearly ended my first trip to Israel before it could get off the ground.  Ahmed—“Excuse me sir, please come this way, yes right over here, and please take of your sandals…”—Namazi.

 

As a dog paced circles around me.  After answering the same questions at least five times, to a different inquisitor every time, I was finally allowed to head to the gate.  The flip-flops came back.  The carry-on didn't.  "You can pick it up at the gate," I was told politely "we'll take it from here."

As you might imagine, I was feeling a little edgy and when the security agent at the gate asked for my flip-flops again for scanning the sentiment had grown.  By the time my carry-on was reluctantly returned to me (after the entire plane had boarded) I was actually starting to wonder if maybe I was a security threat.

Finally, after two hours of questioning, screening and detecting, I boarded the plane.  My adrenaline was racing as I sat down in seat 32a. Where exactly was it I was heading?  I have reported from war-zones in Uganda, lived with Komodo Dragons on the island of Rinca, and stalked crocodiles with an aboriginal family in Australia—and this was shaking me up?  Had I not done my research? Was this trip a bad idea?

israel and west bankMental order wasn’t restored until I noticed that I was surrounded on all sides by men and women from a retirement community in Thousand Oaks on their way to the holy city.  Eventually, reasoning kicked in: if the woman next to me, who spent the better part of the 14-hour flight trying to get her tray table set 'just so', was heading to Israel—I was sure I would get along okay.

 

 

israel and west bankAnd I did.  I traveled through Israel and Palestine and always felt safe and welcome.  And of course the airport guys were just doing their jobs (well) by revoking my sandals.  But when I entered Ben Gurion International Airport two weeks later, ready to return to the states, I took a second to stroll through Duty Free and purchase a certain item which I felt I could put to use.  A wallet. And Ahmed Namazi’s business card was the first item transferred into it.

© Steve Bramucci

(Page 4 of 4)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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