Flights of Faith

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Ramla Episodes: A Case of Mistaken Identity

Never say yes to one question as screaming Ethiopian children are asking a million more.

Entering the school, I was surprised to hear the same nonsensical lyrics that America made a #1 hit: Hips Don’t Lie.

A note to Shakira: Asking for your name, saying pretty, then asking whether to go to his place or yours should make you go mad in only one way. Clean it up, chica.

Watching six year olds trying to dance to the yodeling wasn’t a pretty sight, but I didn’t have to worry about that for long. As if the theme for ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ cued up with my every step, the kids looked at me towering over them and were completely silent. Now, I’ve had people confuse me for an Ethiopian, including Ethiopians themselves, but this time everyone seemed to sense I was an outsider. Shakira sill professing her hips don’t break at least one commandment, I began looking for someone in charge while being approached by the children. Saved by a man named Yacov, I was whisked away into a private classroom. As the song changed to Sean Paul’s Temperature, the kids went back to dancing.

After choosing a classroom for me and giving me minimal instructions in English, I found myself in a room with about 18 kids: 12 Ethiopians and 6 Euro/Sephardic.

Instead of first asking my name, I was presented with this shocker.

“Do you know 50 Cent? Candyshooop?”

The list of artists continued. Each one louder than the last. Repeatedly saying yes, I was growing tired of the monotony until Moshe, the resident troublemaker, started screaming and running out of the classroom.

Must have had to go to the bathroom, I thought.

Or he just asked me if I was 50 Cent’s cousin, heard me say yes, and is telling the whole school that I am Joshua Cent.


Although I was already fielding autograph requests before, I was mobbed after Moshe’s outburst. Soon, kids from other classrooms burst into the room screaming 50 Cent and a number of his hits. I just kept signing away not knowing any of the Hebrew they were saying. The 50 Cent tattoo requests didn’t phase me and I obliged knowing this would pass. Right?

The celebrity status continued until we switched classrooms about an hour later. Seeing the Ethiopian version of Tatyana Ali and becoming immediately smitten, I tried to exchange pleasantries in my broken Hebrew. She quickly interrupted me in English.

“Are you really the cousin of 50 Cent?” A curious smile curled upwards as she moved closer to me.
Reacting out of shock and forgetting the allure of quasi-celebrity, I let out a surprised denial.
The smile turned into a full laugh pulling her away from me. “Oh, that’s what the kids are saying.” Looking at the kids, she began to walk towards them.
“Oh. Oops.” My sheepish grin appeared.
She looked back at me, smiled once more, then started giving instructions in Hebrew to the kids.

Wishing I knew Hebrew, I opened my dictionary and looked up the phrases for what’s your name, pretty, and my house, your house. Hey, if it worked for Wyclef…


Blogger ma-keu said...

oh hell no!

you best not be making fun of ma girl. yes, shakira has joined hilary, alexis, toni, zora, and others in those ranks.

Hips Don't Lie is THE song of thos summer! someone who likes SexyBack's opinion matters

p.s. i need to hear this allegedly good version.

p.p.s. i just managed to lock myself in a bathroom with a broken doorknob and slice open my middle finger in the process of getting out

p.p.s. at least we can agree on nelly. dear nelly.

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