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Published: July 21st 2009
The migration- towards the Kunafa
Yesterday was MADNESS. Literally, the most dangerous event that has occurred to me thus far in Palestine. And it had nothing to do with anything political, economic… not about human rights or civil society.
It had to do with Dessert.
Nablus is famous for its Kunafa, a ridiculously rich dish that, as my roommate and I have determined, is both sweet and savoury; insanely delicious but also kind of disgusting. It is vermicelli, with goat cheese, with sugar sauce; and I wouldn’t doubt if they slip some crack into these addictive bad boys.
In any case, I have heard faint buzzing over the past couple weeks that Nablus, in its Shopping Festival, was vying to make the Guinness record-breaking kunafa in the city. And I’m thinking: who tried to break this record before? All of us are getting our hopes up for what might be a relatively normal-sized round pan.
It was 72 meters long.
I show up, thinking that I might have the inside scoop, because I work with the Community Service Center, which recruited 100+ volunteers to control the crowd and make sure that everything was done in an orderly fashion. While the CSC vests
The Eye of the Storm
Literally. Sheer Chaos.
were a virtual VIP pass, there was no way anything was getting done in an orderly fashion. 100,000 people apparently descended upon Nablus; the majority of these started pushing, punching, elbowing , all to get close to the sweets. They were jumping the fence, undercutting people in front of them, hitting below the belt.
I somehow miraculously met up with Thayer, who works with the CSC, before they opened the floodgates to the pans. He, again miraculously, got me to the front in a relatively easy way, despite the fact that I was immediately separated from my friends.
So I’m at the front, literally in the mouth of the chaos; the eye of the storm. But Thayer finds me little niches of calm, and then holds back the crowd:
“GUYS, BACK! There’s a girl here! BACK, I say!”
So I’m in my little nooks, relatively un-jostled, while, for example, I see a policeman get pushed into the Kunafa, and the table gets knocked down.
I grab a couple kunafa for my separated compatriots, who were most certainly not getting to the front, and found myself five minutes later, with Thayer outside of the crowd, dazed,
sweaty, and covered in vermicelli.
The CSC volunteers. I have such infinite respect and pity for them. Despite their numbers, they were simply no match for the invading horde, whose numbers significantly exceeded even the wildest expectations. They did, however, manage to keep the stage area relatively calm, the people out of the mall (with high rise views of the battlegrounds), and managed to limit the overall pandemonium. Not only that, but they did an excellent job of protecting me from the groups of men covering every inch of downtown. I felt guilty- the five very able bodied guys cocooning me and acting as my ‘bodyguards’ (as they were joking) could have surely spent their energies on someone much more important. Although I was elated:
*Guard mercilessly not letting anyone through, blocking our way*
Thayer: “Arabicarabicarabic Community Service Arabicarabic”
“Ok Stacey Taali taali, come come.”
They got me in all the no-access places, found me the best spots to view the center, and then finally helped me meet up with my friends (an insane task, as the multitude of ‘WHERE ARE YOU?!’ calls was overloading the cell reception. ) I was infinitely
And the Table Falls
This is literally in a minute- the table is knocked to the ground, and half the Kunafa is gone
grateful, there was NO way I would have had the experience I did without the CSC’s help. The atmosphere was such that I would have been crushed by the masses, lost, or just left sweaty and trapped somewhere. Instead, I even ended up on TV.
I am still horrified to find this out, as pretty much the only foreigner to get any of the kunafa. Not only that, but I was one of the first people to partake in it. Yes, that’s right: I was shown on TV, as the only international burly enough to fight off the bedlam of hungry Palestinian men, stuffing my purse full of sweets.
But it was a great, amazing, albeit ridiculous, Ridiculous, day.
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