The Language of Travel

Friday night, while waiting for the flight from Dubai to Chennai, I watched what appeared to be soap operas on Arabic television. Given I know nothing of Arabic languages, I had to interpret what I saw at face value. The plots were rich and diverse, the depicted social environment, complex.

One character was particularly engaging. A man e-mailed friends, and appeared to write on a blog, during the American attack on Bagdad. We see the invasion through his eyes, and through the eyes of his friends. We, the viewers experienced, second hand, the real, human, impacts of collateral damage. Somehow, the pain and suffering of the people of Bagdad were shared, across language barriers.

Fourteen hours earlier, on Thursday night New York time, I had enjoyed a brief conversation with three Afghanis, who were on their way back to Afghanistan, where they work for the U.S. government.  I had listened as they had very public phone conversations with family and friends, reminding them that their work was dangerous and they could not promise to return safely to the U.S.. Rather than discussing politics or the dangers of their work, w spoke about the beauty of their language. When they spoke in Afghani, their language was melodic, often lilting, and very pleasing to the ear.

Now I am surrounded by Tamal, beautiful in its own right.

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