Friday, October 31, 2008

Lounging with Delegates

New York City is like a giant sleeping dragon puffing out white smoke through hundreds of nostrils in the cold October air. With concrete scales and steel horns. Every day I travel in its veins squeezed together with thousands and thousands of others who have grown used to its smells and its quirks.

Or something.

Today I bought a free newspaper for five dollars. He said he was homeless, and I thought that it would be a good thing to support a homeless newspaper project in this city where people still sleep in cardboard shacks under bridges even though Mayor Bloomberg has done away with most of them. Cardboard shacks, that is. I'm sure the homeless are still around, and probably in greater numbers since the economic turbulence started shaking people out from their homes onto the streets lately.

But when I got the newspaper in my hands, I saw that it was one of the free newspapers that you can pick up everywhere on the streets. I smiled. A man next to me smiled too. A woman opposite me got up as she was getting of and said,

"You just bought a free newspaper."

I said, "Yeah, I know. But that's okay."

Because it really is. It's his karma. I acted in good faith. I even gave him five dollars for something he said cost 2 dollars. But things like this matter little when you're in a place where you've decided that you're really quite content with your life, in spite of the fact that it's not at all what you planned for it to be. But when things happen they probably happen for a good reason. (Well, I don't know about the good reason thing, but at least life is ever so much more interesting than what it had been had we had complete control over everyting that happens--a black homeless guy would never sell you a free newspaper for five bucks if life always turned out the way you had planned).

This Tuesday I met with Ammar Hijazi. The First Secretary of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations at the Delegates' Lounge down on the second floor.

See, I can't really go to the Delegates' Lounge. Mainly because I'm not a delegate. And also because my UN pass has a big brown A on it, which means that my security clearance is restricted. I can only go in through the north entrance, for instance (but I can exit at the south entrance), and I can normally not visit the second, third or fourth floors. This is where the Security Council, General Assembly, and ECOSOC chambers are. And the Delegates' Lounge.

But I became friends with the guard outside the Lounge. He wouldn't let me in first, which was okay because I was early. But then we started talking, and it turns out his sister wants to come to New York for an internship, so I gave him some tips and told him what I thought of the whole internship program. He was nice. From Serbia. And before I knew it, he said that I could go inside and see if Ammar Hijazi was there.

The only problem was that I've never met Ammar Hijazi before. But somehow we found each other, and I got my interview for my thesis. Good, good stuff. And it didn't take long before we became friends, too, and we will have lunch sometime next week.

"I knew right away that I would like you," he said when we walked away from the Delegates' Lounge towards the conference rooms on the bottom floor. (His liking me right away might have something to do with my attempts at speaking Arabic with a Palestinian dialect in the beginning of the interview, but I choose to believe it was because I'm such a likeable person). And then he asked me to be sure to send my course paper on Israel, Apartheid and the UN, and not to forget to set aside one day next week for lunch with him.

For sure.

I also got an interview with Nikolai Galkin at the Secretariat Branch of the Security Council. Very useful information on how items end up on the Security Council agenda; who puts them there, and how things are decided upon. Being here, talking to people and seeing how things work, has changed my entire take on the research project I am to write when I come back to Sweden (on the role of the UN in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). The general arguments stay the same, but they've become greatly nuanced and expanded upon since I came here.

This insight makes me look at this whole New York internship trip in a different light. I might not have found the place where I will settle down and start my life after I graduate, and in fact I might be more confused about where I want to go than was before I came. But at the same time, I see things, I meet people, and I have experiences that all feed into the great database inside me where the map of my next journey is starting to take form.

I wonder where I'll go.


Married to a Muslim said...

wonder where ull go?? KOM HEM! :) Love u!

Ruby said...

i AM. love u too!