I was talking to my mom on the phone as I do every Sunday then my nephew took the phone and wanted to tell me about summer school and miss Dalal. Apparently he does not like her because she looks nothing like his mom which I can completely relate to. I can see the distress there. Then he went on like he does with his little stories that make no sense except in his little world. I listen and all I can think of is when did he start talking? Every other sentence he asks me where I am anyway and why I don’t come over to continue the conversation. He hates phones as much as I do. He suddenly decides to hang up. I tried to call again but the lines were terrible. Finally I got through.
And in Arabic
- hello, who is it?
- Khaled is that you?
- No, it is me
- who, where is mom?
- who did you call?
- Is this the .. residence?
- No it is not… wait where do you call from?
(I’m thinking what do you care where I call from)
- Amerca, leish?
- This is so funny, I was trying to call Beirut too, see I’m in the US too..
(I’m thinking he must be new here)
- oh you are.. haha.. ok then.. (trying to save my minutes for mom)
- yes I am in jersey so where are you?
- here in nyc
- Oh and how long have you been here?
Then a third voice appears on the line… a woman
the man and I just burst into laughter
- hi.. wait is this the person you’re calling in Beirut?
- no.. hello who is this?
The woman goes
- yes hi.. hi.. is this New tv?
- What? Are you serious?
At this point we both lost it. The poor woman waits for an answer and we are dying of laughter.
He tells her
- why are you calling NTV on Sunday?
And I go
- is NTV still open anyway?
Her, still convinced that we're from NTV
- Can i get through?
We messed around with the NTV story for a while then she noticed some English here and there and she figured it out. It turns out she lives in Connecticut. I still don’t know why on earth she was calling NTV. We all talked for a while and now I know a guy in Jersey and a woman in Connecticut. After all this time it still just takes for the person to be Lebanese to become my immediate friend.
Do you remember the phone games we used to play as kids? When we’re old enough to have a phone in our room.. My sister would come in at night and we would just call random numbers and say the same old jokes.. Like your fridge is running? Well go follow it.. On the other end, an old lady would pick up.
- What my fridge? What’s wrong with it? Does my husband want to fix it? Who is this?
The poor old lady’s confusion would make it even the more enjoyable to us.
For minutes there, getting that lady who terribly wants to talk to NTV was exceptionally funny for us. I guess that man from Jersey played the same games with his siblings when they were kids. At times in Beirut when entertainment for kids was limited. When we spent most of our time indoors. We would feel we had all of the Lebanon that we can't see right there on the other end the phone line. The man said that this was a very pleasant Lebanese reunion. I guess in Lebanon or abroad, the surviving Lebanese spirit and sense of humour will always wrap us with all the Lebanon we need and miss.