The Two Sides of Qalandia Checkpoint Part 1: Bus Rides and A Holy Month

If one was to wake up at 6:00 A.M., get ready and out of the house by 6:50 into the bus in Ramallah by 7:00 and to the checkpoint and out of it by 7:35, you’ll most likely reach Jerusalem 8:!2 A.M. – give or take. That’s what the journey has been looking like for me, except the friends I go with to this nutrition practicum have to wake up much more earlier.

The way back is a lot simpler. You just get in the bus and it takes you all the way back. No stopping except for the other day.

Thursday was the start of the holy month of Ramadan, a month of prayer, fasting, strenghtening faith with God and becoming a better person. The gates of hell are closed and those of heaven are open. However, the angry demon inside us all does tend to creep up every now and then, as it did with the bus driver.

The bus driver, like most bus drivers I have encountered, was a frowning man with squared dark sunglasses that only he can see past. He appeared to be – and I’ll put it bluntly – pissed off before we left the bus parking lot, and the proved to be true when we crossed Qalandia checkpoint to go back home.

My friends and I were sitting in the very back row when we heard some sort of argument going on between the bus driver and one of the passengers. The bus driver stopped the bus in the middle of the street and continued to argue. He began to yell, “Get out of the bus” to the passenger, however, the man refused. The bus driver got out of the car and ran to an Israeli police car that didn’t care, waving him off like he was a crazy man.

Everyone on the bus became furious at this sight.
“What the hell does he think he’s doing?”
“Is he serious?”
“Just come back. We need to leave!”

The bus driver, then, took it upon himself to leave the bus in the middle of the street and leave us in it. “I’m not coming back! I’m not taking you anywhere!” He was yelling as he became invisible through the crowd that walked to the Qalandia checkpoint.

The passengers watched in awe and commented on the scene until another frowning but young driver came and got the traffic going.

Ramadan is supposed to be a month that also teaches us how to be patient, but we are all definitely human and sometimes, anger gets the better of us.

May all those that celebrate have a blessed Ramadan.

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