The Two Sides of Qalandia Checkpoint Part 14: Time

Close to a year ago, I attended this Right to Education workshop, and one of the members mentioned that according to her and someone else’s calculations, students waste around a month per year on Qalandia checkpoint.

From the moment I or anyone else with a green identity card from the West Bank of what is known as the occupied Palestinian Territories reach Qalandia checkpoint, we think ‘time.’

The visas or permits given to us to cross provide the time we are allowed to enter and the time we have to be back to “our” side. There’s a date from when the piece of paper is issued and a date when the piece of paper is no longer of use…the day you should not exist on the other side of Qalandia checkpoint, the side that leads to Beit Hanina, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv…

We look at our phones and watches around our wrists to check the time we’ve been standing so the next time around we calculate the journey’s time accurately. We check the time so we can let others know how long the crossing takes and to warn them to “come earlier” than we had.

We wait, and time ticks by. We can’t sit and read or scroll through the Internet while we wait. I can’t upload these posts while I wait. Time in a birdcage is draining. You want to get out of there. No fights, no random “go to the other lane” after you’ve been waiting in this particular one for close to an hour. No sweat. No pushing or shoving or yelling. Just with some harmony.

You can hear the little children ask their parents how long it will take. My friends and I wonder if we’d make it to the internship by 9:00. Others want to go make their prayers. Others complain to the rest of us and try to plead with the soldiers standing that they have a doctor’s appointment they can’t miss.

About a month ago, I was asked how many parts I thought this segment of my blog was going to be. The segment will always be here, but for now, it’s a wrap as I won’t be going through the checkpoint until the next time I recieve a visa for entry.

On Qalandia, we are bound by a struggle, yes, but we are also bound by time…the minutes that tick by, the calculations we make, the warnings we give to others to “come earlier” next time, the Thursdays we dread since that is the busiest day of the week…

Time passes by and the blot of gray known as Qalandia checkpoint restricts, separates, and stands.


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