The Many Voices of Nablus

The voices of Nablus are both singular and ordinary for a bustling city. One can expect to hear the blare of a voice over a loudspeaker, the beep of a car horn, the calls of the market vendors in the Old City. But the voices of Khalet al-Amoud, the neighborhood which the lovely TYO center inhabits, can be nothing short of strange at times. I thought I had heard it all after living in Cairo, the noise pollution capital of the world, yet the sounds of this city are perhaps even more peculiar.

The other night, after a grueling day of lesson planning and classroom decorating, I was awoken at 2am by a rooster who seemed to have lost track of time. A couple hours later, a disgruntled sheep followed suit, “baaing” for half an hour. This only further encouraged our friend the rooster. At five in the morning, I lay in bed wondering if I was downtown Nablus or having some kind of rustic hallucination.

Another favorite of the neighborhood soundtrack is the small candy cane truck which makes its way down our streets every afternoon, the tinkling tune of “It’s a Small World” following in its wake. I considered the song simultaneously endearing and infuriating until I saw a tiny 3 year old clutching a gigantic cone of cotton candy the other day. Eternal redemption for the song now, of course.

And then there’s the laughter, the beating heart and soul of TYO. The beauty of living in a center which is filled with children everyday are the joyous sounds of laughter resonating through every room. As we new interns discovered last week, all you have to do is pop downstairs every morning at nine to get your daily dose of “joy” – a catchphrase which now seems to have been copyrighted by the sixth floor (“The joy! Oh the joy!”). Or every afternoon, one only has to lean over the balcony to see volunteers and students alike laughing at a football kick gone awry. This sound of laughter is the rejuvenating element to each of our days.

On a personal note, however, by far an away my favorite time of day in Nablus has come to be sunset. Everyday, around 7:30pm, the call to prayer comes on over the loudspeakers, echoing its sonorous call throughout the entire valley. The deep, enthralling invocations are a peaceful reminder of the passage of the day as the hills slowly darken and the lights twinkle on. A wonderful end to a hectic day of sounds. Until the rooster wakes up again…

- Alex

Alex is a summer intern at TYO Nablus.