by: Sam Kestenbaum on March 24th, 2012 | 8 Comments »
In America, they called him Mike. He lived in midtown Manhattan. He used to have a long ponytail, he tells me, a neatly shaven beard and he dressed fashionably.
Here in Palestine, they call him Hisham.
He wears a neat black coat and thin wire-rim glasses. Hisham is in his fifties now and has wispy gray hair. He was born and raised in Ramallah, he tells me, but moved to America in his twenties.
I meet Hisham at the local coffee shop. It’s a crowded popular spot in the center of Ramallah. The ceilings are high and the air is thick with smoke.
The seasons are in transition. The spring is coming, but some days are still freezing. Sheets of icy, cold rain fall outside, flooding the streets. The old men who frequent the shop wear heavy coats and scarves wrapped around their heads. The low bubbling sound of the water pipe fills the room.
Hisham speaks English with an American accent and swears every other word. He misses America, he tells me. “Probably meeting me in this cafe,” he waves his hand around the room, “you wouldn’t think that I lived in America. I probably look really Palestinian, like I’ve never left this place. But I loved that country,” he says.