Abu Shreek's 4-year collegiate experience was so uneventful and so unproductive. His main activities were endless daily marathons of Trix and Tarneeb (cards), constant complaining and expressing of disgust, and wasted days around the Square (early in his career), Cafeteria il Handaseh (copying homework and lab reports), and (Koshk il Handaseh, bi idarett Nader Jdoo3: the engineering mini-mart under the management of Nader).
Abu Shreek convinced himself that by participating in every student demonstration, rally and protest, he is fulfilling his duties as a “college student”, and sometimes he actually thought he may be making a difference. Some of these events were more memorable than others:
The “Quds” Support Rally.
As most of the student “gatherings” to follow, this one was organized by the “Shyookh” (On- campus Islamic Party members; most of them are below-average academically, and they look much older than their fellow students (maybe it is the beard, maybe it is the late graduation), and in spite of the differences in ideology and agendas,in general they were very nice and "good peoples" .
As we marched towards Borj il Sa3a (the sight of the event), amazed by-standers observed curiosly from the square. The crowd’s count was respectable, thanks to the large number of sisters marching behind a much smaller number of male participants. In later years I learned that this phenomenon is referred to as “Sila7 il Mo7ajjabatt” or “the egg trays”.(With all due respect to the courageous sisters, the visual simile is very funny).
The event featured a number of speakers, until it got disturbed by a student who started reciting a verse of the poem “Al Quds 3aroos 3orabatikom”, opening with (abna2 al ka7bati la astathni minkom a7adan: Oh, you all sons of bitches with no exceptions (loose translation)). The event had to be stopped to explain to the disgruntled and ignorant crowd, who wrote the poem and to whom its harsh word were directed.
Abu Shreek retrieved back to his headquarters under the tee in the square,secretly wondering what would have happened if the speaker kept reciting till he reached the Syphilis part.
This one was scheduled to leave campus (a big No-No) and head towards the close by “Ministry of Higher Education”. This was easily the biggest demonstration in terms of Security and anti-riot police outside of the locked main gate. Riot vans extended across the length of (share3 il jam3ah). The in-position, ready for combat riot police outnumbered the students by a ratio of 4 to 1. Water hoses and attack dogs with their handlers were positioned right outside of the gate. A fantabulous scene. As usual we settled for staying inside and after the whole situations were diffused Abu Shreek caught a scandalously-veiled girl talking to a journalist. (The scandalously-veiled girl: usually wearing a ton of make up, usually her name is (Mairvatt), and she is often covering her head but showing just enough cleavage). Abu Shreek was very annoyed to hear her jeopardize the students’ efforts by claiming that she does not care for the “
“The Computer fees tuition hike”
The school implemented a JD20 increase in tuition as “computer fees” to start “the thousand computers project”. Nothing seemed wrong with the idea, but the fear was that once a series of tuition hikes begins, it will not be stopped, until the whole concept of “free education” is destroyed. One can understand how justified the objection to the new fee was, when you realize how the wealthy elite managed to sneak their kids into governmental universities, depriving poorer, yet more deserving, students from these seats. In addition to the injustice, the overall quality of education at those once-respectable schools is being compromised.
Anyway, we tried to break the locked front gates, but we were met with water cannons (very nice, I did not even know we had those), and out-numbering ganawee (crowd control devices). We backed off, and the situation was diffused by (Al Nae2bb Ma7mood Al Kharabsheh : Senator Gratified Doodles) a former internal intelligence officer!!
Abu Shreek took off his (highly invested in) sweatshirt and jumped to confront the water cannon and pushed against the gates. He never washed his pink-stained white T-shirt. it turned out that they use pink water to mark demonstrators, so that they can "collect" them later
The Second Intifada Series
As the second intifada erupted in
Still the whole experience had some bright spots. The whole attitude was different and unique. A different collection of songs and yells. It was the first “mixed” rally, where we walked side-by-side to our (Rafeeqat; female comrades), all six of them. When we reached a key intersection we refused to be re-routed and kept yelling (3al safara 3al safara bidna ni7rig il safara: we are heading to the Israeli embassy to burn it down). When the riot police blocked our route toward (il safara) we lined up across the street and sat down, blocking traffic in one of the city's busiest streets. We barely formed two lines but we managed to cause a traffic jam.
The officer in charge ran out of patience within 30 minutes and ordered a limited “run”. Within 5 seconds we were running in 15 different directions, knocking down side-mirrors by the dozens. (When you are being chased, you really cannot afford to maneuver around cars, you run straight). When we regrouped the march leftovers we were 7-10 guys left.
Abu Shreek lead the remaining “crowd” in a free-styling, zaffeh-like song that featured improvised versus making fun of the riot police in a sarcastic, mildly confrontational way.
Abu Shreek felt stupid, hopeless and juvenile.