Few things in this world carry the true essence of purity and innocence. The laughs of a child as they gaze into their mother's eyes, an untouched river flowing free through stretches of forests, an old couple holding hands while sitting on a bench in the park. The list goes on, but perhaps the one that undeniably stuns happens to come in the form of white frozen flakes floating down from the heavens.
I never experienced snow. Shocking, right? The guy from the sandy deserts has never seen snow. I know, I know. As I'm sure almost everyone knows, the Middle East rarely experiences snow. The temperatures and various kinds of topography don’t really help snow to fall there, let alone accumulate. Of course, every now and then, it snows and people get to experience a winter wonderland for a few days (sometimes a few hours, but hey!). This is more common in the more northern countries, like Syria and Lebanon. However, in Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and so on, the closest thing we have is hail. Unfortunately, hail is like the opposite twin of snow. It's hard, noisy and sometimes just scary and painful if you get caught in it. Because of that, snow has become a sort of myth for a large portion of Arabs, as we've never seen it, only heard about it.
A month or so into my stay in Deggendorf, the weather forecast predicted large amounts of snow falling alongside subzero temperatures. Hearing that, my friends and I (who were yet to see real snow) got a bit excited, but held our expectations down, since we were so used to things like that never actually happening. A few days passed, and the forecasts were all wrong, as we were expecting. We paid it no attention and then went out to hang out at a friend's house. As the hours went by, we chilled, had dinner, played some card games and all was going great. Up until one of us decided to look outside the window. Things started to get better.
As we crowded and huddled our faces against the glass, what we saw drew immediate smiles across all our faces. We wasted no time. We had our shoes and jackets on in an instant and raced outside. Our breaths were stolen in a rush of happiness and glee as the frigid wind stung our noses and the frosted flakes fell against our faces. It was like stepping out into a whole new world. The heavy snow had blanketed EVERYTHING, and now the land was all covered in white. Sidewalks, bike lanes and dirt patches all disappeared into one another; the roads were a mixture of melted snow and dirt from the constant traffic of tires running through. But what truly mesmerized me was how much brighter the night had become. The excessive amount of white reflected the glow of street lamps and we were basking in this surreal well-lit atmosphere. However, as the otherworldly magical mood settled in and we got used to it, another thought started rising to the surface: violence.
It took almost no time for one of us to grab a bunch of snow, form it into a ball and HURL it onto someone else. Chaos immediately ensued. We were all ducking, hiding behind cover, gathering snowballs, throwing them at the closest person. It was hysterical, a bunch of people in their 20's laughing their lungs off and tossing snowballs around at each other like grenades. But the thing is, we didn’t care who saw. As a matter of fact, I don’t even remember if there was anyone who saw us, because at that moment in time, no one else existed. It was me, my friends and the snow all in a world of our own.
I can't help but wonder, how can something so cold make you feel so warm?
Ziad Alsurakji - Some random guy from Palestine who loves putting words together and drawing an image in your mind. As I did my exchange semester at DIT, I write about the simple, neglected things in life which just about anyone and everyone can relate to. I also love food, like a lot. So if you can bless my palette with new flavors, let's be friends.