Reflections on art, fitness, family, politics and literature that hit me like bricks as I chauffeur my children from place to place...
A pink taxi
August 6, 2010
Maternal and Paternal
In Arab countries, aunts and uncles on either side of the family have different titles: in arabic ammou/amto for paternal uncles and aunts, khalo/khalto for the maternal uncles and aunts.
I may be generalizing, but I believe that relationships are very different with members of each side.
A maternal cousin of my father visited us last weekend. My grandmother was a Palestinian from Jerusalem. The Khalidi family are today all academics, my father's generation, as well as their children (very few are not). Some are scientists, most are historians.
My father and his cousin spoke about the various members of their relatives, informing each other of the whereabouts and latest stories of their mutual cousins. They were talking about one professor or the other and much academic politics. Then they veered to true politics, but their conversation had strategic studies' overtones, rather than domestic politics.
Their conversations made me think of how different they would be had my father's Lebanese paternal family visited us that afternoon. The Salaams are a political family and while they are educated and sponsored educational institutions, they are not academic per se (some exceptions). The generation of my father and their children have a small number of PhDs, but most of his cousins and siblings have chosen politics or business for their careers. If one of my father's Salaam cousins had visited him that day instead of a Khalidi, the conversations would have moved towards business deals or the micropolitics of Lebanon. Such a small country, so much politics!
These two families are very different in their cultures despite the fact that they originate from two neighboring Arab countries (barely any dialect differences). Also two siblings married two siblings of each family (as seen in the posting "Page in History"). That resulted in cousins that enjoyed both sets of family culture. When I speak of my own background I always need to specify: my father is half Lebanese half Palestinian. I specify this because of all the above distinctions. The differences lie not in national cultures but rather in family cultures.
The pink taxi runs from 7 am to 7pm. It picks and drops off my 3 kids at school, ballet,judo, aikido, violin, climbing, riding, squash, basketball, skiing, skating, swim team, friends, grandparents and teachers. The car, not pink, but a black SUV, drives to Carrefour and Coop. To Club stretch for pilates and Aviation club for weekly workouts. It is driven by a woman who navigates on the radio, gets DJed by her 4 year old or sometimes quietly reflects. The thoughts are about politics, family, humor, literature, art or fitness. Sometimes they are excruciatingly longwinded, other times they are gossipy and hot.
I hope you will all enjoy!