Saturday, May 19, 2012

Jordan Challenge 33: Be Part of a Winning Trivia Team in the Middle East

So, life suddenly got very busy in a hurry here.  The coming week is finals here at UJ, Leah and Siham are in town for the week, and my love-hate relationship with my oven took a turn for the worst yesterday when it exploded in a giant ball of fire that that left me with a burn on my left hand and singed off my eyebrows and a lot of the hair around my face.  I'll do separate posts on most of that, but realized that I haven't been keeping track of Jordan Challenges very well lately, when in actuality, I just helped achieved a small victory for Fulbrighters everywhere last week during a short trip to Jerusalem.

The trip to Jerusalem was actually very serious, and will be the subject of its own post at a later time.  Last week I was fortunate to be able to participate with my excellent fellow Fulbright friends Mike, Luke and Cooper in a tour of the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank.  The tours are conducted by Breaking the Silence a group founded by former Israeli soldiers to share the realities of the occupation with civilian Israelis and ex-pats like us.  It was sobering, to say the least, and I will write about it on its own in a serious post that I sincerely hope my friends, family and students will read about and discuss. 

But on a lighter note, I am happy to report that I can now add "Trivia Night Champion in Jerusalem" to my CV.  The guys, who the rest of the Fulbright group collectively refer to as the Carpetlanders (because you cannot help but notice the carpet as a particularly salient feature of their very spacious apartment) are my close neighbors.  This has been an enormous stroke of luck for me, because they are tremendous people who I love hanging out with (as well as being awesome and generous cooks).  The facts that they like to cook pad thai and other complicated dishes and I like to bake cookies and we all love to discuss current events  have paved the way for a symbiotic relationship that a biologist might point out as exemplary.

The Carpetlanders: Cooper, Mike and Luke.
When we checked to the Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem, they asked if we might be interested in participating in a Trivia Night competition, and the answer was an obvious yes.  The Carpetlanders are also resourceful and inventive, and had recently created a new dish, the Shwomelette.  A Shwomelette is an omelette filled with shwarma meat and chopped tomatoes and onions, preferably procured from Reem, the best shwarma stand in Amman.  So, our team became the Shwomelettes, to which the guys insisted on making my participation also clear, so we became the Shwomelettes Featuring Trish (SFT).

I am pleased to say that we dominated the competition.  We knew, among other things, the capitol of Uzbekistan (Tashkent), the first pair to successfully summit Mount Everest (Hilary and Norgay), and the country that recently had a law proposed to allow a man to have sex with his wife in the hours immediately after her death (it was not passed, but it was Egypt).  Clearly, we Fulbrighters are veritable fonts of useful information.  Among the other teams only one, the Three Hamasketeers, matched our score, and we failed to break the tie in two elimination rounds.  So, we did the only logical thing and declared both teams as Trivia Night Champs and split our enormous earnings, which just covered a single drink for each us for a mutual toast in honor of our worthy competition and the importance of Trivia Nights among travellers.

Team Shwomelette Featuring Trish and the Three Hamaskateers pose for a victory photo.

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