It took a while, but I received my Bedouin name.
I had been dropping hints for a few days – if you consider “If I don’t have a Bedouin name soon, you can call me a taxi back to Aqaba” a hint.
It happened unexpectedly one night. I was chatting with Sydney from Oregon. She and her parents were on a two-year trip around the world. They sold their house and quit their jobs. We were kindred spirits!
Sydney is the smartest nine-year old I have ever met. She’s going to have a farm when she grows up. She has every inch of the farm planned. Every animal. Every crop. Every detail.
She was peppering me with questions about my family’s farm back home when Salem looked at me and said, “Ichchryim.”
I gave a puzzled look to Salem.
“Ichchryim, your Bedouin name. It means ‘generous one’,” he explained.
There was a five-minute tutorial on how to say it. I explained I have a step-nephew, Khiym. “Close, eh?” I said. “Not really,” they said.
I accepted it graciously and I am addressed for the rest of my stay by my Bedouin name. Like an obedient puppy, my ears perk and my heart glows when I hear my name.
I often hear what I think is “Ichchryim” in their conversations the following days. I’m tickled that my name comes up so often. I imagine,
“Ichchryim is such a great guy.”
“Ichchryim is very helpful around the camp and in the office.”
“Isn’t Ichchryim funny?”
“Isn’t Ichchryim smart?”
“Are all Canadians as nice as Ichchryim?”
“I wish Ichchryim could stay forever.”
One day I just have to know and ask what they are talking about. Turns out there’s some other Arabic or Bedouin dialect word that sounds similar to my Bedouin name.
Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try to understand each other, we may even become friends. – Maya Angelou