We begin the drive along Haneviim Street and soon get stuck in midday traffic. The windows are closed and the air conditioner works well, so we are not uncomfortable. I subtly return the subject to Gingy’s girlfriend. He explains that her father is Moslem and her mother Jewish. I am a little confused as I am under the impression that by Islamic law that would make his girlfriend Moslem, not Jewish. When I combine this with Gingy’s telling me that his driving license has been disqualified for drinking and driving, I conclude that my new friend is neither religious nor particularly knowledgeable in his Sharia.
Gingy tells me, as I already know, that El-Azaria is thriving. His family has a large house in which Gingy has his own apartment, and they’ve also built another house in the Old City. I am a little skeptical on being told that there is no unemployment in El-Azaria, but I’m usually there at least once a month and can also vouch to its general prosperity.
Gingy tells me that he works with his father and makes between 4,500-5,500 a month. That puts him slightly under the average salary, but for an unmarried 24-year-old he’s doing fine. He’s also making about double the average Jordanian salary, five times that of Syria and eight times the average Egyptian salary. He’s happy to be his own boss and work when he chooses.
As casually as I can I ask Gingy what he would do if El-Azaria was turned into part of a Palestinian state. Gingy is horrified by the idea, but has obviously given it some thought as he simply explains that, in such an eventuality, his family would move to their house in the Old City. It occurs to me to press the point and enquire what they’d do if their Old City home met with a similar fate, but I decide to drop the subject. It is quite clear to me that in any “Two-State Solution” Gingy would be doing his damndest to stay on our side of the fence with his Jewish clients and girlfriend.
As we leave the streets of West Jerusalem and turn into Wadi el-Joz, it is like going from one world to another. The streets of East Jerusalem are less well maintained and there always seem to be twice as many cars as can comfortably fit and all lanes of traffic are jammed. I smile pretending to be enjoying the chaos, but Gingy is unconvinced.
In the end it transpires that it was not the starter, but the battery. Gingy and his father, who according to his son is in his late 60s but looks much younger to me, nimbly change it.
Yossi enjoying his day out a little too much suggests we go and have a humus at a local restaurant, but I object. However, while I’m there I do have my engine washed for a bargain price. Amazingly Gingy’s neighbor who does this tells me that he’s married to a Jewess too. What’s the deal here?
We are brought sweet Turkish coffee, and I purchase a steering wheel cover and Yossi finds some rubber carpets. No bargain, but they might be a little cheaper than in Maale Adumim. We seem to be in a kind of holiday mood, buying things that we don’t really need, laughing at jokes that aren’t very funny.
Our adventure is over and we part with our new friends. Yossi manages to squeeze in a final “shukran” and “ya habibi”. He also promises to recommend them to all his friends. Within a week they’ll conclude that either he’s forgotten his promise, broken it or that he doesn’t have too many friends. Either way they won’t be wrong.