“C” And The Conclusion Is Good Enough For Me

This blog entry about the events of Sunday, June 28, 2009 was originally posted on August 02, 2009.

DAY 15: I had met Adrian and Andrea the night before, a young traveling couple from the UK who had just arrived in Israel for their holiday around the country.  Fresh from the airport and into the Old City of Jerusalem, they asked me, Maurice and Willa for travel tips and advice on what to see and where to go, and for me, my transfer of knowledge acquired from the past two weeks was evidence that I had truly come full circle.  My “cycle” had been complete, which meant it was time to say goodbye.

I started my goodbyes early, having breakfast before seven with my Latin connection, Marta and Jenny.  (”Filipinos are the Latinos of Asia,” I told them.)  While the Imperial Hotel’s dining room was full of young, groggy-eyed peace volunteers, the three of us were fairly animated for such an early time, joking and reminiscing about the short period of time our lives had crossed.  They appreciated my company because the tour to Nazareth and Galilee they had taken the day before was pale in comparison to the Masada/Dead Sea/Jericho trip I had taken with them the day prior.  “[We were stuck on a tour with old people,]” Marta told me.

The two Latinas were off to tour parts of the West Bank again that day, so we split after saying our goodbyes — and invitations.  (Jenny actually had some prospective freelance interactive work for me, in her life as a mathematics on-line course author.) 

“Maybe I’ll see you in New York… Or London… Or Montreal,” Marta said to me, after our farewell embrace.  Whether or not it was foreshadow I didn’t know, but I was up for anything.

I SPENT MY LAST MORNING IN ISRAEL quickly seeing a few more sites in Jerusalem, like the big scale model of the city during the Second Temple Period (picture above) and the famed Dead Sea Scrolls, both found in the Israeli Museum across town.  The latter, the oldest existing written record of the Old Testament — and “the most important discovery in the history of the Jewish people” — was housed in the Shrine of The Book, an architecturally-modern sanctuary built not only to praise the sacred documents, but to keep it under dim, harmless lighting conditions and regulated humidity.

Back in the Old City, I packed my bags and bought some quick souvenirs.  I bumped into Miriam, who was at a sidewalk cafe smoking one of her first of many cigarettes that day.  We spoke of us getting separated en route to the Stations of the Cross route the day before and she said it was no problem because she ended up attending some free concert that she really enjoyed instead.  We said our goodbyes; she was to leave Jerusalem too that day, heading down to Eilat for her beach holiday — and hopefully less talk of “heavy” politics.

I said goodbye to Alex, the Palestinian computer guy at the Imperial Hotel.  He wished me well, and told me to recommend the place to my friends.  “Tell them we’re crazy… but we’re nice!”

My final goodbye was to Willa, who I had happily bumped into at random in the Arab shuk.  “Hey, I went to your website,” she told me.  “You were really modest about it [when you mentioned it yesterday!]”

“Well, I like traveling incognito,” I joked.

“Yeah I didn’t realize we were with such a celebrity.”

“Well if you knew, you would have acted differently,” I told her.

“Yeah, I would have said stuff and started giggling.”

“And then I would have written about you giggling,” I wisecracked. 

She giggled.

We said our goodbyes and invitations — everyone makes it to NYC at some point anyway — and split up.  She ventured off while I went to catch my shared sherut taxi to Ben Gurion Airport for my final departure out of Israel — even though I never got a chance to meet up with Lilit, whom I originally planned the trip with.  (Her writing fellowship program had consumed all of her time there, without a moment to spare for me.)

THE SECURITY CHECK WAS LONG, but not as nearly annoying as my El Al check inbound to Israel.  This time, they let me keep all my carry-on baggage with me, but not after having it swabbed and inspected about five times before I reached my gate.  With a few moments to spare, I went to the nearby McDonald’s — something I try to do in every country see how different it is — and ordered the kosher McKabbab.

“Tortilla or laffa?” she employee asked. 


“Do you want to Super Size?”

“No,” I answered.  I paid for my order; her “smile was free.”

Opening the McKabbab by pulling off a perforated tab, I saw that this Israeli take on McDonald’s fast food was very similar to the McArabia I’d once had in Cairo.  Perhaps the similarities attributed to the formula I’ve been using as a thread throughout this blog:

If A comes from C, and B comes from C, then A and B come from C.

But what is this “C” I speak of?  Is C the common bond of all of Mankind, regardless of religion?  Is it the one almighty and unifying god that the Bahai believe in, that is above all other religions’ “prophets?”  Or is it, in this case, the limited list of factory-processed ingredients from the McDonald’s franchise?

Whatever it is, you could easily say that the belief in this common bond of everything labeled “C” can be classified as a belief in something I just made up: “C-ism.”  But wait, don’t I have issues with isms?

If you recall in my Day One entry, I stated that, “Isms aren’t so black and white in modern society, and that no one can purely classify themselves as one thing these days in terms of the old school organized religions.”

Having just finished reading this entire blog on travel in the Holy Land — and by simply looking around you wherever you are reading this — you’ll see what I’m getting at.  You have to wonder:

Can one call himself a true Muslim if he’s not dropping everything to face Mecca and praying five times a day?  Is a Muslim woman really that pious if she’s not covering up her head?  Are you really Jewish if you’re serving pork tenderloin at a Shabbat dinner?  Is being “culturally Jewish” as Jewish as being “J.B.A.”?  Can one be classified as “Catholic” if he’s having sex before marriage and eating meat on a Friday during the pre-Easter season of Lent?  Can one be classified as “Jewish” if she doesn’t keep Kosher and eats leavened bread during Passover? 

I recall one Good Friday a couple of years back during my New York days with Stephanie — which was also fell on a day of Passover — when we both made a deal to break the rules of our respective upbringings by one simple act:  eating corndogs.

As the saying of bad boys everywhere goes, “Rules were meant to be broken” — but is it really such a “bad” thing?  If not broken, then bent — bent to the point that makes life more interesting and less limiting.  There’s no doubt that people in modern society bend their respective rules often enough, and I say don’t shun it, embrace it.  If everyone of every religion bends his or her rules all the way to a place that connects us more than separates us, maybe then we can all get along.  If you draw up all the world religions in a Venn diagram and bend rules outward to concentrate all the similarities inward to a shared, intersecting zone, it is this intersecting place on the diagram that is, and every shall be, the “C.”

“I WAS WONDERING, WHAT DOES YOUR SHIRT MEAN?” asked Rachel, the middle-aged woman sitting next to me on the El Al flight homeward bound for New York’s JFK International Airport.  I was wearing the same shirt I was wearing on my inbound flight, my “Dry & Ready” shirt with the picture of the dreidel on it

Is she kidding?” I thought to myself, noticing her covered hair, her American accent and her newspaper written in Hebrew. 

“Uh, it’s from the dreidel song,” I informed her.  “You know, Hannukah…?

She laughed at her sudden comprehension.  “Oh right!  I should have known, but I didn’t make the connection,” she told me.  “I teach that song to my kids!”  (She was a teacher living in Jerusalem, but was off to Queens, NY to visit her own grown-up kids.)

“I’m not even Jewish and I know that one,” I told her. 

She smiled.  “Well good!”

We sat together for the eleven-hour ride home.  With my mind still overwhelmed with everything I had seen and heard in the past two weeks, it was quite nice to just sit there.  I intentionally avoided all talks of politics, and simply enjoyed her company.

Back in New York, I felt happy to be home in the world’s melting pot where everyone pretty much does get along, regardless of religion.  I also felt exhausted; this had been no restful “vacation” with me doing everything I could there by day, and blogging and working freelance on the creation of JoshBernstein.com by night.  But I also felt enlightened by my trip, especially since I couldn’t have encountered a better cross section of people in the region, with all the varied views and opinions I’d been exposed to.  (Perhaps it was all attributed to my other belief that I’ve stated many times before on this travel blog, “Nothing is coincidental; everything happens for a reason.”) 

And so, another chapter in my continual The Global Trip saga came to an end, this one taking place in the land of Israel and its environs — and without the slants of any organized tour group.  Independent travel is definitely the best way one should travel in the Holy Land — it’s as easy as it is enlightening.  Holla! 


If you have the sense of humor of an immature 14-year-old boy, you could easily replace the letters in my formula — If H comes from J, and I comes from J, then H and I come from J — and declare yourself a believer in “Jism.”

Next entry: Here I Go Again On My Own

Previous entry: Jesus Christ and Jimmy Carter

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This blog post is one of sixteen travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: Holla! In The Holy Land," which chronicled a two-week journey through Israel, with jaunts into Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian West Bank.

Next entry:
Here I Go Again On My Own

Previous entry:
Jesus Christ and Jimmy Carter


Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.

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The views and opinions written on The Global Trip blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official views and opinions of the any affiliated publications.
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