Yesterday, we walked through the old city of Ramallah to meet a friend... on the way we stopped to meet three Palestinians in their work environment. I was surprised and delighted to meet these guys - and would like to share their stories with you.
First up was a lovely young man who tunes pianos in his small workshop in the old city centre. The workhop is nice and bright, and like most of the buildings here, is made of limestone. His family is very artistic - his brother is an artist. He studied music in Nablus and learned how to tune pianos in France. He also plays the Oud, a string instrument which you can see sitting on top of the piano in the photo below.
You would never have guessed that this young man is a violin maker. He is a sporty looking type from a family that has nothing to do with music. He told us that the first time he heard music was as a young boy during the second intifada (started in 2000), when there was nothing else to do and he came across the local music school. It was at this point that he decided that he loved violins and that he wanted to make them. He attended a violin making course in the UK and has become the most sought after violin maker in Palestine (there are more than you think!). Over summer he is going to refugee camps in Lebanon as a volunteer to repair violins and other string instruments.
Another small workshop in the old city, but very cosy. I was a bit jealous of his chosen career that he was clearly very passionate about.
Last but not least we met a local cook who works in a kitchen that is famous for traditional Palestinian food. I haven't quite understood yet how the system works, their main business is that they have an oven that people can use in a number of ways. You can either prepare food at home and cook it in the oven for a fee, you can buy the ingredients and ask the cook to make the food, or you can order the food and they make everything for you. The wood-fired oven is huge. The dish in the photo contained chicken pieces in broth, which the cook was just about to spice with his secret ingredients. Rice and beans are added later on.
I could not believe that this young man's father was born in 1901!!! Zahran is the very passionate owner of the Dar Zahran Heritage Building, which he has set up in his old family home located in the centre of Ramallah.
We were greeted with coffee, sweets and a tour of the building. It is not surprising that Zahran is so enthusastic about this bustling cultural centre - he has spent the last 5 years restoring the 250 year old building to its former glory. It now includes an art gallery, a space for talks, and a very good shop selling traditional Palestinian wares. He also has plans to open a library and cafe soon.
The small courtyard has a lovely fountain that offers some peace and quiet from the busy street, and
the 1 metre thick walls ensure that the house is warm in winter and cool in summer.
Zahran's dad it the handsome young man in the middle of this photo. I quite liked the contrast between the old and the (relatively) new world in this photo - only one generation apart in Zahran's case!
Some of my friends back home are surprised to hear that Palestine has its own brewery, that brews according to the "Reinheitsgebot", the German beer purity law from 1487.
My friends will be even more surprised that we visited the brewery and that we met the "first and only female beer brewer in the Middle East"!
Madees has an MBA from Birzeit University and works in all parts of the family business, but she loves the hands-on activities the best, as well as travelling to visit breweries in other parts of the world (especially trappist breweries in the Netherlands)! She hasn't been to Australia yet so we suggested that she visit Little Creatures Brewery in Perth... to steal some ideas about how to turn a brewery to a popular hang-out - although Taybeh Brewery has mastered the art of Octoberfest already.