Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Souring Gunmen and the Nokia Ring Tone

Monday 18th June 2007
Nablus
West Bank

The first question that has to be answered with the title is the word that probably breaks every grammer in the book, as I have never heard the term "Souring" . The answer actually lines in a bad translation from Arabic to English, as the word sour means film in Arabic, thus in my brillant linguistic brain I have adapted the term sour to souring, as defined as "filming".

So translated the title could be interpreted as Filming Gunmen and the Nokia Ring Tone, the part that Nokia plays in the story comes later.

We drove up the Settlers road through the West Bank in my armored car , this is a road where in past times you never would of considered travelling along unless in an armored car as many attacks have occured here, mainly snipers shooting at settlers cars, so the the armor just gives you a sense of security. Actually the worst thing is that the shock absorbers have become totally useless and all I have are the springs so it is like travelling in a bouncy bus more than a classy secure car.

We parked the car and walked thru the Hawara Checkpoint just outside Nablus, this is one of the checkpoints that make life hell getting in and out of Israel and the West not only for journalists but even more so for Palestinians, the rights and wrongs of checkpoints can be debated on both sides. But for us they can just be a pain in the preverbial. Going in is easy , coming out can take minutes or hours you never know.

So our local fixer Ali picks us up and takes us for coffee in the centre of town, we have an appointment with the Fatah gunmen who basically control the town as the bad boys. Previously we been taken in taxis and waited and transfered and moved from camp to building before we meet the bad boys. However the Israeli Defence Forces having been raiding the Refugee Camp on the outskirts of Nablus where the bad boys have lived and operated from. So we had to wait have coffee and be told where to go at an undisclosed location in the town.

Ali's phone rang , words where exchanged and we drove off , now there is no blindfolds or hoods on the head to a clandestine location, just a never ending string of Speed bumps. I am convinced that Nablus has more speed bumps than any other city or town in the world.

We pulled up outside the building and you are always nervous to some extent as these guys are the real deal and not parading for show. There were about six of them with their leader Abu jabel, who is a big big boy, handshakes and smiles. I thought that we would be doing the interview inside, but Abu Jabel insisted we would do the interview in the street.

So out we go Correspondent Mike Tobin, Producer Ibrahim Hazboun and myself standing in the street with six gunmen, so what do you do well we did the interview and then they asked if we needed some walking shots with them and Mike. (These guys are media savvy and do not need some dizzy PR person buzzing around) We did the walking shots all good Mike and the gunmen pix.

I thought the shoot was over as the boys would move on quickly, when Abu Jabel asked if we wanted some pictures of him shooting his gun. That is how crazy this place can be " Here is a big time gunmen of Fatah asking if we need pictures of him shooting.

"Sure why not?"

So we take to the edge of the building and Abu Jabel takes aim at a bottle or can down the hill and just as he is about to fire, the sound that we all know echoes , his Nokia Phone rings breaks the silence . He apologies and takes the call, so we set up again and just as he reaches for the trigger the Nokia Phone tone again breaks the silence, then as he answers one call his second phone rings, so picture this big gunman , M16 gun and two small cell phones against the side of a building with me pointing a small camera at him.

Eventually the phone calls end Abu Jabel points and fires camera jumps such is the sound that makes me jump, so I ask can we do it again.

"No Problem"

And without the Nokia we get the second shot.

"Now 'sour' us driving away"

With guns poking out they drove away, big guys with guns in small japanese cars, they could barely fit in with all there weapons and jackets packed with spare clips.

We only had a piece to camera to film before stopping for lunch and let me tell you the chicken breasts at Mister baker could be used for tiles on the space shuttle. Our exit was OK as we timed it for before workers tried to leave the city, out thru the gate and back to the office.

Just another day working in the Unholylands

4 comments:

PLANET3RRY said...

What a crazy story! Glad you were safe while you were souring...

21stCenturyMom said...

I get an adreneline rush just reading this stuff.

To me 'souring' means 'going sour on' as in developing a dislike. I'm glad you were using that word as a verb and not as an adjective. "Souring gunmen" have to be the very worst kind.

FlutePrayer said...

Thanks for sharing. It makes me want to pray even more, especially for you.

Anonymous said...

Good thing it was Fatah gunmen and not those other succers over there. Guess you have to pick your bad guy goup to visit with care, Mal. Interesting story and glad you were carrying your small camera. Yep, definitely would be worth looking into another line of work. ARE YOU CRAZY MAL? Have you thought about medication? Have renaned you and Tobin...Thelma and Louise.
But it was a great story! Thanks and keep on souring...hummm.
Annie