Sunday, September 23, 2012


Once upon a time, I went to an economic summit in Amman, Jordan, organised by the Crown Prince, who was at the time the heir apparent to King Hussein.

At the registration desk, the man filling out my id badge (above) asked me my name.
I told him. "Again please" was the reply.
I told him again. "Again please" was the reply.
I told him again. "Again please" was the reply.
I told him again.

I was just beginning to think this guy wasn't really with it when he appeared to give up, completed my id badge and handed it to me.

On reflection I thought, well, my name is in Irish and that would not have been an everyday experience for him. And then I promptly forgot about the whole thing.

Much later, I was at a reception hosted by the Irish Consul. I was quite surprised when people coming up to me pronounced my name properly without having to be told. That wouldn't happen at home in a fit. In Dublin I have been called all sorts of things, up to and including "Mr. Gruber".

I really didn't know what to make of it all until much later when I mentioned this to the Irish Ambassador. He was not in the least surprised by the whole thing. He explained that Arabic is written phonetically. Then it all made sense. The man filling out my badge was actually zeroing in on the precise pronounciation of my name and my subsequent experience at the reception passed him with flying colours.

1 comment:

Póló said...

It was at this conference that I first encountered Israeli in-your-face aggressiveness towards the arabs.

When it came to his turn to speak, the Israeli Head of Delegation, I think it was Rabin, made a point of saying how convenient Amman was as a location for the conference as it was "only ten minutes by helicopter from my capital JERUSALEM"

And it's only gotten worse since.