Bedouins and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle

daniel adlerThe sun is strong, and green splotches the ochre desert sand. Eucalyptus and piney trees are everywhere. Pink tendrils bounce in the desert breeze. The Arabic under the Hebrew, on the road signs, with its dots and squiggles resembles a cuneiform, thousands of years departed from the Jewish characters.

I’m a dog. I walk into the Mickey Ds, wait fifteen minutes in line, order, don’t pay. I wait . My heart starts pumping, like when you’re in a store about to steal a pack of gum. But these morons don’t know what they’re doing. Three people working, and the guy taking the orders is the same one making the food. So when Dmitri comes back in and asks did you order a chicken sandwich, I nod, take it and leave, eat in the bus, staring out over the mesas and scrubby desertland. Why didn’t I just pay like a normal person? Because a chicken sandwich is nine dollars. And if I’m going to travel around the world, why would I spend on lunch in Israel what would last me for two days in India when I can just finagle my way out of it. That was not a question.

We hiked through a dry riverbed, a limestone canyon with black flint striations. The blue sky was high and scattered with white cumulus clouds. We wound our way up into the limestone cliffs, walking beside acacia trees whose roots reach 100 feet into the ground. The best part was while we waited for the stragglers to get up the slippery hillside, when I lay against a tree with corrugated bark feeling it sway in the wind. The desert leaves rustled and clapped. I walked into a small cave past just beyond stone honeycombs. Wrought iron ladders led us higher and the vistas opened wider.

At the Bedouin camp we sat in a tent where a brown-skinned man kneeled in front of a campfire. He wore a turban and had an impressive aquiline nose. We discussed men and women and the culture of the Bedouin. Then a boy asked, “What happens when a man wants to divorce his wife?” which launched a lengthy discussion on what grounds a woman can leave her husband and how the family plays an important part in correcting behavior so that when a spouse’s family is bad, the spouse can go to their partner, and when the spouse’s partner is bad they can go to their family. This topic proved so interesting that another question was asked about domestic disturbances, and Stav had to say, “Guys, enough of this topic,” and then Steven asked, “Under what conditions can a wife,” AARGHcomeonHEJUSTsaid, “No guys this is serious,” Steven continued. Stav said okay. “Under what conditions can a wife divorce her husband.” Stav said, “Guys we could spend a whole day talking about this,” and we moved on. Then we drank coffee, little shots of Turkish coffee, which do not signal that the Bedouin is cheap, but mean that we are welcome visitors; had we been served full cups, it would have meant, after you finish, it’s time to leave.

For dinner we sat on small cushions and ate pita, tahini, lamb meatballs, Israeli salad, and drank hyssop tea. I ate with Little Danny, Sarah, the fat Orthodox girl, and Alex(?). We talked about physics and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which applies just as much on a quantum level as on a consciousness level, so that as soon as you recognize yourself watching the clouds realizing how happy you are, your happiness changes…


By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

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