Sunday, January 20, 2008

Where lions wear wrist watches

It's funny how you can walk past something hundreds of times, and not notice the details. I never really paid much attention to the lion statues in Manara "Square" in Ramallah, because I hated the idea that someone had spent money on them, when there are so many other good causes to spend on. And as a Muslim, I just don't like statues. And also because the lions were dwarfed by an ugly metal thing, it seems too generous to call it a sculpture, that always made me wonder "what on earth were they thinking?" Thankfully, they took that down recently. But there are plenty of other things to wonder about standing near the Manara, like why is it called "Manara Square" in English all the time, when it is a circle? Or why do all the Palestinian Police stand around talking most of the time while pedestrians wander in and out of traffic? Or why do Palestinians think it is acceptable to slap up posters all over everything, even the lions? Mostly, I just wonder if I can get across all those streets without getting run over.

But actually, the oddest thing to wonder about escaped my notice until recently. One of the lions is wearing a wrist watch! I have read several explanations of how the lion ended up with a watch here, here and here, but the gist of the story is that the designer meant to remove the image of the watch before the design was sent to the people who carved the statue in China, but either by mistake or because the Palestinian Authority neglected to pay the designer on time, the design was sent with the watch included and the carving was faithful to the design.

Picture source

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