Whenever you read a book, you come across words or phrases that you don’t really know. Usually, you just keep going, knowing enough to understand the context. But, wouldn’t it be a better learning experience if you jotted down or circled what you didn’t know so that you could actually learn something?
This is what I did on my recent trans-oceanic airflight when I read The Secret Servant by Daniel Silva. This morning, my laptop on my lap, I looked up those words and phrases, with the hope that I might remember them the next time I run across them.
Here goes —
Mcyma” – an classical architectural feature. Think of a pediment on top of a Greek temple. The top is flat, and then there is a reverse-s shaped piece, with another flat piece supporting it. It is that middle piece that is the cyma.
“Memunah”, which is used in the book to describe the most respected leader of the Mossad. I am not sure this is the best use. It appears that “Menumah” is the name of an angel, who was both powerful and a dreamer. To say that the Mossad’s Menumah is powerful and a leader omits this important quality.
“the Bab al-Wad”, this is the gorge which you pass through heading west from Jerusalem toward Tel Aviv, as you leave the Judean hills for the coastal plain.
“shaheed”, an Islamic martyr, including a suicide bomber
“AIVD”, the Dutch Mossad
“Katsa”, a Mossad field chief who recruits and controls its agents
“Sayanim”, volunteers outside of Israel who help the Mossad”
“Brown cafes”, coffee houses in Amsterdam
“ayin”, trackers for the Mossad
“bodel”, couriers for the Mossad
“kufi”, a white (typically) Moslem skullcap
“allochtoon”, an alien immigrant to Holland
“takfir”, the act of declaring a Moslem to have left the faith (which can lead to the death of the individual)
“ghurba”, living in a land of strangers, or feeling that you are an outsider to the community
“Sayid Qutb”, a 20th century Egyptian founder of the Moslem Brotherhood
“ibn Tamiyya”, a 13th century Turkish Moslem fundamentalist
“Maglite”, a brand of small flashlights
“Balaclava”, a ski-mask type of head covering that would allow for eyes (or eyes and nose) to show
“SSI”, Egyptian secret police
“AMAN”, security branch of the Israeli Defense Forces
“Ketamine”, a drug used for anesthesia which can also be hallucinatory
“to debride” a wound, is to clean it of any foreign matter
“galabiya”, a robe worn by men
“niqab”, same as a burqa
“Torah Prison”, prison in Cairo
“djellaba”, a galabiya
an “ibn balad”, a conservative, old fashioned, unmodern person
“COBRA”, Cabinet Office Briefing Room A, the emergency center at 10 Downing Street
“Salafist”, fundamentalist Islam (like Wahhabi), which believes that it has all gone downhill since the days of the prophet
“Ushanka”, Russian hat with earflaps
“Tasbih”, repetitive Moslem prayer, and the bead string used to count the repititions
“Misbaha”, the tasbih beads
“Funen Island”, the large Danish island (connected to the mainland by bridges) where Odense is located.
“brogans”, wide toed boots
“Makarov”, Russian semi-automatic pistol
“plinth”, the base of a column
“adhan”, the Muslim call to prayer