I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic
Sitting in the University Library at Cambridge, reading the sculptor Eric Gill’s diaries of his trip to Palestine in 1934 (he had been commissioned by the architect Austen St. Barbe Harrison to carve a series of panels for the Palestine Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem). On one of his excursions from Jerusalem, to the city of Nablus, Gill records that he and his companions:
“At the Hotel (the Palestine Hotel) we stopped and had drinks (I had a lager, they had tea and cakes), a lovely room – very airy and high and cool”.
This reminded me that, last time I was in Nablus, I’d spotted an old sign on what I was told (by my own friend, the architect Naseer Arafat) was now a building used by UNRWA. It was the notice for the restaurant of the same Palestine Hotel visited by Gill. Interestingly, the Arabic uses ‘locandat Filastin’ for ‘Palestine Hotel’, ie the Italian-derived term often seen in Egypt, rather than ‘funduq’, the word now usually given as the Arabic for hotel.