Ziad, Memoir 2

On a rainy Monday, during the second semester of my freshman high school year, I made it to my first period a little late. It was a global history class, it wasn’t my favorite nor my worst, I sometimes enjoyed it depending on my morning mood. Our kind teacher Ms.Farrell told us about an upcoming trip that Friday coming up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art which got the class excited. I wasn’t as excited as the rest of the students who kept cheering and talking, I was busy drying myself from the rain I just ran through to get to that boring class.

I was planned on bringing my big headphones with me to listen to some music on the day of the trip, for it might be a long boring day. Come that day I forgot them in my locker and forgot to even bring my earphones. I was extremely mad and disappointed because I only found that out when the bus started moving. We got in the museum and it was bigger than I expected, then our teacher divided us into groups. We started walking around I was not impressed in the beginning, to put it simply, I just didn’t find museums interesting in general.

As I walked through each hall, I asked myself what’s the point of looking at old artifacts, man made or natural, I might as well stare at random rocks, landscapes, old buildings, and railway tracks on my way from and to school. I didn’t find it intriguing to look at outdated, useless and fragile items made by humans who thought the universe was revolving around us. Speak of revolving there was this one antique looking tool that looked like a complex version of a compass  and it was covered with gold. It caught my attention and as I started reading the caption below it, I surprisngly found that piece very interesting. It was called an “astrolabe”. I learned that it was a portable astronomical navigation instrument used by sailors and explorers to measure the distance between the sun and stars above the horizon to determine the latitude. It was invented by a 13th century Muslim Astronomer from Yemen. Being a Yemenite myself it fascinated me and I felt sort of passionate to study more about such medieval technology.

I started to watch more documentaries about astronomers and explorers from the Medieval and Renaissance era. I found myself starting to read about people like Ibn Batutta, Marco Polo and Ibn Khaldun. I also watched a documentary almost every weekend, and several historical movies like 300, kingdom of heaven, Gladiator, Troy, The Message, and more. I felt a great spark of interest in history and I know damn well that that boring history class is not the reason. Ever since I started reading about that astrolabe I’ve been very passionate about history, it was like a gateway for me. And to this day I wonder, had I remembered to bring my headphones that day and listened to music instead, while walking around, would I have ever developed a love for history?