29 December 2005
16-year-old survives his experiment in 'immersion journalism'
Thursday, December 29, 2005; Posted: 9:43 p.m. EST (02:43 GMT)
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Maybe it was the time the taxi dumped him at the Iraq-Kuwait border, leaving him alone in the middle of the desert. Or when he drew a crowd at a Baghdad food stand after using an Arabic phrase book to order. Or the moment a Kuwaiti cab driver almost punched him in the face when he balked at the $100 fare.
But at some point, Farris Hassan, a 16-year-old from Florida, realized that traveling to Iraq by himself was not the safest thing he could have done with his Christmas vacation.
And he didn't even tell his parents.
This incredible story reminds me of a few things:
1. I skipped school in the 8th grade and traveled to Manhattan with a school-mate named Barry Klarman. We lived in Whitestone Queens so it was no big deal, unless you consider that we were only 13... That was a loooong day, especially after we ran out of cash.
2. When I was 12, my parents, for whatever demented reasoning, sent me on my own from Istanbul to JFK, with a 12 hour lay-over in Amsterdam. I wandered every square inch of that airport back in 1983... I remember how the public toilets were clean, sanitary and private.
3. I bought myself a motorcycle when I was 14, from a kid with connections to organized crime. It was a Suzuki DS80 dirt bike (paid $175 for it, then had to change the piston and rings), and I kept it hidden in our basement in Queens NY, snuck it out to go for joyrides, and my parents never knew... until one of the neighbors told them.
For these reasons, I must salute Farris Hassan for having balls big enough that he must use a wheelbarrow to hoist them... -AT
Posted by IMA at 12/29/2005