No Problem

Travel often involves picking up a few new phrases along the way. In Australia an anxious enquiry may be met with a “no worries”.  In South America, when wanting to know exactly when the telephone was to be connected a familiar “manana” (manyana) can be offered. The promise of tomorrow. Here in the Middle East we just add an Inshallah, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, Inshallah. In Indonesia there was the optimistic belum belum – not yet. It doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen, it just hasn’t happened yet.

“Have you fixed the water pipe?”

“Belum belum”

“Have you met Madonna?”

“Belum belum”

Don’t ever say no, don’t get definite, let’s keep an air of possibility.

These phrases are used to bide the time, which means they lose their meaning. It was an English/American phrase that lost its meaning yesterday in Qatar. It has no value, no substance or truth.

“No problem”.

But there was a problem, it was more than a problem, it was a catastrophic event. A nightmare. An unimaginable disaster.

While parents, husbands, and loved ones, stood outside of Villagio desperately pleading for someone, anyone, to go in and find the people they loved, they were told “no problem“.

I was writing in a cafe on the day of the fire. My twitter stream was on in the background. It began with someone seeing smoke, then someone took a photo, and people began asking questions. Someone stood by the door of Villagio tweeting about what they could see. “There’s a lady here and she’s says there’s children in there, but they won’t let her in”.

No problem.

Tell me there’s no problem, and I’ll never believe you. None of us will. Ever again.

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  1. Usually my two favorite words here. No. Not that day. Sad …

  2. Tragic use of the phrase. On your sidebar you have a photo of the triplets that were lost that day. It always makes me cry as I have a photo of my son taken in that same spot. The thought of ever losing him just brings me to tears.

  3. When I read the news report, I was thinking of how many times I have been told, ‘mafi mushkila’, when I wanted to scream, ‘no, it IS a problem’ about things that in context were serious to me.
    I just cannot imagine being told no problem when my spouse or offspring were in danger, so many opportunities lost to have made that day one that didn’t cause such grand loss.

  4. Kirsty – These stories have the power to stun me into silence and sadness every time, even though I read from over 7000 miles away. It’s a horrible tragedy that I wouldn’t have known about without your blog. I send a lot of mama love from Seattle to Doha to everyone who lost a child and to everyone who feels the loss of the community’s children. I hug my own two little ones closer as a result.

  5. =(

    I have no words.

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