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August 27th, 2009
03:13 PM ET

The calm before Katrina

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/08/26/eggers.katrina.zeitoun/art.dave.eggers.jpg caption="Dave Eggers writes that Abdulrahman Zeitoun dreamed of fishing on the Syrian coast as Katrina approached."]
Dave Eggers
Special to CNN

On moonless nights the men and boys of Jableh, a dusty fishing town on the coast of Syria, would gather their lanterns and set out in their quietest boats. Five or six small craft, two or three fishermen in each. A mile out, they would arrange the boats in a circle on the black sea, drop their nets, and, holding their lanterns over the water, they would approximate the moon.

The fish, sardines, would begin gathering soon after, a slow mass of silver rising from below. The fish were attracted to plankton, and the plankton were attracted to the light. They would begin to circle, a chain linked loosely, and over the next hour their numbers would grow. The black gaps between silver links would close until the fishermen could see, below, a solid mass of silver spinning.

Abdulrahman Zeitoun was only thirteen when he began fishing for sardines this way, a method called lampara, borrowed from the Italians. He had waited years to join the men and teenagers on the night boats, and he'd spent those years asking questions. Why only on moonless nights? Because, his brother Ahmad said, on moon-filled nights the plankton would be visible everywhere, spread out all over the sea, and the sardines could see and eat the glowing organisms with ease. But without a moon the men could make their own, and could bring the sardines to the surface in stunning concentrations. You have to see it, Ahmad told his little brother. You've never seen anything like this.

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Filed under: Hurricane Katrina
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Tyrone

    I'm waiting for the first white MAN to speak out against the white coward low life cop. That taser a 72 year old white woman! WHERE ARE THE WHITE MEN? Why have not just one white man stood up against this abuse of authority. Black people are always ridicule for everything under the sun.Most the time for standing up against hatred racism and abuse of authority.Do you care about your own? Do you respect woman ? Do you care about senoir citizen? The would knows how you feel about menorities! To not speak out against gutless low life cops that taser just shows your gutless low life way of thinking! The same way whites stand against Michard Vick a human being and for dogs! ( IS ALL TELLING) The way you white stood for the Iraq War that today the world knows that should never been started and 4,339 Americans dead for nothing . But hate President Obama for trying to give all Americans healthcare (IS ALL TELLING) It time for CNN to have a program White in America" And there is a question why Katrina happen!

    August 28, 2009 at 10:19 am |
  2. Annie Kate

    This post is great. I'd love to read the rest – I hope all the people made it through ok.

    August 27, 2009 at 10:07 pm |
  3. Cherisa

    WHAT IS THE WHAT was excellent; I can't wait to read all of ZEITOUN.

    August 27, 2009 at 6:16 pm |