Home > Academic Analyses, Tunisian Life > Hardly working in Hammamet

Hardly working in Hammamet

Sybel is doing an event for the JCI World Congress Annual Event. I had never heard of this professional development organization before but I am proud to say it started in America. I went to the opening ceremony yesterday to take pictures and revel in saying that it was an amazing evening of ‘work’.

I left Sybel around 5 pm with Foued. How to describe Foued? He drives a Fouedmobile, just had a baby boy, has two girlfriends on the side, perpetually teethes on a red marlboro, and wears the tightest jeans I have ever seen on a Tunisian.

He told me to bring my passport and badge, neither or which I did, but turns out all I had to do was speak American and ‘presto’! It didn’t matter that I was a nobody, because I was a foreign nobody.

The event itself was amazing with JCI chapters from literally around the world. India, Sweeden and Japan were heavily represented but the Tunisian ‘zared’, an eerie sounding tongue-holler, unquestionably had the largest presence. In summation, the opening ceremony was all heavy base, club like lighting,  lebanese singers and predictable organizational bloopers.

I got hungry at 7:30 so one of the techies took me to have a kafteji. We went to a restaurant and inhaled kafteji with baguettes and harissa for 1DT, talked about his dreams to go to Canada over France, and my dreams to dream less. We went for a walk to have a cigarette and chat some more. He explained to me all the varieties of Islam you can find throughout the Maghreb and how that holds up to the Middle East proper. At times I think things are advanced here and at others, I’m thoroughly afraid. I still can’t get over how I have found so many North Africans who do not wash their dishes with hot water because they fear waking the spirits in the sink.  They cite the Koran as proof so what can I say? I just eat off of their dirty plates and tell myself diarrhea is a cure all. ( For the record, this techie, who grew up in France, said that is mainly an African thing and it’s definitely not in the Koran. Phewers)

Anyhow, we went back inside just in time to watch the “Laser Man” Show and then the event wrapped up  The entire team went for dinner together at an authentic  restaurant where I had delicious Tunisian food for the first time. I swear it, there is no such thing as Tunisian cuisine. If anyone tries to tell me variations of oil, eggs, tuna, and harissa is cuisine, they need to get a Rachel Ray cookbook for starters and then move their way on up to Nigella Lawson.

So our team of 20 ate fresh fish and had a wonderful time being obnoxious. We were all wearing chachia’s- a North African beanie- laughing way too loud, and flirting with the waitress a little too much ( me, with the ‘garcon’) In the middle of our boisterous eating frenzy, the waiters come out with an entire ass of a lamb. I kid you not. These people didn’t want a leg, an arm or a shank slice, they just wanted the whole caboose. On top of it, one that was still on fire!!

So I added junk to my trunk with junk from something else’s trunk (I’ll stop now) and then, after I ate myself to immobility, it was time to go. No, that’s not entirely true. Once my side of the table did their part in trying to convince me that Islam is the best religion and it’s for everyone, it was time to go. J’en ai MARRE. My goal upon leaving is to convey some western etiquette that it is really impolite to talk about religion incessantly and then convince the other that there’s is lacking.

Putting that aside, we all got into one of the company van’s and sat in the trunk with some of my favorite techies. One of them is musically inclined and started drumming out a beautiful traditional tune on a flycase while the rest of the men picked up on the rythym and started singing along. I too picked up on the rhythm and started doing a combo of a ‘Grease Lighting’ dance and the Macarena ( and subsequently went tumbling head first into the techies laps when Samir slammed on the breaks indicating our final destination) We all stumbled out, I switched vans, got into the Fouedmobile, and listed to techno all the way home. The End!

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  1. lynn
    November 20, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Ahhh I’m so glad we got to do JCI WC! I was there doing the pitch with the boss when the organizing committee was still shopping around for different event solution companies!

    Also, which one of our techies grew up in France?!

  2. November 24, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Lynn, that’s so cool! You are still Sybel.

    Anyhow, the techie is Fakhredine! Well to be precise, his father did and Fakhre spent a lot of time there… enough to make him a hybrid, I’d say.

    Now that I think about it, I gave a super abridged version of his life story… to the extent that it’s stretching the truth!!

  3. lynn
    November 24, 2009 at 8:20 am

    Fakhre! Tell that kid I miss his face!

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