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Starting the Holidays Right!

December 25, 2009 3 comments

I will preface  this by saying my goal is to make my blog less rambly. Please let me know if I succeeded in concision! 

Anyhoo, my last night in Tunisia was a beauty. We created a little winter wonderland in the living room of a teensy apartment. The aroma of cinnamon and stewed fruit from Anna’s addictive mulled wine hung in the air as we enjoyed ourselves …and my holiday mixes! It’s incredible to me how we can recreate home. An earlier attempt to fashion Thanksgiving for 15 people- with a dinky gas stove and no proper ingredients- turned out to be well above our expectations. This night followed suit. The ambiance from the decor,  the dishes spanning Romania, Poland and Germany and of course, the perfect company made the night one of dreams! 

Feeling the effects from the night before’s ADB gala, I passed out at midnight and revived myself two hours later with Karim’s music. A favorite part of my life here. We’ve spent many a late night crowded around Karim as he strums his guitar and gives us renditions of whatever we chose. When our ‘encores!’ exhausted his vocal chords, we took turns singing impromptu pieces of that relished our present holiday spirit. 

I went to bed at 5 am and then woke up at 9 am to do a bit of last minute shopping before Omar took me to the airport. I have had zero problems with Air Tunisia thus far. Cross my fingers that this oddity persists! 

I got into London and was greeted by my mamu, mami and darling little Ankit.  I think one of the best feelings is seeing familiar, smiling faces waiting for you at the arrival gate. We have been planning the holidays for over a month!
We got back to their house, and within 2 minutes, were off to my mami’s sister’s house to celebrate her 40th birthday. 

I had minced pies with more mulled wine to stoke my appetite for the preceding South Indian feast. We went to an East London restaurant where I had my first udapam (loose translation: Indian pizza). Shiva, Ankit and I shared a mango lassi afterwards to cool our tongues from the crazy spicy sambar. After, we  cut the cake and popped open a bottle of champagne. A nice way to kick off my holidays! 

Of course, the next day I wouldn’t have minded dying. I went to my nanima’s where I knew I would have the luxury of sleeping at 7 pm if I wanted. And did. My nanima and I got up early, had tea, did yoga together and then made a  breakfast of her health creations. I love staying at my grandma’s. It’s the house I was born in and a neighborhood I know too well. She has such a stereotypically quaint British home with a wonderful set of neighbors and friends surrounding her and a tiny community of movies where everyone knows everyone . All day long people will be popping in and out. My grandma is very active in the community here and I’m always amazed at the latest she has done or is doing. This time, she had a fresh photo album of pictures from a large scale Asian Women’s event she organized with the mayor of Gravesend. I also saw pictures from a trip to Dubai she organized for retired people. I can only hope I’m still functional at 72. 

Another reason I love going to my nanima’s is because I get to spend time with my favorite family friends. A wonderful thing, of many, about being Indian is that friends are family- except in their case, they’re even more than family! (Proximity could have a role to play in this.) They live two doors down and the eldest, Prit, just got married. His wife, Sanj, has certainly got the touch: since she’s come their house has been rapidly turning into a Martha Stewart ideal.

I wasn’t around when the courting dance happened so I really wanted to get a chance to do some bonding with Sanj. Sanj’s mom runs a fish and chip shop nearby so I went over their to meet her and have a coffee. Then Sanj came around with Priya and we went off for a shopping spree at Bluewater. Once we shopped till we dropped, we headed back to my Nanima’s where she had prepared a scrumdidilyumptious Punjabi feast. God I miss Indian cooking. I ate till I burst, no regrets. 

The next morning, I stayed with my grandma wrapping the last batch of presents and then my mami came to pick me up to bring me over to hers. She had gone with Arjun to the countryside to pick up a fresh, free range turkey as well as load the car with Marks and Spencer delectables. We are going to cook ourselves a proper British Christmas, yorkshire pudding and trifle inclusive! Cannot wait!!!

Bougie Encounters

December 19, 2009 1 comment

Today is my last day in Tunisia before I fly out to England tomorrow and spend the Christmas holidays with my British family. My mom’s side has had générations in Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda but the infamous Africanization policies of the 1970’s scattered them westward. The English speaking members went to London and the French speaking ones to Montreal.

This has clearly played a huge rôle in my immigrant family’s life story, but interestingly, it’s not one that’s discussed to often. I, myself, have had little interest in getting to know the history of thèse countries. At the bottom of my life-to-do list is watch « The Last King of Scotland » and at the top of my never-to-do list is visit those countries. I have zéro desire to die from a brain-eating parasite.

Which is why the event I attended last night, on the Islamic New Year, was so fascinating for me. I  recieved an invite to the African Developement Bank’s end of year party and fortunately, was able to find a last minute date for Fati so I could hog her for the last 48 hours I will be with her in Tunis. I am really glad we chose to go to El Mouradi for this party as opposed to our usual Biwa/Bouef sur le Toit nights. ( a blog on this soon to follow)

So last night’s évent opened with a Senegalese drum band and involved the most raunchly explicit male dancing I have ever seen. I am pretty sure it was inappropriate, however authentic it may have been. After, we all went to get food from the African buffet and it was a shark feeding frenzy where lines were mosh pits. Once we came out alive with a plate of African alimentaire, we were enterained by a parading of the African varieties to be found on the continent. It was actually quite amazing for me to see all the diversity. I admit, I am notoriously guilty of lumping all Africans together as one people.

The showcasing of Africa finally did away with this malaligned thinking. The head dresses, outfits, facial features, music and style of dancing were quite different from country to country, and more interesting for the ignorant American that I am, the same in certain countries which means you could see where the colonial powers messed up in drawing dividing boundaries.

To give a taste of the show : 1.) Ethopian music sounded like South Indian music and the dance was all in the shoulder blades 2.) Cote D’Ivoire was Jamaica revisited and played out in the bodacious bums 3.) Somalia/Djibouti was a cross between drunk-uncle-bhangra and monkey 4.) Tchad’s traditional music was incredible, Spain meets exotic jungle, and I am currently telecharging whatever I can find in hopes of coming across last night’s sampling.

When the North African invite to the piste was announced, I happily joined the ranks. While I wasn’t dressed traditionally, a long Greek gown with a pretty daring deep neck, neither were those who came to the floor . The only traditional outfits exhibited were those by two Berber women from the dessert which is why once amongst the crowd, I didn’t feel out of place and I didn’t feel foreign. My hand and hip motions blended right.

The evening was a really gréât eye opened to a reality I find so cloaked hère in Tunisia. I am in Africa, not the Middle East. The swathes of Africans living hère are made out to be an annomaly in Tunisia, as though they don’t bélong. Tonight I saw the interconnectivity of Tunisia to the rest of the continent and I loved it. ( Can’t say the same about the food though. Ill take Tunisian over Ghambian any day !)

I also loved the beauty I saw in person as opposed to National Geographic. I’ve have always found ebony black skin, gleaming white teeth and a mass of thick braids to be extaordinarily exotic.  For me, it’s a beauty I can’t quite comprehend and it mesmerizes me. I have never found the mélodies of the Arabia, the scents of India, or the khol covered eyes of the East to be anything extraordinary. I am currently listening to « Tabla Beat Science » and for me, it’s America. Which is why last night, dancing away to the slow staccato beats of African culture, I revelled in the exoticness of it all.

I also regretted dancing away the night before that. My unconditioned hamstrings hurt right now ! I went to « La Closerie » for a dinner with Hicham, a Moroccan tennis player who went to Columbia and worked for Citigroup before the inévitable hit. Sob story aside, I finally found a scrumptious salad ! After dinner, we went to the lounge side where a duet was jamming away acoustic interpretations of American 90’s music before the house music came on. Hicham introduced me to all his friends, a medley of modern. I am very fortunate to have had Tunisian expériences in the order I did. It started out with the traditional, closed minded village mentality and has moved progressively along a trajectory where I am now in the midst of refined professionals.

One of the guys I was talking with, a software engineer at HR Access who can’t get enough techno, had an interesting comment about democracy that I had found myself starting to believe long before I came to Tunisia. He said the Arab world is not ready for democracy. The governments want to keep the people stupid so that they can manipulate them easily. He believed that once éducation is fully installed, only then could democracy begin to take supplant the pseudo-democracies and open theocracies.

I have been thinking likewise about American democracy actually. While I believe so strongly in the principles and effects of a democratic society, I often feel as though it is best applied to a state and municipal level and that it might be more benficial if fédéral governments were more oligarchic in nature. I say this because when a populace isn’t educated enough, everything devolves towards neanderthal like populism where gutteral instincts reign over calcuated reason. A truism is that everyone is equal… just some are more equal than others. Money talks, so how can we manufacture a world where humanism trumps profits ? I would say at the outset, start by ensuring livelihoods and éducation, not a welfare state, and then the self-perpetuating cycles of innovation will catch hold wherein a pure democratic system could be better established. This is something only the fédéral government can be tasked with. Right now, there are parts of Cleveland where children have scurvy and unemployment is passing 30%. Cleveland would be able to combat the effects of deindustrialization much easier if this wasn’t the case. Work and éducation intégrâte people into society, and in my opinion, the greatest national security threat is our inner cities where guns and drugs are candy and popcorn. Perhaps we could learn alongside the Arab world on how to better implement a real democracy ? Perhaps.

Anhow, enough theorizing for me. I need to pack because I am heading over to Passage in a few to have a little Christmas teaser with the girls- decorating sugar cookies, making chantilly hot chocolaté, putting up a puny fake Christmas tree and listening to all the versions of « Last Christmas » I found. ( If you have to chose one, go for Glee Cast.) Also, I promised my landlord’s kids I would watch Batman with them before I leave. Ahhh. Also, I still have to mail out thèse Holiday postcards. Ahhh. Also, I still have to de-hangover. Ahhh. Where is the pause button when you need it ?!

Vicissitudes of Tunis

December 14, 2009 2 comments

Just got back from lunch at Foued’s and am savoring both the lingering tastes of a Tunisian home cooked meal and the memories of a lovely weekend past.  I’ll start at the beginning. Thursday I officially finished with my applications and celebrated light by going out for a coffee. On Friday I went out for a dinner nearby at a restaurant that tried to be the spitting image of France. Though the possibility of that is slim- Tunisian cheese is far too bland :p- but the live music and overall ambiance was authentic and a nice change of pace. I highly recommend my Tunisian based readers to check out Angelina Restaurant.

Saturday, I got up before the mullah- 5:00 am- and was hit by a harsh flashback of highschool swim team. I could literally smell chlorine it was that visceral. I put that aside and decided to profit  on the day by writing a few postcards for the holidays, doing an extra long yoga routine, then making myself a nice breakfast that included a makeshift oatmeal I found at Carrefour. I’m quite happy with this discovery, oatmeal here is $10.00! Once well fed and well erranded, I headed off to work.

Yes, I work Saturday mornings.  We are in the middle of putting together a big presentation so it was definitely a rare moment of continuous work. It’s a little bit frustrating because everyone here is ADD and a task of 30 minutes often takes 2 hours. My boss and I will be discussing something then literally, mid sentence, he will cut himself short, pick up the phone and make a call for something unrelated.  I’ve just gotten used to bringing my laptop with me whenever I go to his office so that when it happens, because it undoubtedly will, I can surf twitter and indulge in news briefs catering to the ADD. Ironic eh?

Anyhow, I got permission to leave work early to spend time with my friends. I took the metro to Centreville and met up with the girls to go to the Soukh. It’s an Aladdin-esque looking bazaar that spans many winding streets lined with glittering trinkets and knock off shoes. It’s sheer maddness over the weekends, an embouteillage des gens, where traffic lights for people would probably solve nothing.

We all did some great holiday shopping, and with Fati by my side, I turned out to be a pretty good barterer. A few hours in, it was time to replenish so we went to SucreSale. I ordered a slice of pizza, partly because I am thoroughly amused at how they serve pizza here: thin crust, usually caked in tuna, which is then folded over, reheated, and served up hot! Pizza sandwich in a jiffers! Haha! I waited 25 minutes for this acclaimed pizza sandwich though. Why? Another amusing story. I waited for 25 minutes because there was one person making the bread, making the pizza, making the crepes, serving the pizza, serving the crepes and then passing the bread to the sandwich station where three people were standing… and one was working. With all happening at a Tunisian pace, it was too painful for me to watch such a hodgepodge while hungry so I contented myself with the Arabic music videos playing on the plasmas all around. Still, I think I’m going to put a note in the suggestion box that says “Ford style assembly lines + cocaine in need of importation.”

After eating, the Soukh alleys were too clogged to make further headways so we wrapped up our outing and headed home. DJ F-black wanted me to see him mix and work some of the lights, so I went back to La Soukra to get dressed while everyone else went out for a sheesha.

DJ F-black is a ginormously tall ex-basketball player, originally from the dessert, and has a fabulous laugh that makes me feel at home. I adore him and the way he explains things. He always peppers conversation with “tatta tee, tatta taat” (this or that) “cahao”( that’s that) or “boulot boulot’ (work work) and has appropriate hand/head gestures to signal likewise. He came to me chercher around 7:30 so that we could go to a restaurant on the beach for…pizza! Haha, to think I was a person who once upon a time wouldn’t touch pizza with a ten foot pole.

Actually, this restaurant is incredible, both in decor and quality. If I could, I’d eat pizza from there everyday. The pizza is oven baked, paper thin crust and covered with shrimp and calamari. Delicious! After a great dinner we headed over to Gammarth for the reception party where F was going to mix.

The reception took place at Hotel Residence which is a 5 star hotel with chocolate mousse to match. A little background, F-black is one of the hottest DJ’s in Tunisia, hott as in he’s high in demand ( and easy on the eyes too). He charges a lot and only works for the upper echelon so this Saturday was the first time I mingled with the high of the high in Tunisia. I could totally see colonial residue dripping off of these people.

The reception party started off with live  Arabic music that transported me far away. The beating drum, the eerie violin and the young woman’s husky, powerful voice proved to be utter hypnosis.  I could feel my every cell swaying with her calls. The invitees were dressed in long evening gowns with low backs and steep heels, tuxes and bow ties,   primmed up do’s and glowing skin. By far the most gorgeous individuals I have seen here despite their noses always being pointed sky-high.  A few drinks in fortunately, they dropped the snooty semblance and got busy on the dance floor.  I’m in awe at how these people move from the worlds of the west to the east, just like that.

Around 12 am, the lights go off and F-black starts up with deep techno. Anis, another fave techie, made sure the serveurs kept my glass continually full of champagne. By drink number 5, I was predictably no longer mingling, but rather, up on the ledge behind F-black with my drink, my slims and myself, dancing away and having an amazing time. Music is definitely my baby.

I got home at 5 am and crashed for 4 hours, before I had to wake up  and give my landlord’s wife a yoga lesson. Never again. Never everrrrrrrr again. Teaching yoga drunk is impossible.

I cut the class short and lay in bed with fennel tea I made from fresh picked fennel my landlord gave me. Something unimaginable then happens. As I’m dozing, I suddenly hear banging on my door. Long story short, there’s a little boy with a packet in his hands that has…my camera! My camera! Quelle surprise! Quelle joie! Quelle absurdite! Unfortunately, the memory card was taken so my life has a void from the summer on. But I have my awesome camera back in my possession so it’s worth repeating: Quelle surprise! Quelle joie! Quelle absurdite!

Too full of happiness hormones to keep resting, I decide to get out of bed and go with Samy for a barbeque he was holding at his place. Samy is the ex-model, ex-football player who manages an events company we work with a lot. I was supposed to give him a yoga lesson this morning as well but said I couldn’t because of work….he caught me shortly after this mensonage stumbling into the epicerie buying a mountain of carbs to soak up stubborn alcohol. Caught guilty in the most embarrassing of ways. I looked like death.

Definitely wanting to rectify this social faux paux, I got dressed and he picked me up for the barbeque. It was great plus I love his apartment and the company he keeps. Samy’s brother barbequed blue fish ( i always sing “red fish, blue fish, one fish, two fish” whenever i get served this and no one knows what Im talking about because their childhoods were without Dr Seuss. Noooo! ). We lounged in the sun around drinking wine, munching cheese filled olives and picking out the bones from the fish. I like boney fish, it reminds me to eat slowly, lol.

I then left the bbq to meet the girls in Sidi Bou Said. Unfortunately, I was late by 2 hours so the second I get there, we all crammed into Omar’s car and went for a ride of pure laughter. My group of friends here are so great,  I just can’t believe it is all coming to an end soon. Fati is leaving in December, Me and Anna in February, Denise and Omar in April. That truly is one of the worst parts about Aiesec, it facilitates close friendships that are destined for an unprepared farewell.

We decided to cancel our plans for the Electronica Fest at the Acropolium because we were feeling old and moche. Instead, we went to Carrefour to scout out Christmas decorations for our upcoming themed cocktail party. I can’t wait! Christmas makes me abnormally happy. I’m one of those sorry Hall Mark brainwashees who gets ready for Christmas in November. I can’t help it!

After figuring out what is best for what,  Omar drops me off at mine. I get into my pyjamas and start to read this pretentious piece of French literature for about 2 minutes before a heavy heavy sleep sets in and gets me a ready for a final week with my friends. It’s so depressing. Come Decemeber 20th, Ill head off to London for Christmas vacation— and come back to find us one short 😦

The Female Folly

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

I think I may have committed myself to a date this weekend. I can’t really tell. Gender rules here are so different! This may or may not be the umpteenth accidental date so I figure I might as well break things down and get it right. I like going for coffees and I like talking and I like wearing my glasses. Isn’t that a non-datelike storyline? However, as I’ve come to find out, things are a little different in a Muslim country.

My awareness of the gender difference came about in a French intensive course I took at the beginning of my internship. I learned more about Tunisian culture there than French language. The class atmosphere was a total riot with regular screaming matches over the most ridiculous things. Classic example, my teacher asks about our weekend one day and I mention how I went clubbing  and saw a guy dance like it’s 1999.*BOOM*“It’s because men shouldn’t dance!” “Of coure men should dance!” “The Koran says no!” “The Koran says no such thing!” “It’s harem, I say!” “You’re harem, I know!”And then it becomes a garble of everyone trying to get in their two-bit/my brain crying “loud noises loud noises go hooooome!”. Decibel levels had no limit.

These kind of ‘debates’ occurred daily for the entirety of the three week course. The class would be divided along gender lines with the women always being the most progressive and our Turkish French teacher always leading the way. She was such an animated figure that I sometimes couldn’t be sure if she was engaging in theatrics. She was also such an inept french teacher and should probably become a life-coach for broken girls and mislead men.The amount of times she took on that hyena herd of dudes single-handedly to tell them things such as “No,  actually you shouldn’t kill a cat before you have sex with your wife for the first time because not only is that NOT in the Koran,  it’s not logical.”

Yes. Illogical much. I went for a coffee with her once because my head was spinning from all the nonsense I kept hearing come from the mouths of so-called secular, educated Tunisians. What she told me was that in fact, it’s very common for mal-educated Muslims worldwide to cite the Koran over every little thing when the reality is they aren’t well informed; it is very difficult to understand a religion, any religion, because you must not only understand the text, but also the history and the culture within which such a religion took root and then also, how it interacted with others. I like that she said that because I hadn’t thought of religion  interconnected as such before. According to her, in Tunisia there exists large overlaps with Berber and tribal African cultures and these cultures plays a clear role in  peoples’ understandings of Islam. Which is why, she continued to say, the people cite things as ‘harem’ or make it seem as though they are knowledgeable theologians when they are merely regurgitating what their fathers told them.

So when the following happened at our “Last Day of Class Party”, well, I tried to take it in stride. The teacher handed us back our final exams and somehow, I got the highest grade by far even though I barely spoke throughout the course. The three young (re:audacious) guys in the class saw my note, and turn borderline livid.

One starts complaining very loudly, “It’s because of you I couldn’t focus. Because of you! If you had been sitting over there,  I would’ve done better!”. I’m a little offended  and a classmate notices and say, ‘It’s because you’re beautiful. You should try not to be.’

Lord have mercy. So many ways to critique the logical fallacy in that one. Fortunately, I did not get acid thrown on my face, but I did learn a lesson about my role in Tunisia, looking like a Tunisian. I titled this blog ‘Female Folly’ because as I see it, it’s constantly my silly old fault that I am a woman who cause men to loose control and is reason enough for me to be relegated to the shadows. I’m to senseless to understand how men need their environmental conditions for prime functioning. If I get hassled or stared at or groped, it was my fault, I should’ve walked differently, looked differently, dressed differently, stood differently.

The severity of this became clear the one night when I decided to walk alone at 22:00h. I’d been sitting all day and wanted to get some blood flow by walking to a restaurant to meet my friends instead of taking a taxi. With it being only a 20 minute walk away, I figured, ‘Where’s the harm? I live in a very safe neighborhood and besides, I’m wearing a grey t-shirt, jeans and sneakers’. Well despite this plain jane attire, HERDS of men started following me and yelling. I am oddly not intimidated by Tunisian men, perhaps because they’re tiny, so I’d angrily stop and whirl around, yell back at them in French as I’d move towards them waving my little fist. These punks would literally start to back pedal away as though I had the plague. ( A girl who yells has the contagious crazies?) I had old men wagging their fingers at me, and a rowdy creature in pick up truck throw a can at my head. So what had I done now?

Well, I broke an informal norm. I found out later that if you’re a girl walking out at night, you’re either a prostitute or will soon be made one.  Apparently the legal rules protecting women here are the strongest here out of any Muslim country- so why can’t I walk in peace?  What if I don’t want to have a man at my side to guarantee my safety? What if I’d like to go somewhere and not have my movements watched and controlled?

It’s through thèse instances, and many more, that I’m starting to have a better idea of how feminism developed in the United States and how lucky we are to be free. Undoubtedly the conditions then were similar to what they are here , where once upon a time, my valuation came from men and not from myself, and where the system was set up to keep my power in check. I am in awe at the daunting obstacles strong women before me chose to take on.

For me, I’m too shy to do much. I’ve been told never to talk back to my boss, to just accept what he says. Everytime I’m told this, I always think of this piece of research I read long ago that proves how those who question produce better results. I take a slight bit of pleasure in knowing that he’s not getting the best result… then I do what ( I think) he says.

Being here, I marvel at my own feminist predilections that I never knew I had and I wonder if things will ever be more equal? At the moment, the symbol of gender equality is the right to work. Women here are so proud and happy with how they work and manage a household. But to me, I’m so worried that they don’t want more. I see Tunisian women fill menial feminized labor positions and not get offered pathways to promotion. I see them take care of the children and do the housework while their husbands sit watching TV and smoking a cigarette. I see them treated poorly in the streets and worse in the workplace. I see them say nothing.

And then there’s the youth culture that has so many many silent codes I can’t keep up with so I too say nothing. Well, some codes are actually very overt and  I can’t deflect JIT because I take a few moments to translate. But I’m learning. And I’m newly single after 5 years so that might be adding to the constant obliviousness I carry like a heavy scented perfume. So I’ll go on this quasi date with a Rwandan from France, because I’m curious to know about his life story even though it will probably be, “I grew up in a banlieu. Ca y est.” And I’ll keep going on innocuous coffee dates and talking as I please, because I enjoy it, and I’m not going to factor in the hidden meanings indigenous to Tunisia. It’s not my world. It’s not my folly.

I am Illegal

December 8, 2009 Leave a comment

I just want to make a quick announcement that for the second time in my life, I am an illegal immigrant.  A clandestino. A criminal deserving grave consequences. How do I feel now that I’ve overstayed my visa? Pretty much the same way I do right after my birthday. The same as yesterday; no older, no different. In this case, no more legal or illegal. Funny how a piece of paper can tell me I am no longer a real person, no longer entitled to rights or due process. Whatta world!

Aid Mabrouk

December 2, 2009 2 comments

I am blessed to be surrounded by the sweetest Tunisian families. Thursday evening began the festivities for Aid, or as I like to call it, Tunisian Thanksgiving. My understanding of Aid is that it’s meant to celebrate the joy that comes from following God’s word. Aid pays tribute to Abrahim’s near sacrifice of his son at God’s command. Thankfully for Ismael, just before the fatal slice, God intervened and said, ”Good blind follower! Sacrifice a sheep instead.” And he did. So now one ought to do likewise each and every Aid

Plus be with family, friends and food!!

So as I was saying, festivities began Thursday, the eve of Aid. Apparently you’re supposed to make contact with all those you haven’t connected with in a while. One of the phone calls I got was from an ex-model we work with at Sybel. He’s obsessed with bonzai trees and energy – the budding phases of Tunisia’s New Age movement I guess. Literally, everytime time he sends me a text or invites me to go somewhere, it’s in reference to some sort of energy sharing, energy taking or bonzai tree presence.

Anyhow, I actually spent most of Thursday evening locked up putting last touches on my apps. I am never applying to grad school again, totally the worst. Aside from that life ruiner, I chatted on the phone and played with my landlord’s sheep. I just find it so funny seeing a sheep tied up next to a modern house, I couldn’t help myself but play with it. And the kids of course.

Friday morning- no work! – I took advantage and cleaned my house. What does this involve? Dumping lots of hot, soapy water on the floor and then shoveling it all out the door with this giant car squeegee looking thing. Really glad I did a lot of ‘Topless Carwashes’ growing up, I’ve got a perfect stroke. I was actually pretty sick on Friday, so I cleaned, made a vegetable broth, and then slept for like 5 hours.

Good thing too, because when I woke up, it was eat-the-sheep-time. I entirely missed the halaal death, phew. So I spent the evening at my Landlord’s house. My mom had sent me an awesome package that I got right on American Thanksgiving so I dug through it and brought a box of Ghiradelli chocolate’s. Kind of regret it. They were super delicious. Anyhow, I love spending time in family environments and it was great to be surrounded by tons of friendly people. My landlord’s kids are kind of obsessed with me, and so as we gorged and chatted, they just kept running around and interrupting with their adorable french way of pronouncing my name. They’re voices are so squeaky! I love it.

Anyhow, I brought myself in for an early night so I could be rested for tomorrow’s road tripping to Kelibia. My boss invited me to her family farm for the weekend and it was such an awesomely authenic experience. We get out of the car and are greeted by chickens everywhere, rolling hills, trees and nature.

Undoubtedly a lot of cooking, eating and baby holding ( seriously though, my right bicep is still killing me). I also made fresh tabouna bread in this archaic oven, milked a cow, played with baby bunnies, rolled out some ‘Kak’ (delicious cookies filled with dates and rose water and a lot of patience), went to the sea side, and practiced yoga on the rooftop. Hager’s family was so warm, it was lovely just to sit in the morning over a mille-feuille and coffee with them.  Hager, of course, was a darling as usual. She always made sure I sat right next to her and then she would whisper things in my ear so I could keep up with the conversation. She would show me off to all her family members and tell them that I want to be a professor. Sometimes I feel like she’s my mom, at others, like she’s my sister, and then other like she’s my friend. Mom/sister/friend is a good combo so Ican’t complain.

One of my favorite moments though was a long walk through the country. I am so intrigued by Mediterranean foliage: deciduous besides coniferous besides cacti besides hibiscus flowers besides mountains besides the ocean. So many 2nd grade scientific contradictions! My guide, a five year old munchkin who didn’t leave my side all weekend long, took me all over Kelibia to the best places where I could just soak in the beauty. Really sucky that I didn’t bring my camera for this walk.

Sunday afternoon, it was time to go home. Many many bises took place and promises for coffee dates. Hager’s family made a basket for me with fresh olive oil, tabouna, oranges and lemons from their orchard and…Osben. Ewwwww!!

I could not bring myself to eat Osben. It’s stuffed sheep liver/stomach/kidneys/testicles. I don’t know exactly what it is but I can’t bring myself to eat detoxifying organs. Even if I’m totally off and Osben is a lung, the thought of it makes me want to barf.

Sunday I came home pretty exhausted. My landlord brought me a new bed and some flowers from the weekend so I slept in comfort, thanking my stars.

Categories: Tunisian Life Tags: , ,