love and fried food: collection of thoughts

(choosing to leave the recent bad news surrounding Nakba and Gaza out of this post.)


Down the street from me is a restaurant completely devoted to fried food. I think I’m in LOVE. This is their menu which is conveniently located on the street just in case you doubt that really, it is pretty Crispy inside.

My boy.

This palace looking structure is… (you will never guess)

the Ramallah YMCA. Take THAT, America. What does your YMCA look like?
One sign that I am adapting is that at the playground I now have deemed certain trash “ok to play with”. Little round pink cans that held bubble tape= shovels to dig with! Empty soda cans = no touching. And Sufyan calls cigarette butts “cigarette bums”. As in “bum bum” which has been our word for the rear end of any person.
Today i woke up to Raya Soft, our public radio station, having a Muzak day. Sometimes its a Fairuz day, or a classical music day, but today it was “I Keep Holding On” with flutes and synthesizer, “Candle In The Wind” with strings and piano, “Here There And Everywhere” with woodwinds.
Then our power went off…twice.

I just found out that the Palestinian Authority will no longer be dealing with foreign mail incoming or outgoing. There will surely be a boom in the business of renting a little PO box space for people who have PO boxes in Jerusalem. I feel hemmed in by this because care packages are life lines. Now I will continue to have to impose on a family member or friend for any mail we have.
Two Little Girls and some really bad manners
Two little girls (maybe 7 years old) alone (no parents anywhere to be seen) were on the playground with my kids and F and I this past weekend. They were swinging reaaly high and laughing so hard…pumping their legs and screaming with laughter. I was reminded of being a kid this age with my cousin–we always laughed like that. Laila was fascinated by them of course. They were saying (in Arabic) that they were going to swing up to the birds!
How sweet, I thought. Then F translated a bit more: they want to swing up to the birds to poop on the birds’ heads. up to the birds to wipe their noses on them. up to the birds to pee on them. That was kind of funny to me, too, and also reminiscent of my cousin and I because scatological jokes cracked us up…but then a little shift and they were swinging up to the birds to kick them! and to hit them in the head!
They got down and started digging in the sand. Laila, miss social, toddled over to them. I was thrilled because I want my kids to interact with kids here. She started digging with them and they yelled at her to get away! So I moved her to give her her own digging space. The girls then started eyeing us and giggling and saying they are going to put sand on Laila’s head and throw sand at her! I told them not to. Faris, who overheard this and came over, warned them. The bigger girl, in one swift move, put sand on Laila’s little head and the 2 girls ran away up the slide, where they commenced threatening (between peals of laughter) to hit Laila and throw their shoes at Laila. They actually took their shoes off and held them up in the air ready to throw them. AT MY BABY GIRL.
F asked where their parents were. Where is your mom? And dad? I am going to tell them what you are doing here, he says, what you did to a baby. “NO!”, they say. “We didn’t put sand on the baby! It was another baby! Not your baby!”
I had a lump in my throat. How could they bully a baby? Especially MY baby Laila! I felt so powerless because not only could I not understand them enough to know what they were about to do (Faris translated) and protect Laila from them, but I had a conflicted sense of how to deal with them. They are just little girls themselves. It was a hard moment for me. Laila didn’t really understand it, so she wasn’t upset. It was me who was about to cry.
If I want warm water I get it in one of 3 ways:
1) wait until a few hours of direct sunlight has been absorbed by our solar panels to heat the water. This means hot water is not available on cloudy days, and partly cloudy days yield only tiny amounts of hot water. On sunny days, I can have hot water by about 1pm.
2) redirect the water by turning 2 valves in our bathroom then turning the power on to the boiler. Wait 30 minutes and I get about 10 minutes of showering (just enough to wash my body, my hair, and shave 1 leg) or 4 inches of hot water in the bathtub. Supplement with boiled water from the kitchen (about 4 pots) and voila! a bath for my kids. Holy moly its a lot of work.
3) turn on the heat to the entire house. This uses the hugely expensive “Solar” (the name for the big gas tanks we buy to heat our house), but then the house gets warm (good for winter, bad for summer). Solar costs $1000/month if used often enough to actually stay warm.
It was cold all night. A storm rolled in.
The washing machine is apparently tripping the breaker. Every time I try to wash clothes the entire house shuts down with an audible “CLACK.” And Sufyan says, “Ooop! Da power’s off!” in his little boy flute voice.
Thoughts of a home:
I have been in a better place about living here lately. Maybe its that I met a woman who has been living here for 10+ years and the home she has made for her 3 children was so lovely. It was homey and distinctly Palestinian. It was the closest thing to the family home I have in my mind that I have yet seen: a playroom full of things intended for the kids to get into with bunk beds, a small fish tank inhabited by 7 fish the family caught in Jericho and brought home in a water bottle, books, a kid sized wooden table and chairs, crayons and pencils, and bean bags. A big back yard with a play scape, play house, and big old trees for climbing. The house had a decent amount of wood in it with wooden dining table and chairs, built in book cases, and lots of windows. The warmth of the wood was a stark contrast to what we currently live with and it was so comforting.
Trash or treasure:
This morning the kids and I went to our coffee shop and took a croissant to go. We walked down the street to the playground and we were so happy to see a man carrying 2 humongous bags of trash out of it. “YAY!” we all said. And Sufyan was so excited that he kept talking about it, “The people are cleaning the trash!”. But it turned out that the bags of trash had come from the back of the maintenance area where employees hang out. So that was being cleaned while our playground was more trashed than I have ever seen it. What a shame.
I continue to make mental categories of what trash Laila can play with, and what is off limits. My standards are loosening. Still no cans, but bottle tops make great digging tools and pretend coffee mugs. Screws are a great chance to teach her about being careful of “pokies” and letting her put them in the trash. What’s a mama to do?
And we ended our play time today with a snack which for Laila was an apple the size of her head. She’s such an “I can DO it!” little person.

While we played, Sufyan proudly found some “pokies” (a screw in this case)

Action shot. The kids were entertained for at least an hour finding bits of trash and sticking it in a hole in the concrete that was about 2 feet deep.

Laila found a green pastel. We drew all over the concrete with it, an activity we both loved. And Sufyan snuck a “please don’t touch that” popsicle stick (apparently- I didn’t see him do it until I looked at this picture! )

Green fingers, Mama!

more love of the green fingers.


“Malakins” are what mannequins are called here, I am told. And like I mentioned they are never sporting a full set of limbs and head. I am told this is because it’s easier to get the clothes on and off without their hands on.

2 thoughts on “love and fried food: collection of thoughts

  1. Oh, mean kids at the playground freak me out! What do you do? I still just find an excuse to walk away if I see them. Mostly, we have been lucky, and there were either a lot of other people around (so a German-speaker could step in) or it was just a lonely bot begging for attention. In the latter case, I was able to give him some positive attention, which helped discourage him from blocking all of the other kids from going down the slide. He was also the one case when I didn't correct Clair for pushing. She was directly behind him as he blocked the slide, and she told him to go and gave him a push (he was much bigger). He actually told on her. Did I ever tell you about the time I was almost mugged by a band of gypsy kids in Rome? They had rocks; I ran away.

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