UN 194 and all’s well so far. Also swim suit hatred.

(thousands of people all over Palestine are gathering to celebrate the UN vote for seat 194 for Palestine.  Thousands of people are in the center of town right now, rallying, but here on my street I hear only the breeze, the trucks driving by, and…the breeze.)

Here politics is everyone's business. The billboard says, "UN 194"

It’s day 2 of the week of the UN vote on Palestinian statehood.  Here is an excellent link to my favorite perspective so far–from Hanan Ashrawi.  It makes an excellent point about why this vote is so important to Palestine, even though it is considered “just” symbolic (people say that as if “symbolic” actions, people, and moments don’t make up more than 50% of all major events in our communal lives).

Pool, Bath, swim suit bravery

Yesterday I got to take Laila (just Laila!) swimming at a friend’s indoor pool.  She had a BLAST and I can’t tell you how much my heart needed to bond with her and have fun with her….it was fabulous. I am still feeling a glow from it today. The pool was amazing!  One of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

indoor pool at a friend's house

And Laila was naked most of the time, which was a big bonus for my little one who doesn’t like to be dressed—ever.

happy Doot

My friend also has a huge backyard with soft grass (quite the luxury) that Laila just LOVED.  It was a great visit for both of us.

grass! Look, GRASS!!!!

So in order to go to this pool party (and to the Turkish bath last weekend), I had to get myself and Laila a bathing suit.  I raced around uptown at the end of swimsuit season knowing only one word for swimsuit: “Maiyyoh”.  Oh how I loathe swim suits. I love bodies of all shapes, though.  I’m one of those people at the beach/pool/gym not examining bodies for flaws and happy that everyone is feeling brave, but I have trouble applying that same non-judgement to my own body.  I’m trying, though.  I don’t want to pass my issues on to my kids.   So I am committed to wearing a bathing suit that I am comfortable in (maybe it won’t be this Nike bikini thing) so I don’t miss out on any more swimming because I am hiding.  How convenient, though, that summer’s almost over!  Ha!

Entrance to the bath

The Turkish bath was great.  Mint steam room, internal chamber with heated slabs of marble to lay on, a big marble table that you lie on while someone scrubs you with a loofa (ouch in a good way), a cold dip, and a massage.  It was nice.  A couple of moms had brought their kids who must have been aged 10, 4, and a set of twins no more than 3 who were playing in the cold dip in their underwear.  Afterwards we showered and changed.  It was interesting to see the women in swim suits change back into their jilbab(the long coat/dress that is so popular here) and hijab (the head scarves).  Then we were served tea (meramiyya/sage tea), sat on cushions in a small interior lobby and talked.  I loved it.  I felt pretty far from the bustle and dust of Ramallah.

entrance lobby of Turkish Bath. Note the ashtrays.

Of course when we walked back out into the external lobby all scrubbed and relaxed and clean, there were the other patrons sitting and smoking and eating take-out from styrofoam boxes.  Back to life we go!

Buying a swim suit in Ramallah

Buying a swim suit in Ramallah is funny.  The first thing store clerks tried to get me to try was like workout attire from the 90s.  It was a one-piece with little legs on it, about the length of boy shorts or briefs, and a sports bra-like top.  It looked more like Mr. Spock’s beach apparel than Turkish bath attire.  They also really wanted me to try suits with skirts built in, but they make me look like Zap Brannigan from Futurama.

Or like I’m trying to hide myself. What, me big thighs?  What I ended up with was in some ways much worse:  a Nike brand bikini that is clearly made for a 20 year old.  It says “NIKE” across the butt.  Worse still was Laila’s suit.  At the end of summer, the only suit left for a little girl was a Pocahontas type hootchie bikini with beads on the fringe that adorned the breasts and belly seams.  Breasts?  Um….well she went naked so the suit was moot anyway.  But I had to keep resisting the urge to explain to my friends that the suit was not to my taste.  But the more honest, practical me won out:  those women with 3 kids apiece didn’t care what Laila was wearing or not wearing.  We are all just hoping our kids don’t poop in the pool.

Yoga Thought For Today:  on 108 Sun Salutations

This weekend I participated in teaching 108 sun salutations at Farashe Yoga (where I volunteer teaching yoga) here in Ramallah.  The event was part of Global Mala, organized by the non-profit Anahata Grace.

Mats ready for students at Farashe's Ramallah Mala

So we taught 108 sun salutations to about 40 students who came and went doing as many as they could, and as we were finishing at 8:30pm the Washington DC Global Mala was beginning.  Every year Global Mala uses it’s funds for some consciousness-raising project and this year they are sending their proceeds to Farashe Yoga and Palestine!   Their 200 participants raised enough money for Farashe to host a yoga teacher training intensive next summer here in Ramallah, the target audience of which will be community members who can integrate the tools of yoga into their jobs (teachers and social workers come to mind).  This initiative will be a great way to get yoga into the local community and serve Palestine directly.  Right now our biggest hurdle is getting yoga into local communities and to serve more than foreigner aid workers (grateful as we are for them and as much as we need them to do yoga in order to be compassionate and effectively deal with stress in their work).  I feel really good about it, and it was exciting to be a part of an international effort to bring yoga to Palestine!  Yoga, you know, is my path and is what I have to offer while I’m here.

Mom Thought for Today:  on Mischief

Yesterday Sufyan engaged in his first ever bona fide mischief.  We baked 2 beautiful loaves of bread together, Sufyan adding flour as I kneaded the dough, and then Sufyan tasting the dough, and tasting the dough, and asking to taste the dough again.  When the bread was ready, we took pictures!

Nice bread, Sufyan

Sufyan, wait until it's cool and THEN we can have a bite. Please don't poke it or put a hole in it.

He kept asking me to give him a bite, and I kept telling him it would be cool in a few minutes.  So I gave him a little piece from the crust and then another and then we set them out to cool.  He asked me over and over if he could poke it, to have just a “little LITTLE liiiiiittle bite”.  So we talked about waiting, and he agreed to wait, and I left the room…well, you have to know Sufyan to know there is no doubt that when he says he will not do something he Will. Not. Do. It.  That’s just him.  Until…


He walked up to me in the other room, and said quietly, “Dig tunnels in the bread?”   “What?  What, baby?  What…do….you………mean…..?” Well, the poor kid.  I clapped my hands over my ears and said, “Oh NO!  Sufyan what did you do?”  and he immediately was climbing my legs and hugging me and saying he didn’t mean to do it! and I crouched down and he climbed into my lap and hugged me and kissed me.  He was totally upset.  I have to admit I thought the whole thing was a bit hilarious and I tried not to let him see me holding back laughter.  I mean, LOOK AT THE BREAD!  But I also wanted to cry.  I mean, LOOK AT THE BREAD! So my thought on mischief, just for my son, is good for him.  Sufyan is so reasonable about things, so entirely trustworthy.  It’s about time.  And he was so upset!  We hugged, I asked him if he knew what happened and if he understood why I was sad about our bread, and he did and that was that.  “I will not do that again, Mama.”  And for me, it was a very sweet moment.  I hope I can handle other things as calmly and lovingly, but in case things aren’t always this clear (and don’t we all know they won’t be) I hope we are starting off with trust.  I want him to trust that if I find out about some thing he did “wrong”, I will not automatically punish him.   After all, this is a marathon we are running (God willing).  Not a sprint.


2 thoughts on “UN 194 and all’s well so far. Also swim suit hatred.

  1. Yay for UN 194! Glad everything is quiet in your neighborhood too! After reading the article you linked to, I wondered if you ever encounter any suspicion in Palestine being an American (who’s government is on the side of Israel)? Or do you pretend to be Canadian? Or do the kids look Palestinian enough that it isn’t noticed?
    I totally laughed when I imagined both your and Laila’s swim suits! So NOT you! Ha ha! And mischieviously digging tunnels in the bread is SO NOT Sufyan! But kinda funny and cute all the same. 🙂 Miss you guys!

  2. The butt of my swimsuit says, “Hoochy Mama.” Just thought that might make you feel better.
    Kidding. Really great to hear about UN 194!!!
    Also, sounds like Sufyan and Elliot share the same trustworthy quality. It’s so nice to know that they are going to do what they say and be careful and mindful (AMAZING for 3.5 year olds).
    So, the bread thing, I get that. E recently had a mischievous moment to–forgetting it at the moment, but I handled it basically as you did.
    Glad you had a good day at the pool and that great yard!

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