Went out this evening for coffee and cake - very unlike me, since am not into sweets at all.
The last time I had anything sweet like an ice cream was about a month ago. I bought a cup and would take one spoonful every other day. The cup lasted me a month.
A friend remarked - why buy ice cream in the first place if this is how you approach it ?
I just like the taste in small doses - was my reply.
Too much sweetness makes me nauseous. This applies to people as well. People who are too sweet all the time, too nice, too pleasant, too ... give me indigestion. It is not the sweetness that bothers me, it is the "too much" which almost always turns out to be FAKE. And I can't stand fake people.
Those exaggerated extra niceties are 9 times out 10 false and with people like these, I am sure they will stab you in the back when you least expect it.
Anyway, I went to this café with Zayd, now that Ramadan is over, I felt no guilt indulging in public eating and drinking...
Well, I've been feeling guilty for the past 30 days, for not fasting, so I thought I'd give myself a break this evening - a guilt free evening. I had a small pastry and a cappuccino. They don't know how to make a good cappuccino here. I always get stomach colic afterward, and I promise myself never again, but I am not too good with promises made to self.
Zayd seemed to be in a bit of a rush, but it was nice to feel "human" again, after a period of total abstinence, abstinence from bumming around in cafés - which I must admit is a pass time I enjoy, because this is when I get to do most of my serious thinking and observing...
So Zayd needed to head home and I wanted to stay on. So I did. As I turned my head to call the waiter (who kept ignoring me) for about the 25th time -- for another cappuccino, (I must be a masochist of some sorts) who do I see, sitting alone ? none but Yasser.
Yasser is a Palestinian, originally from Gaza. He's been living here for some years and we had met in some conference. I got to meet his family as well, very nice people. Yasser was alone, with a huge chocolate fudge in front of him. He saw me, waved and made a sign "come over". So I grabbed my cup and we chatted for about an hour.
Yasser told me he had developed Diabetes, "nerves" he said, "all because of nerves from the news" I stared at his fudge. He motioned with his hand and said :
- Wallah it's good, do you want some ? I am eating this piece for the whole family back in Gaza.
- Everything has become very rare and expensive there, I know, because everything is smuggled through tunnels. Can you imagine over 125 people died in those tunnels...
- Yes and you know what else ? Hamas takes a 7% commission tax on each load of goods smuggled and this is another reason why the prices shot up.
- Well, there is the siege.
- Yes the siege and the commissions. It has become unlivable. Did you hear about the new Fatwa. (religious ruling)
- Which Fatwa, the one about mannequins having to be veiled, lest they titillate lust in the viewer ?
- Nooo, what mannequins, this is nothing.
Hear this --a woman cannot go alone to the beach anymore. She needs a "muhram" (a male companion who is either her husband or a member of her family).
- You mean she can't swim alone ?
- What swim alone, in a bathing suit ?
Yasser laughed hard...
- I am talking about going to the beach for a stroll fully veiled...not swimming in a bathing suit. It is all because of these bloody Iranians and Israelis. They are behind all of this.
- How so ?
- Well who is benefiting the most from the current Palestinian impasse but the Iranians and the Israelis. You know, some of the Palestinians used to complain about Yasser Arafat, eh wallah his shoe was better than all of them. Sure he had faults, but there were red lines not to be transgressed, there was a vision of where and how the movement should move. Look at them now, Hamas on one side and Abu Mazen and company on the other, they have harmed so much the Palestinian Resistance.
- Yes, I know...look at Iraq.
- Iraq ? Ya Habibee ala Saddam. They understood that Saddam had a global vision and policy for the region, they thought to themselves, this man has to go - his time is up. Now Iraq is finished...Iran and Israel took over.
- Do you think we are all finished for good, I mean, you and I ?
- It's a storm, another 10 years or so of major instability. But I have faith, I know my people...they will not succumb to Israel or Iran.
Yasser gave me some hope, a sweet hope...but I was not to sure I could say the same with as much conviction...about us.
Yet, I find myself still holding on to the sweetness of it...