Friday, October 1, 2010

Further stories from the Medina besides my pending nuptuals

1.)  I was waiting for the train to take into the city yesterday and I noticed that this guy kept walking back and forth in front of me.  I didn't think too much of it except that he was wearing a Members Only jacket.  Rad.  A train started to pull in and everyone got up to the edge and it just kept on going and everyone walked back to their spots in the shade like it happens all the time.  I feel like back home this would have incited angry protests.  And a letter writing campaign.  And possibly a rumble.  As I am not the rumbling type, and I left my fisticuffs at home, I went back to my seat and started writing in my journal (Oh, I am totally that girl.  The one who sits all pensive and dreamy-like in public places writing deep prose in her journal.  Gag, I know.  But true.)  And the guy started his walking again.  I thought that maybe he had resless leg syndrome or something.  I was busy writing when another train was pulling up and didn't notice so the guy walked over to me and said (I'm guessing here, as it was in Arabic) "The train is here."  So I smiled and said thanks (I'm really hoping that's what he said.  For all I know I could have thanked him for saying, "Hey, Journal Girl, those pants make your butt look huge.")  When I got on the train he was already on and hovering over a seat and when he saw me he moved aside and offered it to me.  Nice, right?  But again, I didn't think much of it.  Until the next stop when I saw that he had gotten off.  How do I know this?  Because he was standing next to my window waving to me.  Not a frantic, "You're fly is down" wave (although maybe that's what he was saying to me on the platform) but more of a "Good-bye friend," kind of wave.  And then the train started moving and he walked along with it until the platform ran out, waving the whole time.  I waved back, a little mystified by the whole thing but charmed none the less.

2.)  I found the textile section of the Medina.  Including a yarn store. 

Did you think that I wouldn't?  They didn't have a wide selection but what they did have was nice.  You pay by the kilo and it's super cheap.  Do you know how much a kilo of yarn is?  It's approximately a whole lot of yarn.  So the guy was a little disappointed when I asked for a quarter kilo.  Here, go ahead and figure out how to act out "quarter kilo".  It is not easy.  I made up for it by buying more yarn.  And I plan on going back.  They weigh it out using a scale and actual weights.  It's very old worldsy.  These were the nice fellas who helped me out.

Mr. Guy on the Right refused to smile so I had to make a silly face at him.  Worked like a charm.

3.)  This is Rambo.

Well, that's what he kept calling himself.  He owned a jewelry shop and he caught me looking at some of his stuff on a booth he had a few feet from his shop and he walked me over to it to see more goods.  On the way over he kept introducing me to everyone.  Except that he never asked me my name.  So he called me Shakira.  I haven't figured out why.  "Hey, Mohammed, this is my new friend Shakira."  "Shakira, this is my brother."  His jewelry looked like everyone else's but he and his brother were hilarious.  They come from a family of 10 and we swapped big family stories.  I was in their shop for about 45 minutes and left with some nice pieces and when I walked back a few hours later on my way out they were hanging around with a bunch of other shop keepers and they all yelled out, "Shakira!"

4.)  I'm sure you thought it was just a stereotype of the Arab world, but it's actually true...they wear harem pants here. 

I've seen loads of them in all different fabrics.  Denim even.  If I didn't think they would make me look round and stumpy and all together ridiculous I would get a pair because they look really comfy.

5.)  The last time I was in the Medina it was Ramadan so all the restaurants were closed.  But this time I walked by a restaurant/hooka bar.  It was in a covered alley way so it was dark and mysterious and there were about 20 men sitting in the alley smoking their water pipes and drinking coffee.  It was classic.  I wanted to get a picture but I was afraid the flash would kill the vibe.

6.)  I have done very little eating-out here and it has always been with someone else so I suppose I wasn't prepared for the amount of work it would be to get some lunch.  But I was famished so on my way back to the train station (and before I met my Berber date farmer boyfriend) I stopped at a shwarma place.  Have I mentioned shwarmas?  Gosh, they're good.  They're the ultimate arab street food.  It's basically a burrito with Mediterranean spices.  But I've heard that it's hit or miss.  Mine was a miss.  But before I found that out it took me forever just to get it.  The place was a mad house and no one spoke even a little English and it eventually took about 30 minutes to get it.  But I had a moment in the mean time.  Because I do a lot of solo stuff I have missed the part of traveling with friends where you see something funny and you give each other the look.  You know that look, like they recognized it and you'll talk about it for years after.  I almost always have someone around me who gets it back home.  So whenever I see or experience something funny I always look around to see if anyone caught it.  No one has so far.  Until the shwarma place.  There were about 7 guys working the stand and 1 woman.  The men were all hustling around, ignoring people and just yelling at each other.  Just ordering and paying the guy at the register took about 10 minutes because he kept yelling at all the other workers.  So at one point I looked over at the one woman and she was looking at me with the Look.  She totally smirked and rolled her eyes, as if to say, "Men.  What are you gonna do?"  And suddenly I felt like all was right in the world.   I sipped on my Orangina (how much do I love that they sell Orangina here like they sell water.  It's everywhere) and waited out the rest of the 20 mintues in peace. 

7.)  This post is already waaaaaaay too long so I'm going to skip the stories about the Arabic lesson I got and my attempt to meet the Prime Minister.  Gee, this is fun. 


FabuLeslie said...

I'm really loving reading about your travels! And hooray for girl power all around the world!! We are a sisterhood of the traveling harem pants, and you and that lady just proved it.

Chris and Gina said...

We'd like some physical descriptions added to these characters. Are the men who approach you crusty and old, or young and Rambo-like? Thanks for all the stories!

The Katzbox said...

Wow...these are so great! I am totally seeing all of this played out in my head as I read it. And now, I'm hungry for a food that I don't even know existed 5 minutes ago. You are powerful.

I want to go there so badly. I'm deadly serious abou(after something happens to the mama) and I think I want to do it somewhere over in them thar parts.

More more more more more more more. Your posts are NEVER too long.

Thanks, Shakira. And personally, I would wear those harem pants all day. They look comfy.

Stephanie said...

I want a shwarma. You're going to have to learn how to recreate them and then post recipes.

I also want to see a hooka bar. Just to say "When I was in Tunis at a hooka bar . . . "

Chris said...

OK, here are my thoughts.

First, your waving story reminded me of our trip on the KC Jr. train at Disneyland. Remember how the guy in the boat kept waving at you. I think you must in some way be irresistable to wavers.

Second, I'm sure Rambo called you Shakira because your hips don't lie.

Thanks, Rachel. Keep the stories coming.

Rach said...

You can never say you haven't been in a romantic train situation with a man waving you away now. So awesome.

Please buy some harem pants. If I knew where to find some, I'd wear to Jacob's soccer games, just to mix things up. Who says soccer moms can't be exotic?

The Look. It's what keeps life from making your head explode. It's especially helpful to have someone around for The Look at places like the airport and the post office. And the Schwarma place.

teresa p said...

I think you'd totally rock the harem pants. Thanks for the yarn photos. I love them :)