Monday, 21 December 2009

Al Ain

There are times I truly love living where I live, in the Middle East, in a small and peaceful city, in a small, quiet flat. Tonight was one of those times. I opened the door out to my newly swept courtyard and looked up to see a new moon rising gloriously in the sky, the clear, crisp sky. There was a slight breeze wafting over the wall. The dust has settled with the recent rain, a calmness after the mad heat of summer.

The call to prayer started close to me then echoing from across town came calls from other mosques. There's something special about the call, something that resonates, something about the way our neighbours wander down to the mosque to pray all the while chatting with each other. After prayer they sit and chat some more, peacefully. The shoes at the door attest to the amount of men inside, for the mosque is the domain of men.

We live amongst many expat men, mostly from the east and the Middle East, men often away from their families working in this place to give their families the financial support they need. They work driving our taxis, packing our groceries, selling us our fruit and veg, serving us in shops and hotels, working on the roads and buildings, guarding us in our schools, driving our school buses, fixing our internet and computers. They also shop at the same shops, the local supermarket, the corner shop. I suspect they are used to us in their neighbourhood as they no longer stare and some even nod in greeting.

Some have gotten to know us a little and chat when we see them. Our corner shop man is one of those, the fruit and vege man in the supermarket and Khalil at our local restaurant others. Tonight I went back to the supermarket to get some more of the lovely pumpkin I made into soup last night, the fruit and vege man smiled at me buying such a lot and commented that it was very good pumpkin. It certainly is.

People often say to me that it must be great living here, very exotic. Yes, that's true it's very different, perhaps exotic but the what makes it special is the ordinary stuff, the amazingly ordinary stuff that makes life worthwhile. Small things like being able to get the pumkin needed to make good soup, like being greeted by your neighbours, like being able to sit outside with all the doors and windows open listening to the happenings in the neighbourhood, like having a good book and crisp white joining you.

PS (A PS so as not to spoil the mood) I got an impressive burn while making the soup. The stick mixer thingy went out of control and splashed me with boiling soup. That'll teach me for making soup when very hungry and not waiting for it to cool before mixing. I ate it one handed, ice on the other. The blisters were impressive, the soup delish.

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