nicer times 3

Part of a wedding celebration. Other parts include the procession through town, festive music blaring, boys and men hanging out of car windows or on top of flatbed trucks, dancing, reveling in the wedding or in a reason to celebrate.

While I’ve seen many of these, it never fails to bring a smile.

This afternoon, I left my flat, passing some of the flock of children who gather about that time daily, to kick the football in the courtyard or run up to shake my hand. Today they were busy, concentrating on adding soil to the potential lemon tree they hoped would grow. But they were too proud to just let me walk past without seeing their ingenuity.

“See, we’re growing a lemon tree,” the youngest said, pushing aside the thin layer of dirt and twigs he’d covered a whole lemon with.

Like kids everywhere.

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There are various extraordinary bushes and trees whose colour or unexpected fragrance catch me off guard.

Gaza’s Intact Antiquities:

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Wandering around old Gaza city with a friend from the Khan Younis region, we came across one of Gaza’s older mosques. Studying the outside for quite a while, we were curious to see inside, but I wasn’t carrying a headscarf to don.  I wouldn’t think of entering without one, it’d be extremely disrespectful. A local merchant, hearing our discussion, appeared with a lovely, soft, new scarf for me to borrow.

“It’s from Saudi Arabia, when I went on pilgrimage,” he said. “It will give you a long life, it’s blessed!”

His thoughtfulness was appreciated, and I was able to go inside and see the leaping arches of what used to be  a cathedral, along with some lovely stained glass windows that impressively survived the window-shattering explosions of the war on Gaza. It was calm, only a couple of people praying, a soothing atmosphere in a busy district.

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From there, we walked on through the old Gaza district, wandering wherever the next corner or next domed roof inspired us to walk, my favourite way to explore.

We came to a museum, formerly a palace, that I’d walked past many times en route to Sheyjayee.  It was closed, but the guard didn’t mind us walking around the grounds to admire the building and dream of living in one of the top floor rooms…

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Street Art:

Going by a friend’s office to do some writing today, another friend was at work carving the rooftops of Al Quds, on a whim.  The shapes that took form indeed could have been from an old city like Jerusalem.  Interested, I flipped over the carving to see on the back side an unexpected pattern, almost like furniture.

“It’s from a bed frame,” he said matter of factly. “I found it on the street.”

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I later found him staring intently at something on the wall. My camera in hand, he set about photographing it in its slow progress.  The only kind of caterpillars I’ll ever like. The other kind: boycott it.

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After unexpectedly running into the same friend, with whom I joke about opening a falafel art shop in Canada [if ever he could get Israeli/Egyptian permission to leave and a visa to exit Gaza to study…], I came down the road to one of my falafel stops.

“You haven’t left Gaza yet?”

“No,” I answered, “I’m staying longer.”

Nawarti! You light up Gaza!”

Bojoodak! [I don’t actually know the translation of this! Just know it’s the response!!!] “

And so the banter frequently goes with Gazan hosts who welcome visitors to stay.

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