I asked if I could wash off, if my friend had a pair of track pants I could wear. His sister came down with a track-suit and towel, and led me to the bathroom. “Shampoo?” she’d asked. “No, thanks, I just want to rinse off,” I explained.
Coming out of the shower, I thought I could sneak by the sisters and mother, hide the fact I’d not brought flip-flops to lounge in. Within seconds one sister’s sandals were off. She, barefoot, handed them to me to wear.
“No,” said another, clucking disapproval, “those are like boats. Bring the black sandals.” The younger sister flitted off. I shuffled off anyway, but soon after the younger, still barefoot, sister re-appeared with the black sandals.
She then set out cleaning off my friend’s desk, “so you can work well.”
Computer space cleared, she poured a new cup of tea and a glass of cold water. “To keep you fresh,” she said.
I turned on my computer, began sifting through files. Knock, knock. The older sister re-appeared with a plate of finger cookies: “to help you work,” she said, beaming.
Another visit saw a table laden with the basic available foods: simple vegetables, rice and grape leaves, oil, bread. Simple but delicious fare…which 80% of Gazans can’t afford
*olive oil doused with chili sauce, artfully decorated with some of the few vegetables that are plentiful in Gaza: tomatoes and cucumbers
*wara’ eneb: stuffed grape leaves (meat excluded, a nod to their veg guest)
*appreciating the unique intensity of flowers’ colours
*although unbearably hot in Gaza nowadays, the trees are flowering in the most extraordinary reds and pinks.