*How my day ended yesterday.
Not having looked out of my building’s stairs windows in quite a while, yesterday I finally noticed the flattened neighbouring multi-storey building. During the Israeli attacks on Gaza this winter, I only a few times slept in my building, staying instead at the Red Crescent office, or at the hospitals, or at the news agency building.
The afternoon was a little nicer.
I’d gone to Saha, to see how people were preparing for Ramadan. And despite hearing what I’d expected to hear –on the effects of the siege, war, unemployment… of life in Gaza and that Ramadan would be far from special and lovely this year –I had a number of very nice encounters.
And some amusing ones.
I don’t quite understand who this figure is yet, nor if he is actually meant to be comical.
I entered a sweets shop to speak with the owner about Ramadan treats and whether people were buying. One of the employees took me around, showing me the favourites at Ramadan: Kanafe Nablusi (a cheesey sweet concoction from Nablus), Kanafe Arabi (prized for the walnuts and raisins within), and Coolege (a puff pastry and sweet cheese dessert).
We got a bit off topic, delving instead into the making of the pastry itself. The sweets use two types of pastry: a puff-pastry type and one more like Phyllo pastry. I was impressed to learn that both are manufactured in Gaza, the ingredients being fairly basic.
My interest in their work and the topic of Ramadan led, of course, to an insistent invitation to join the staff in the shop for iftaar (breaking fast) some time during Ramadan. And another invitation to join their family at home another night.
Earlier, Abu Hossam at the fruit stand, likewise claimed me for a night with his family, telling me to come any night.
I stopped in a small shop on the way home and got chatting with the owner, who tried to let me take all of my purchases without paying him (this is the 2nd time he’s tried this). Instead, I said, I’ll have tea with you sometime (meaning his family, not a date). Thrilled he told me tea wasn’t enough, that I had to join them for iftaar during Ramadan.
Sultan, his wife and their kids were out when I got back to the building. Our dinner, too, will be a Ramadan dinner.
As I settled down to write and read the news, Mahfouz, a friend, called to ask why it’d been so long since I visited his family. The only way to appease him was to promise to drop in soon. Great, he said, you can break fast with us. Mahfouz –actually his wife–laid out quite the spread for my colleagues and I at Christmas, although they are not Christian.
As I began anew to read, a text from a friend asking how things were going, and would I join his family for Ramadan.
I’ve made a list, to accommodate all of these good-will gestures from strangers and friends.
Ramadan fasting officially begins tomorrow (the mufti announced it), so my first meal will be with dear friends in Ezbet Abed Rabbo, Jabaliya.
[SPEAKING OF DATES…SA Calls to Boycott Israeli Dates This Ramadan ]
*a man was clearing the area around his building of tree trimmings.
*late night wedding parade, seen from my rooftop.