Forget ice-cream – there’s no electricity for the fridge, so it’s melted. Going to a shop to buy some doesn’t help – you walk in the door and slide several feet in the melt-water from their fridge, almost taking out the shelf of packet-food you grab to steady yourself. You’ll have to settle for a warm bottle of something sickly-sweet, because they don’t even bother stocking ice-cream anymore, and the water is all sold out.
The donkey-drawn vegetable cart outside has a pile of cool green cucumbers, and blazing red tomatoes – gazpacho comes to mind, so you buy a kilo of each. You rush back home trying to get there ‘on the hour’ to catch the elevator during it’s five minutes of operation, mentally calculating what else you need and dismissing it because if it’s the choice between a fresh red pepper and a ten-floor hike in this heat, the pepper loses.
You make it. Dumping the bags on the bench, you go to the fridge and draw back at the musty smell that emanates from within. You can’t figure it out – it can’t be the butter, that melted and had to be thrown out days ago. The cheese left of its own accord the day after. The wizened lemons wouldn’t smell like that, nor the bottle of soy sauce – and there’s not much else left in there.
You open the vegetable crisper and get out an onion that is miraculously still crispish, and the red pepper that looks more like a sun-dried tomato – but hey, it’s going to be liquidised anyway.
The recipe suggests a couple of slices of french bread. In the absence of such a luxury, you open the freezer to get out some pita. You almost fall over backwards – THAT is where the smell is coming from. The precise source is best left undisturbed. The bread, despite being inside a plastic bag, is soggy and wet. You take a piece into your bedroom and set it on the sill in the sun.
Back in the kitchen you chop garlic, the onion, the wrinkly pepper, a couple of cucumbers and the tomatoes and toss them in the blender. Uh oh, no electricity.
You go into the next room and check for the indicator light in the fuse-box – have they turned the generator on yet? Yes! Last month, you bit the bullet and had cables installed to connect you to the neighbour’s generator – for a flat rate per month of only seven times the municipality rate per kw, plus more for whatever extra you use over that allowance, he promised a continuous supply, except for when the grid is on (two hours a day) and one hour for it to rest – even generators get tired in this heat. But that was the soft-sell – in reality it comes on randomly, sometimes at the same time as the grid – but often not at all, for days on end…
When the electrician came to connect you up, and put in a light so you could see in the kitchen as well as use your laptop and internet, he offered to connect a wall power-point too. As you carry the blender into your bedroom and unplug the bedside lamp to plug it in, you congratulate yourself on his foresight.
After a few minutes whizzing, you get the now-dry and brittle bread off the sill, and go back to the kitchen for the vinegar and olive oil to drizzle in. You remove the little cap from the blender lid and start it up – and your sheet turns into a Jackson Pollock as the contents spray out.
Undeterred, you pour half into a bowl, and do it in two stages, using two bowls – something you should have done from the beginning because you knew it was too full, but you wanted to save on dishes because there is no water to wash them with because two hours of power a day is not enough for the water pump to fill the roof tanks….
Back to the kitchen – the bed must wait until there is electricity and water sufficient to do a load of laundry…….
You add the salt and pepper, adjust the seasonings – and now all that is left to do is….chill it for several hours.
The one thing you cannot run off a generator is a fridge – even if you could somehow lug it into your bedroom to plug it in.
You decide that warm gazpacho is actually very tasty.
And that sleeping on the one square foot of clean sheet left really is perfectly bearable…
Not that I have been anywhere except Gaza since my last post – the Israeli-Egyptian siege has seen to that. Helped by being barefoot, because my shoes were pinched from the mosque…. which is what I am writing about today.
Not the theft of my shoes in particular, but the desperation that it represents.
Honesty is not just the best policy, but it is pretty fundamental to Islam, and something that is taken very seriously. The sanctity of the mosque, Ramadan, and Jummah even more so.
Which is why it is a telling measure of just how difficult life has become in Gaza, that people are resorting to stealing shoes from the mosque.
Sure there have always been such occasional thefts – but not on the scale they are now occurring.
Three members of one family I know have had their shoes vanish on different days in the past month, from the same mosque in an impoverished neighbourhood of Gaza City. Mine disappeared from there also. There wasn’t even a pair left behind that I could wear home!!
Yesterday, it was the father’s turn to arrive home barefoot after the Jummah prayer.
An indication of just how desperate the people taking them are, is that with the exception of mine, which were relatively new, the stolen shoes have all been old and well-worn – hardly the target of a sophisticated thief, but more like the desperate act of someone perhaps figuring that the owner, being able to afford a pair in the first place and given they were almost worn out, would just have to buy a new pair a bit earlier, thus keeping two people shod.
Because for sure the shoes they stole were not going to be on-sold for a profit, or to dance up a storm – none of them were good enough for that.
Their fate was more likely to trudge the streets selling tissues, or to try to get work as a labourer, or to carry their sick child to the hospital.
I harbour the secret hope that maybe someone is stockpiling them, for when pompous international politicians and ‘peace-makers’ visit……
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After I was chosen for a week summer school in New York from among more than 15,000 applicants -yes, more than 15,000 applicants-, I got jubilant to the extent that I couldn’t study for my final exams. I got so happy that I unvoluntarily kissed my brother before even telling him that I was chosen; I rushed and kissed my parents and my little brother as well. I promised my little brother to buy him the best gift I could get from the U.S.
My friends, my true ones, were so happy that I got such an opportunity of lifetime. I planned to have sheets on which my friends’ names to be written and to picture these sheets on front of the Stature of Freedom- I don’t know why I just smiled mockingly while typing “Freedom”.
As soon as I was done with my exams, I started the long process…
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The Ministry of Health in Gaza reports the following statistics as at 2200 hours on Monday July 21, 2014.
Deaths: 558 – 149 children, 53 women 18-60 years, 28 persons over 60 years
Injuries: 3,504 – 1,100 children, 608 women 18-60 years, 144 over 60 years.
ICU: 104 patients (more…)
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