(note: the time stamp of all posts and comments on this blog is the time in umm el-fahem, israel)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

saturday, 29 october 2011

i physically will leave umm el-fahem: the gallery and my new friends and acquaintances, in a day and a half. but the connections are strong with a whole lifetime ahead to grow and, we all hope, bear witness to the success of Said, et. al.'s efforts.

i regret that i have not posted more frequently. i will use photos as the story line to post below, as usual in no particular order.

[NOTE: i will use another post to speak about the work that i have done here]:

the first two images below are large sculptures of household objects representative of welcoming guests and family members into one's home. they are on the road from the junction into umm el-fahem.
 the road/walk from the junction (highway) into the center of umm el-fahem/the gallery is about 1.4 miles (2.4 km). for a new yorker this is about 28 blocks, a daily routine. walking toward the junction from the gallery/our apt. is downhill. coming back up is thus uphill. however, not just uphill. UPHILL! the pull of gravity begins
a bit after the road splits -- go to the left and it is "main street" with cars vying for parking with other vehicles and pedestrians, stores, bodywork garages, restaurants and local fast food eateries (mac donalds and pizza hut are in one of the small mall buildings between the junction and the center of town).

go to the right, up to the gallery, and each step is as rich an experience as any fancy work-out machine. and so we go to the right instead of continuing left where we could instead simply walk into a large (all is relative) building housing google's offices, a bank, two different chupat cholim medical clinics, etc., take the elevator to the fifth floor and walk out to the street where the gallery is located. an even greater challenge occurs when we are carrying bakbookim (bottles) of soda water. sometimes we take the elevator up to our apt. on the third level from the street level but we still feel that we have done our daily exercise.

(note: while muscles formerly unused are getting used to the workout our bodies are fueled with delicious edibles in amounts also not customarily consumed at home. in the weight department nothing lost but also hopefully nothing gained.)
follow the car above right up to the gallery.

for almost three weeks i have walked by what i was certain was a bakery but confused by the lack of the unmatchable aroma of freshly baked bread. thursday afternoon i popped in. the two women who were working spoke arabic. we know what i speak and we all spoke a bit of hebrew. i found out that the baking begins at midnight and the machines are closed down at 10am, 7 days a week. so this morning i was up and out in time to watch the pita, as it turned out, being baked. it smelled yummy and i bough a sack of 12 or 13 "pitot" the smallest amount possible to purchase.

since i am back into talking about the local food i will share images from two parties joanna and i were invited to yesterday, friday 10/28.

the first was a family celebration welcoming month old achmed, third son of said's sister alia's daughter byan. byan's husband's family owns
the market is in the Abu Dagash building about half way down the road to the junction (highway). it is a brand new building housing a mini-mall -- in addition to the meat market, an italian restaurant, a cafe, clothing stores, a large orange cell service provider store, a name brand, expensive, eye glasses frames store, and a number of still empty store fronts. the meat is reputed to be THE best and for the celebration the women in the family made special spiced meat patties that were grilled with the usual lamb chops, and kabobs. the tables were laden with salads AND french fries!

women and men sat separately during the luncheon. we arrived later than most as siham, said's wife, mother of ruwan, was shopping to purchase items to set up ruwan's new apt. sat., today. they will be 5 apt-mates in university housing, the hebrew univ. of jerusalem. housing seems to be arab students with arab students, jewish with jewish, at least in the first year when the university makes the matches. ruwan who at 17 1/2 years old is totally comfortable in the company of all others told me when i inquired that she is happy that this was the case because  she will feel more at home living with other arab -- female -- students. she is the youngest but no doubt she will hold her own.

back to the party: there was a person in a clown costume as the m.c. for the kids, many quite young children. the hokey pokey, simon says, ... are the same all over the world. later we moved to the dessert and catch-up-with-family-members area & one of alia's sons began taking the boys (no matter how the girls pleaded for their turns) on speedy rides standing up on a hand truck, to the dismay of some of the mothers but to the total delight of the squealing children.

for dessert there were sticky, sweet pastries (but knowing that we were going to a dessert send-off party for ruwan at said and siham's at 5pm i did not have dessert although i did have a few sips of thicker-than-usual turkish coffee)

the weather was glorious and we stayed long enough for siham to catch-up on family goings on. while joanna and i missed most of what was being said the environment was warm and welcoming and being outside was delicious, listening to fabulous arab music a pleasure.

the weather:
       i had occasion to see the mini-blizzard in nyc today (29 october 2011, around 11am in nyc) when david and i skyped and he took the computer to the window
here it continues to be in the mid to high 70s Fahrenheit, going down to the low 60s F in the evenings.

desserts friday evening, 10/28

a gathering and sweets in honor of ruwan who would leave on sat., today, 10/29, to begin her first year of studies in the department of education (studying special education) at the hebrew university in jerusalem.

Said and Siham have 5 children: the eldest, a daughter is doing her PhD at McGill in clinical psych, the next, a son, is studying architecture in munich, the next, a daughter who i had the pleasure to meet, is studying dentistry in jordon, and the youngest, a sophomore in high school, knows that his field of study will be astronomy/space studies.
 above: Said, Siham, Ruwan
 above, Siham and Said (and the maple walnut cake still warm from the oven).
 Said writes each of his children a letter when they leave for school, something that no doubt will treasure more with each passing year.
 Lilah, far right, and Siham look on as Ruwan opens her presents.
 Joanna takes down the translation of the recipe for the chocolate walnut cake with cream filling. Center, Kamle, with Ruwan.
 Ruwan is enjoying herself.
 Above and below: Far left, Kamle, center Ruwan, & scd
 i am not posting a number of photos with others in them out of respect to the fact that they contain images of iman, a lovely young woman who does not want photos of herself floating around the web.

fearing a crash any moment i shall post this now as an installment with more anon.

oh, wait, one last thing. friday night we had the treat of viewing the video of  the engagement party of the second daughter, the dental student (i do not have the correct spelling of the names, and do not want to mangle them).

what a party. hours of dancing, first just the women of the future bride's family. then joined by the women of the future groom's family, then the men from both sides join the women. the dancing never stopped (3-4 hours) and when it did it was for the engaged couple to exchange rings and then accept gifts of incredible jewerly from  almost everyone there.

protocol of traditions/of the event reigned. if anyone ate it was not while the video was being shot (hours worth. we watched some of the party/the dancing fly by at high speed). women were dressed in everything from very traditional to quite revealing outfits. variations in head scarf styles seem infinite, some must have gone to scarf beauticians as headscarves were transformed into intricate and beautiful flower-like knots.

the guiding rules for headscarves: no hair showing, no ears showing, no neck showing. otherwise, as stylish or not as one chooses, and make-up runs from none to heavily applied. a noticible similarity between many orthodox women who wear sheitels and many orthodox muslim women who wear headscarves is while they are only to show their hair and beauty to their husbands the wigs and headcoverings are selected with great care and style.

the men all had on white shirts, ties and dark pants, the shirt and pants are (at least historically) standard israeli menswear for such occasions, but the ties set these israeli-arabs apart from jewish israeli men. (oh, and i only noticed one guy wearing jeans.)

the engagement party was held in Said and Siham's home (outside) and it was a family-only event. we all sat on the comfortable furniture cushions, there for over an hour clapping to the beat, entranced by the music, the dancing, the clothing, the whole experience. joanna and i ar still not clear though it has been explained, about the engagement and the wedding traditions. it seems that there must be an engagement (which means an exchange of rings among the other jewelry given, much of it gold and diamonds) in order for the couple to go out in public together without a chaperone. the wedding is a private religious ceremony followed by a party. it seems that the engagement is the required public notice and the wedding party simply a reason to have a party, but ... not sure.
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