To the bank of mum and dad.
My old room no longer exists; I had to sleep in the spare room!! I was woken up by someone snoring on the bed next to me, assuming it was my sister; I ignored it until come morning I found the next bed empty! When I told my mum she smiled and told me it was nothing to worry about! Spooky!
Ghosts apart, I planned to have two uneventful weeks in Algeria, just sleep, eat, relax and try not to pile on the weight.
My friend Reda and his friend Fifi (short for Malika – whaaa?) suggested we watch a movie, aired by the Chrysalide Ciné Club, entitled Normal by Merzak Allouache, it talks about the disillusion of the Algerian people, exposes corruption and bureaucracy, and it was playing at the local cinema in Ryad el Feth, happy days!
Weather was nice, sun was shining, dust flying, my black shoes look now beige, Fifi is driving, quick introductions, Fifi talks fast and non stop, she drives without really looking at the road, she incessantly touches her hair and doesn’t seem to have a care in the world, I envy her happiness, lightness and non-OCD behaviour!
The old banger (the car not the girl) looks like it belongs in the museum, yet Fifi is talking about buying an AUDI A3, she doesn’t stop, rants, cries, the equivalent of £23,000 in cash are ready for the transaction she says, we can’t get hold of the lady selling it, the girl brakes down in tears “I am so unlucky, why is my luck so shit”, she doesn’t fail to mention that she lives on her own and what she does for a living to remind me that she’s not totally vacuous…
Whatever made you think I am interested honey, I am only here for the weather.
Traffic is heavy, after what felt like an eternity of inhaling fumes, we make it to the origin of the problem, I felt privileged, how many times do you ever get to the origin of traffic congestion?
Riots break out in the neighbourhood!
Inhabitants of the popular area of Salembier are rising up against the social re-housing procedures and the shortages of social housing, the social estate of Salembier was being moved somewhere else to make room for more business centres with glass facades presumably and revenue making commercial properties, but the future-ex-tenants are the last to know, I feel sorry for them, “yes but they’re getting properties for free” Reda notes but they riot because they want a three bedroom not a two, because they have seven children and no jobs! Fifi baffled “what the hell are you doing making seven children when you don’t have a job?” but she quickly remembers her own problems “I am so unlucky” she says, “why does everything happen to me”.
Roads are barricaded with tyres and bricks, riot police stopped traffic, we’re in it, Fifi driving and still moaning about her bad luck, she can’t get the car she wants, her mattress is uncomfortable from so much dosh stashed in it, she touches her hair every other sentence, she hits a motorbike, the biker and his passenger get stuck between the old banger and another older banger (Algeria is the open air museum of automobile antiquities), he punctures her freaking tyre with his something or rather, he apologised, huh? Yeah apparently it was his fault! Whatever, I don’t care whose’ fault it is, I just want to get off the death mobile.
Traffic comes to a halt, people get off their cars and start trying to entangle the motorbike from the old banger, the motobike drivers’ leg is stuck, he’s screaming, the old banger is worried about her car, she’s screaming at him; she almost slaps his leg because it’s in the way of her life! by now five cars in each direction are empty, they’re all around us trying to shift the car with me still in it.
We manage to free the leg (big thighs), the tyre is sliced open, I am scared of Fifi and make myself scarce in the back of the old banger (not an easy job I tell you), we hobble to the nearest vulcanisator, she’s still ranting about her damn Audi A3, “I am so unlucky” she cries, of course all I cared about was not missing the movie.
“When the tyre is fixed, we’re going to get my Audi”
Movie cancelled, no one can get through to the cinema, but Reda promises we’ll watch it before I leave…
When your tyre is fixed, I want to go home please and thanks, as for the movie, frankly, Merzak Allouache eat your heart out, you might have filmed it, but I just lived it.
Dz-Chick…can’t wait to move back to Algeria!
Movie and Cine Club info: