Wednesday 17 July 2013


Everybody in the office continue to be concerned about my lack of liquid ingestion, to the point of joking about my need to visit the bathroom, or rather lack of. What a liberty!!
Today I had my mid-year review at work, positive all around, great improvement since last year when I gave less of a shit, my boss thinks me capable of taking on more, in fact he used the word “increase your workload”  crazy anyone? Since it had been noted that I was seen on my mobile phone a couple of times and let’s not mention the blog, but that was blocked two years ago, for my own good they’ll have me believe. Ah if only I gave 2 shits about it!
At lunchtime (what lunchtime), I ventured out of the office to breath, away from this dust-filled, mite-infested, assumption-riddled office; but the sun was playing “you’re it” and I, not in mood for playing! Walked to the gym, had a shower and went back to the office, then somebody asked me if I was going to pray? Hello? Where did that come from?!
Me: “Do you believe in God?”
Idiot at work: euhhhhh “well yes , I do”
Me: “ok when was the last time you went to church”
Idiot at work: that’s a bit personal isn’t it?
Me: I rest my case.
Work has become like a minefield of religious policing and assumptions galore, if you leave your desk, you must be going to pray, everything you do, can be traced back to Ramadan, everything you wear, is due to Ramadan, if you’re reading a book, it can only be religious, if you’re wearing a skirt for a change, then it’s definitely Ramadan.
If you’re yawning, it’s Ramadan
If you’re sleepy, it’s Ramadan
If you’re quiet, it’s Ramadan
If you’re moody, it’s definitely Ramadan
If you talk on the phone, you’re talking about Ramadan
Enquiries are incessant, which can be nice if genuine, and as much as you love being the centre of …well everything, it gets a bit tedious, how many days now? Do you want a cup of …oh sorry! Is Ramadan Muslim? , You look tired, are you tired? Why do you fast*?
Sometimes, focused on a task or like me on a blog, you forget it’s even Ramadan, but they’re very quick to remind you, they want daily updates, they’ll ask the same questions over and over again, I find myself answering them whilst counting to ten, that’s talent right there!
Perhaps because some are curious, some try to be polite and some just don’t understand why you would freely** subject yourself to such cruelty, such pain and masochistic a ritual.
Damn you Channel 4 for announcing Ramadan! Why can’t they just ignore it like they do Shabbat hmm hmm? Why can’t they just leave it alone? Oh I know, because we’re practicing it on their turf! I read a very funny, to the point of ignorant comment this morning, explaining how it’s an aberration from Gods’ intention to punish Muslims for travelling too far north.
At work or anywhere else on this planet, if I don’t mention the word Ramadan, Ramadam, fasting, water or Hmmmm Coffee, then why should anybody feel the need to worry about my wellbeing, my starvation, my faith or lack of, equally for the self-righteous, the pious and the bored fasters who broadcast their practices to those who aren’t interested, haven’t you heard: Love, religion and salaries are private matters – get it and we’ll all live happy.

Dz-chick…if this sounds like déjà-vu, that’s probably ‘cos it is.
*why are you stupid?
** subject to terms country and conditions

Saturday 13 July 2013

Day 4: Nostalgia is a woman!

Was browsing through facebook...stalking really, what else is there to do on a Saturday in Ramadan! what did I do before? I can't remember!

I stumbled upon a friend's Nostalgic comment, and reading the replies from her male friends left me puzzeled, they cited "Tagine at the kiosk at la Grande Poste", "Sandwich Garantita a 2am by les 3 horloges in Bab el oued", "Sardines beddersa a Telemly" and many more little rituals and habits, that I don't recognise, I don't know of, it's different to telling the stories of what goes on at the ladies local hair salon and compare and laugh with its counterpart the Gents barber, but this is Nostalgia, although the souvenirs could be personal to each of us, the general landscape of it should be shared, agreed on, like sunny blue skies and white buildings, days at the beach, Lemon sorbet (kreponi if that's how it's spelt) and friendly albeit curious people, it shouldn't be gender specific.

Wondered why it is that girls and boys in Algeria hold different souvenirs of home, like we didn't live the same lives (yes same - socialism remember!), as if we didn't go to the same schools and beaches and went through the same war, or maybe our souvenirs are similar but not the same;
Then it hit me, girls and boys do live the same events, it's just the view or perhaps more appropriately, the viewing platform is what differs, boys whiteness it from the street, up and close whilst the girls view it perched up on the balconies and windows! sequestrated behind shutters, "sheltered" behind doors and veils.

A friend of mine in Algeria, used and still gets revolted by the fact she couldn't leave the house after a certain time of the evening, if she craved a Coke, she'll have no way of getting it, she'll have to lump it and swallow it, but she remarked that had her brother craved a Coke, he'd up and go an any time and get himself one! Who said girls can't go out after dark? who started this unwritten LAW! This very same law that makes my nostalgia diffident from my brothers'.

To be continued....I am hungry now!

Dz-chick...Ramadan and nostalgia don't mix well!*

*but I am fine, honest, I am fiiiiine

Thursday 11 July 2013

Day 2: Yes yes it's RamadaM, get over it!

Ramadan is ahead full steam, I am not, I am more like an old locomotive running out of coal but who keeps going on pure motion power.
My only problem with fasting is the non-stop yawning at my desk; I could sleep at any time.  I could actually close my eyes at my desk and fall asleep. The smell of coffee literally hurts me, anything else I don’t mind.

At work, you don’t talk about it; you don’t complain (we all do) openly about it, you’ll yawn openly and noisily though.
You don’t mention it’s Ramadan or that you’re fasting, you strive to keep it private, not let it be used against you in a situation where you’d hear the usual “you’re not focused”, or “you don’t have any energy”, or “bound to happen, you’re not eating” even on the smallest most common mistakes, you want to prove that fasting really doesn’t  affect your mental or physical abilities, that it doesn’t to a certain extent or time of day where your face has turned green and you could paper-cut with your tongue, that you are in fact Robocop.

A few comments that come back a lot like a bad smell, to count a few:  “not even water?”, “so, did you stuff your face last night?” and again “you can’t even drink water?”, “so only air then? And my favourite “oh jesus, is it RamdaM again?”

People seem to be concerned, about something, about you, about the job perhaps, or about witnessing a fast, some feel uncomfortable, others prefer not to know, either way, you are different and they don’t understand why you would willingly inflict that on yourself.
It plays as your cue to wake up, prove them wrong, be energetic and a little hypocritical.
Isn’t Ramadan hard enough as it is, without having a bunch of ignoramuses coming back with the same questions over and over again, you’re always reassuring them that the answers are the same from last year and no you are not moody because you aren’t eating, you’re moody because they’re being stupid. The end.

Dz-chick…no assumption, no consumption!*
*lame I know!

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Bring on the Kelbelouz!!

To commemorate the beginning of my 20thRamadan, I wanted to make a special “tribute” to everyone…

….Everyone, who starts Ramadan with a little bit of Alcohol in their system, those who replace alcohol with hashish, those who squat the mosques in their best robes trying to erase the year’s earthly decay, those who start praying and stop by the third day, or the 29th! Those who steal to pay for the holy month’s food requirement, those who behave like baboons because they’re going extinct, those who will travel away for 30 days so they don’t have to eat in hiding, those who will spend their alms at the Halal casino, those who judge, watch and scrutinise their neighbour to make sure they’re not suffering alone, those who will eat sushi instead of Chorba because it’s healthy, those who do it out of convention, and those who eat in hiding, those who fast in hiding to avoid judgment at work, those who don't want to explain why they froze their gym membership, those who will crack open the presecco the day of Eid, those who dedicate themselves to it religiously (no pun intended) and finally those who just don’t care.

Ramadan Kareem to all

Dz-Chick...cynical? Never!!!

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Chasing the Velvet

The sun was warm and gentle like a tender caress on my skin, the air was breezy, the sky azure, it felt as though I was floating through velvet, far from being poetic, this is exactly what I felt one summer day in Algiers. I played footy with my little nephew, well I passed the ball and he ran for it mostly screaming for it to stop.
Then we walked up the stairs to the Monument’s esplanade where a Book festival was taking place, there were a lot of people, but not too many that I’d feel crowded, just enough not to feel deserted.  A big gaming castle was erected for children on the side and parents were busy queuing, filming and encouraging their little ones. I hung out, people watching, waiting for the festival to start. I felt good, so good, too good, I couldn’t explain it, was it the velvet concoction of wind and sun on my skin or was it something else…
I walked around the book fair, prospected the tents, each one representing a publishing house, mental notes made about which ones to contact for my book (I had a dream etc), purchased a novel and sat down on the reading area set-up, soaking up the soft rays of sunshine, reading a little, then getting distracted by this soft velvet atmosphere I feel but cannot explain, I tilt my head back and soak up more sun and breeze, this recipe that I feel I was the only one privy to, I look around to see if people feel it too, people seem to be happy, even I AM relaxed and my London pace has slowed down to a mere shuffle as if I am worried I’d finish too quickly and lose the thread of velvet.

I stayed idle a while, leafing through my book, my nephew at a table nearby going frantically with a red crayon over his colouring book with his tongue sticking out the side of his mouth.
My sister joins us, she looks stressed, Samia lives in Algiers, she’s always stressed and uses this word often, it seems Algerians finally matched the word to the feeling, she drags her daughter by the hand, she was at her ballet lesson, she walks over looking her usual flustered self, the security lady chasing her, demanding to search her bag before she could enter the book festival.
Samia joins me, breathing frantically, looking everywhere as she talks, trying to locate her son, I point at him, his head down on his book, colouring with a blue crayon now. Her shoulders slump immediately and she seems to feel what I am radiating, she tilts her head sideways as if trying to work something out, then she shakes her head as if to dismiss the feeling and picks a chair, dispatches her daughter to join her brother and sits facing me, she looks at me as if waiting for instructions, so I instruct her to relax, she fidgets a little, rummages through her bag for something she can’t find, she calls out at the kids and gives instructions to do this and not do that. She just can’t relax. I take her by the shoulders and shake her gently with a smirk, she fixes me for a few seconds then laughs, then as if making a decision, she rests her back on the chair, tilts her head back and lets her arms dangle on either side of her chair and stops moving. I say the word “velvet” because I keep feeling it and Samia says “il fait beaauuuuu”. Finally she feels it.
Back at the house, the smell of freshly brewed coffee was intoxicating, Mum made my favourite cake and set the table, we all gathered around and chatted about nothing I can remember, observations about the kids, something my mum wanted my dad to fix or buy, I find myself worried the time will ran out and I will find myself alone again, so I cling onto every moment of coffee or lunch where we’re together, I offer to wash up and to help out with lunch but I am not allowed near the stove, my culinary talents are little to be desired.
Sometimes, as discreetly as they can, my parents always with a smile, ask if I thought about coming back home, then I don’t know or remember what happens next, my mind flies back to London, to my life here, my friends and my things, so many things I attach myself to, shackle myself with to validate the decision to stay here and be alone.
Time to say goodbye, yet again, I don’t remember going to the airport, my mind was going through mental lists, lists of reasons why I would remain in London, why life would be better in London, but I am not convinced, justifying my choices through self-delusions and a false sense of achievement.
In London I don’t feel the velvet, the coffee doesn’t smell the same, the sun doesn’t feel the same, the street noise isn’t the same, and I am not the same. Living shackled by material processions, fears of missing out on something and constant worries of time elapsing, chasing the sun, the air and the velvet where it cannot be, making a lifestyle out of Nostalgia and homesickness like an orphaned child who lost his home, living in the myth of no return.


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