Monday, August 4, 2008

grinning ear to ear

there are some things i don’t expect or ever think i’ll see/hear/taste/do here in cameroon... not crazy stunts or nasty food. simple things, things that happen all the time back home. but i’ve been so out of the loop, so deprogrammed, so well-adjusted that when they happen i just sit there in awe. jaw dropped and mouth agape... grinning from ear to ear like a silly little boy.

i never expected to see mama interacting with Cameroonians. Special English has a whole new meaning! but when mama and the imam of Masjid al-Rahma here in Douala (a Malian man) held an extended conversation on topics ranging from bin Laden and Sept. 11th to development in Africa to cultural/intellectual exchange b/w west and east (past, present and future)... all in fusha [classical Arabic]! i just sat back and watched/listened in amazement. BIG GRIN and sometimes a giggle or a shake of the head... disbelief. never thought i’d see that here.

Douala... this city has everything, for better or for worse. the gap in wealth is disgusting... b/w locals and ex-pats and b/w poor locals and rich ones. as an aside... where do i stand?! i suppose i never expected to see supermarkets like Score [owned by Pick 'n Pay, South Africa] and Cash Center or every American/European product you can think of on the shelf for 10s of 1000s of cfa [central african francs]. maybe it’s good i see this from time to time... decreases reverse culture-shock in the long run. remember that people are living like that still.

but i don’t want to think of that... what happened to simple living? small is beautiful? Babadjou! let me wrap up this entry... never thought i’d eat hummus, labne, babaghanoush, falafel, tabouleh, fatooosh, kebbeh, sambosa... all that. moms and i ate at this Lebanese restaurant, Le Pacha a few times these past 2 days. not cheap. i had that silly disbelieving grin on my face more than a few times as i ate that food. kattayef... wow!

will i be grinning and disbelieving like that when i get back home in 2 years? to all those little things that i took for granted... family, friends, food, flowers. i hope and pray so. to feel like a little kid again. a fresh look on all those things... an excitement and joy overflowing. small is beautiful. and little things make me happy.

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