Saturday, June 30, 2007

Your chance to offer advice!

Being American means that lots of Libyans think I have some direct influence on what goes on at the American Embassy in Libya. Libyans think that their system of connections, known here in Libya as wasta, includes me somehow.

Well, not surprisingly, I hear all kinds of stories. One of the stories that I have been hearing quite frequently is from Libyans who were born in the US and go to the Embassy to apply for an American passport and have their meeting with embassy 'officials' in the coffee shop downstairs. They are not allowed into the embassy's offices upstairs, their business is discussed in full earshot of whoever else happens to be in the Corinthia's coffee shop. These Libyan/Americans are usually young guys who are too embarrassed to make an issue out of being met in the coffee shop because they think if they question it their chances of getting the passport (they are rightfully entitled to) might be influenced negatively.

For some reason this sounds a bit fishy to me. But who do you complain to? They come to me asking for advice and hoping I can help them.

What should I tell them??

Friday, June 29, 2007

My Cluttered Desktop


The challenge going around Libyan blogs these days is to Show Us Your Desktop. Well, here's mine. I usually just download everything onto my desktop and then when it's gets too crowded to see the background I sort it all out.
  • I've got my calendar on there so I know what day it is.
  • The Yahoo weather widget so I can see how hot it is outside and how hot it will be for the next few days (It's totally depressing to look at the weather in summer!) .
  • The background is a tile of Jenna made by Mahmud from a picture I had previously posted. He played about with it and sent it to me and I liked it so much I use it for my desktop background.
I had thought about 'cleaning house' before I let guests in, but I decided to let you see the real me instead. So now you know how messy and untidy I am! What does your desktop look like?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Too many confrontations for one day!

Yesterday was a day of confrontations. Jenna and I were out and about in the morning and had to stop at the gas station to fill up the tank. There was a huge line of cars going all the way out into the street because, as usual, there was only one of the pumps working. So I get in line and a taxi driver decided to try to get in line in front of me by attempting to squeeze his taxi between my car and the one in front. He's hanging out in the road at an angle, causing a traffic jam. No way was I going to let the idiot in ahead of me! I moved up, putting my car as close as possible to his without hitting it... he's trapped and has no choice but to have an argument with me.

We both roll down our windows at the same time. 'You are not getting in front of me!' I call out. He starts yelling back, saying he was there first. 'NO! I was here before you! How dare you try to squeeze in front of me!' The shouting match had begun! He probably thought I was some weird foreign woman and he could get away with being rude and obnoxious. But this weird foreign woman knows how to yell and shout in Libyan Arabic and I know ALL the swear words too. Finally Mr Rude Taxi Driver backed down and said I could go first but he asked if I would move back a bit so he wont mess up the paint on his taxi.

I went home and had confrontations with the kids who had done nothing the whole time I was out except watch TV. By some miracle I didn't have any confrontations at work.

After work I usually drive home the secretary, and usually a few students too (they're Nora's friends). My secretary asked if I'd take her to a shop to look for a house dress for her mother. She said the shop was full of bargains and as I'm always looking for a good deal I agreed to take her. We got to the shop (in an area of town I usually avoid because it's a bit on the rough side) and Nora and her friends decided they didn't want to go in the shop, they preferred to stay in the car and chat. So my secretary and I got out and the girls had to all get out too so they could change places in the car (to talk better).

We went in the shop and I found some cute pajamas that would be great for Ibrahim. I held them up and asked the price - the guy looked straight at me and said 'Two dinars and a half.'. So I grabbed two of them. There was nothing else interesting in the shop and I went to the counter to pay. I handed the guy 5 dinars and he said 'No. It's 8 dinars.' I told him 'You said they were 2 and a half dinars.' He said 'No. it wasn't me that told you that.' I looked at him straight in the eye and while putting down the pajamas on the counter I pulled the 5 dinars out of his hand and told him 'You're the only person in this shop. No one else could have told me 2.50 but you. You can keep your pajamas.' With that I walked out of the shop. I went in a shoe shop next door while I waited for my secretary to finish in the bargain store.

We walked back to the car and found a huge fight in progress. About 50 boys and men, all of them shouting and boxing each other in the street next to my car! We quickly got in the car and asked the girls what was going on. Apparently as the girls were letting the secretary out of the car and getting back in some guy made a comment to one of the girls. The girls ignored the guy but someone in the street took offense and challenged the guy and the result was the big fight breaking out! The girls were stuck sitting in the car waiting for us to get back. I got the car out of there as fast as I could and took everyone home.

By the time we got home I was exhausted. The house was a mess and I was back to having confrontations with my kids. It took me about an hour to straighten them out.

I think it's the heat... it's making us all crazy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Links to add

Here are some more links to add to my collection. And here is the disclaimer that goes along with them:

"Please remember that even though I am adding these links their writers may not hold the same views as I do. Also there are some blogs that are written in Arabic or other languages besides English. Although I can speak Libyan Arabic (my grammar is awful, but comical) I can neither read nor write Arabic, or any other language."

krekma - Krekma is a North African game, used to be popular when parents and relatives wanted to put kids to sleep. - I'm not sure the blog will put you to sleep!

Just Keepsmile 5 - a Libyan in Toronto

Tripoli blogger - an Arabic and English blog

Libyan Mental TV - Video blogging in Libya!

Sweet World - a communications engineer in Tripoli

My Mind Room - Iranian female expat in Libya

Journey of life - Libyan, ibeebarbie looks at life from California.

Fatboy - Young Libyan boy in Tripoli

On the edge of something - A must read blog from the Condo By The Sea!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Plodding through my inbox

Finally, I am off dial-up and back on adsl. This morning I logged on to sort out my mail situation. I had hardly been able to even approach my email on dial-up because the connection was so weak and I kept getting cut off, so today I plow through and weed out all the junk. And believe me there is lots of it!



It is amazing what people will send you. I don't mind reading jokes... but I hate the fwd:fwd:fwd:fwd: that people send. At least have the courtesy to remove the addresses of the five thousand people that have forwarded the email before you.



And then there are people who will email you the weather report for your area.... I know what the weather is in Tripoli! I live here remember!



Hardly anyone wrote to tell me the news in their life. My mom wrote me her usual note, IN ALL CAPS, AS USUAL - makes me wonder if she is yelling at me. She wrote to say she was still having problems with her computer... I wish my siblings would straighten it out for her. I live too far away to do it myself and mom's been complaining about her computer for well over a year now.... sigh....



Then there are those that think I need to read their horoscope... now why would I care what their horoscope is??



Delete, delete, delete.. I keep hitting the delete button. I should be finished going through my inbox sometime this month...



Anyway, I am back online. The weather is HOT here and my friend's horoscope sounds ominous... or was that mine?..... sigh....





Friday, June 22, 2007

Just tie me up and torture me!

I'm still on dial-up... my connection is killing me! Most of the time the connection is so weak that I can't do anything. Occasionally I can open my mail, but usually it won't let me do that. Download speed 18.4 kbps - upload speed 17.0 kbps...





I will be in Gargaresh in the mental hospital soon... I think they allow visitors there. I'd appreciate it so very much if you'd bring Doritos for me when you visit...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

LTT Sucks!

I've finished my 5 gbs for this month's allotment of adsl. I'll be able to get back on adsl after midnight on Saturday. In the meantime I'm on dial-up or making a trip to the neighbourhood internet cafe.



With dial-up I can internet from home, dressed as I like, but it's extremely slow. At the internet cafe the connection is a little faster but I'll be stuck sitting with a whole bunch of weird people and the internet isn't open in the morning when I'm free (and I can't go there at 2 in the morning either).



I wish LTT would get their act together and provide better service. I can't understand why you can't just purchase an extra few gigas when you need them. Better yet would be if they offered more to begin with.... sigh...



Anyway, if you email me and I don't get back with you right away it's because I am stuck in internet limbo... I've probably clicked on reply... but it's just taking forever to get there. Eventually I will get back with you... I hope so... I really do.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Heat is On!

The weather has become scorching hot here in Tripoli. Everyone is complaining about the oppressive heat.



Today I was home all morning, inside the comfort of air conditioning. When I finally went outside I was immediately surrounded by hot air. I opened the door to the car and was blasted by a wave of blistering heat that was so hot I thought about just closing the door and going back upstairs. Unfortunately I had a list of errands that couldn't wait so I reached inside the car with one arm, put the key in the ignition and turned it on. I decided it would be best to open all the windows and turn on the AC before I actually got inside. After a few minutes I climbed into the driver's seat but it was still sizzling inside the car.



When I got home all I could think was to get upstairs and head straight for the fridge and cold water. Shortly after that the electricity went out... No electricity means no air conditioning, no lights, no water... no water because the water tank is filled by a pump that runs on electricity. Panic! No water - just when I was hoping to have a shower!



After about 45 minutes the electricity came back on and I headed straight for the bathroom. The water was boiling hot... that's because the water tank is outside in the hot sun all day. So forget about having a refreshing cool shower during the summer.



I'm going to just stay inside next to the air conditioner until fall.. and pray the electricity doesn't go off.



How are you coping with the heat?



Saturday, June 16, 2007

a funeral and some chicken

This afternoon I found out I had a funeral to go to. I found out right after I'd polished my nails. The girls thought I should remove the polish but I thought it was suitable because it's black... with sparkles... and it's only on my toes. I put on thick stockings instead.



The funeral was for my brother in law's wife's father who's been sick and on the verge of dying for ages... but still the women got hysterical; screaming, crying and fainting. I can never understand this. To me it is so ridiculous, especially because they can be crying and moaning one minute and talking about what's for dinner the next. Like they can turn on and off the emotion with a switch or something. Totally bizarre!



After going to the funeral (which I will probably have to show my face to every day for the next few days), I stopped and got chicken for Yusef and his friends. Yusef's been begging me since morning for three chickens to grill up on the roof with his friends. They're up there now, grilling away... it smells wonderful.... I hope they remember to send me down a taste at least.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Published!

One of the photographs that I took from my first trip to Nalut has been published in the 2007/2008 edition of Muslim Directory. They contacted me a while back and asked permission to use my image. Now it's finally available and they've mailed me a copy of the directory.

With luck the Libyan post office will be nice enough to put it in my box. Most of the time they don't do their job very well... sigh.. in the last year I've only received one National Geographic Magazine... I will check my post office box this week. Keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wedding, gold? and a fellow blogger!

I survived the wedding.. it was actually kind of nice because my friend asked that the music not be so loud and for the most part you could actually have a conversation. One of my most favourite ex-students was there and I enjoyed catching up on her life. Also saw lots of friends that I haven't seen in ages. The food was wonderful and way too much to ever finish no matter how hard anyone tried - and of course the aroosa (bride) was beautiful, masha'allah!



For those of you that are waiting for the gold update... alas.. I didn't get the gold set that I wanted... but it's still there in the shop window and I have hopes that I may still get it. Actually my mother in law said she thought I deserved two gold sets not one! - Yes! I love that woman!



Last week I met Libyan blogger Mani. It turned out that it was his birthday so he brought the pizza and I provided the cake. We had a nice time - it was like we'd known each other for years. He's funny and talks a blue streak...



Sorry I didn't get any pictures.. of Mani or the wedding. For some reason I am not in the mood for pictures.. You may have noticed my last few posts have been imageless. But have no fear.. I feel a new 'Where is this?' challenge may be happening soon.









Monday, June 11, 2007

Libyan Blogger Needs Your Help!

I hadn't seen Trabilsia, who has the blog Tripoli Ghibli online for a while and was wondering what was up. Finally got hold of her and found out that her son Tarek was in a serious car accident last Friday. He was in ICU for 2 days but is stable now. He's suffered injuries to his arms and they are hoping to take him to Tunis soon.



The power of prayer is an amazing thing. Please remember Trabilsia's son in your prayers!





Friday, June 08, 2007

Gold update

I'm working on convincing the man I married that having a 2,800 dinar gold set is an absolute necessity. This morning I tried on the new dress and shoes and paraded around the living room in them for him to see.



'That gold set I saw would be just perfect with this, wouldn't it?' I asked. (Using question tags is a popular trick that salespeople use because the other person will usually respond with a yes.)



'Hmmm...' he replied, eyes still focussed on Aljazeera.



I pretend I'm a model on the runway... stopping to do a spin every time I get in front of the TV, making sure to point out the slit that goes way up the back of the skirt and the fluid movement of the chiffon.



'You know that gold set I saw has emeralds in it. Emeralds would look perfect with this dress, wouldn't they?' I ask, making sure to use another question tag.



'It's 9am on a Friday morning. The shop isn't open yet.' was his reply. I smile and go change back into a house dress. He hasn't said 'No.'



The game has just begun... I hope I win. I will keep you updated.



Thursday, June 07, 2007

Got shoes, got a dress... next GOLD!

Today is hot as a furnace outside. Someone told me it was going to be 44C today but I'm afraid to look at the temperature myself. Somehow it always seems hotter when you actually see the thermometer.



I've been running around all day - in and out of the house since morning. I went shopping and bought myself something new to wear to my friend's daughter's wedding next week. My quest to find something suitable i.e. something comfortable, respectable and not too overpriced, had me out shopping for the past few weeks. Let me tell you this - there are some really ugly dresses in the shops in Tripoli! And they are almost all very expensive too.



I had decided that I would give up today if I didn't find something I liked - so today I went into a shop and actually found something and was surprised. I had gone out today with only about 100 dinars in my bag and had to go home to get more money. Of course I got to my car and found it was blocked in by two other cars. After waiting nearly half an hour I was finally able to get my car out. I went home, got the money and went back, stopped in a shoeshop that was on the way and found perfect shoes.. so I am set and ready to go. Well almost.... I have to convince my husband to buy me the gold set I found. It's perfect... and it's only 2,800 dinars! I'll have to put on my best Libyan woman temper tantrum impersonation in the hopes I can get it... I'll let you know if I'm successful.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Exam results!

Yesterday the results were out for exams.....



Drum roll please!..........






Nora - passed! Mumtaz!!! (that's excellent in English) We're not sure what her class rank is yet. We'll check on it next week, but I hope she was first!



Sara - passed!
Definitely not near the top in her class but then she's not the academic one in the family. I am certainly happy she passed because she is the biggest pouter and cryer of all my kids and we'd have had to put up will all kinds of noise if she'd failed - so thank God she made it!



Yusef - passed! Jaid Jidan!!! (that's very good in English) He was so happy he came running in and grabbed me in a great big bear hug.



Jenna - passed! Jaid Jidan!!! - jumping up and down and spitting mad because she didn't get Mumtaz! Even I am wondering about that one... the exam results were posted and we'll have to wait for the report cards to see what subject(s) pulled her grade down.



To celebrate I told the kids I would take them out to dinner. Yusef said 'I'm not hanging out with a bunch of females! Can I have money to take my friends out to Pizza House?' So I forked over some cash. I took the girls, along with my secretary out to dinner, then some shopping and then a stop at the ice cream place in Zawia Damani. We had lots of fun!



Now there is only Adam left. He starts his exams on Sunday... It will be July by the time we find out his results. But for now we are all happy and ready to face the summer.





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