Saturday, October 27, 2007

Amusing ourselves

The last few weekends I've been trying to take the kids out and see what's available around town for them to do. A week ago we went to the zoo. Of course, we'd been there many times in the past but we hadn't been there for a while so we thought we would try it again.

We arrived at the gates to the parking lot and there seemed to be a huge amount of men of various ages hanging about and going in. Sometimes the zoo's grounds are used for exhibitions and such so I thought this might be the reason. Upon entering we found that there was indeed something going on, but of the unsavory sort. The place had quite a few families and women with their children, but mostly there were prostitutes and their customers hanging about - all of them busy bluetoothing - a craze that's emerging in Libya.

I decided that since we were already there we might as well make the most of it so we walked around to see what animals were there. Sadly, there were few animals (except the human kind) to look at. The cages and enclosures were mostly empty. The playground area was just crawling with creepy looking guys and most of the benches were taken over by 'businesswomen'. We didn't stay long. I was so disgusted that I didn't even bother to get out my camera. Maybe if the park made a rule that only families and males accompanying families be allowed entry this situation could be put under control and the park would become a nice place to take children again. As for us, we will avoid the zoo from now on except to possibly go very early on a Friday morning.

This weekend we decided to try the new amusement park along the seafront next to the port. An Italian company is behind this enterprise, the rides were mostly being operated by Italians. It was kind of funny to hear them shouting out in a mixture of Italian and Arabic - 'Meeya Meeya!', 'Pronto! Pronto!'.

There was a nice assortment of rides to suit all ages, some games of chance, fast food stands, cotton candy and popcorn, all set to really loud music, mostly with a strong techno beat (which I like!). The park was clean and there were benches to sit on as well and grassy areas that families could either sit in groups on the grass or at tables that were set up.

I did notice that most people were just watching the rides and not riding themselves. Each ride costs a dinar or a dinar and a half depending on the type of ride. Typical Libyans with their low salaries would find this very expensive. For example, I didn't see even one of my students there. I usually meet students where ever I go, but they tell me that they usually don't go to places like this because they've made the choice to spend their money on their education instead. Most of the visitors in the park were families with small children, young people and older people with their grandchildren. While we were there I didn't notice any obvious 'businesswomen' and there weren't a lot of middle aged and older men hanging about either. I did notice a police stand located at the entrance.

We'll probably return to the park in the future after we've saved up enough to enjoy more of the rides.

I found taking pictures at the amusement park challenging. The lighting and the speed of the rides were difficult to catch, especially as I had my kids to look out for a the same time. But I did manage to get some interesting shots. I'm usually a bit leery of taking pictures with people in them but for some reason no one seemed to mind.

Jenna jumping on the trampolines - she really liked this a lot.

Red in the face and resting after jumping!

Bump! Bump! Bumper Cars!

I think Ibrahim liked this ride the best.

People watching and waiting. I didn't notice anyone pushing or shoving -a totally new experience for me here in Libya where that behavior is the norm.

Jenna and Ibrahim loved the swings - they went so fast. Rode them twice.

This ride looked a bit boring - just up and down and round and round.


These two girls were waiting patiently for the ride to begin.


I've never been on this ride.

Fruit juice.

Click on the images to see them larger.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Going black and white...or maybe greyscale

I made it through this week. It flew by so fast I couldn't believe it! Now the weekend...

Tomorrow is the black day here in Libya - the Libyan Day of Mourning. Commemoration for the deportation in 1911, during the Italian occupation, of a number of Libyans. Thousands of Libyans were sent into exile against their will to remote Italian islands. Many of them lost their lives, dying of thirst and hunger aboard the ships that carried them.

Every year on October 26th the internet and international phone calls are cut off nationwide, all Libyan Airline flights are cancelled and International and national ground and marine travel operated by Government of Libya-owned companies are also cancelled. If it's a school day the children are asked to wear black. Usually the Libyan television channel is switched from colour to black and white.

So tomorrow I'll have no internet and you won't be able to contact me from outside Libya by phone. Don't worry about me. It's only for 12 hours. I'll be back online after 6PM on the 26th.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

My Husband is an Aljazeera Zombie!

The other day my husband took the satellite receiver to be reprogrammed. He came back and plugged it in and immediately started searching for Aljazeera. Somewhere along the way he came across a concert with a woman singing and belly dancing.

, he shouted 'You gotta come here and see this woman! Is this a new singer?' I came in to look and saw the singer 'shaking all she's got' on the screen. Hubby was completely mesmerized. He wanted to know who she was and where she was from. He was certain the Arabic influence had just invaded the world. I just looked at him in disbelief. 'Thats Shakira. She's been around for a few years now. Maybe if you watched something besides Aljazero you would know what was happening in the world.' I told him.

I really don't know what happened to that man. He somehow got stuck in the eighties and then after that Aljazeera somehow invaded his mind... is there a cure?

Friday, October 19, 2007

The mysterious visitor

I did a little research about the moth that visited us on my birthday. It's a pretty interesting character! Even it's name is unusual; commonly called Death's-head Hawkmoth. It's the largest moth in the region and it has some other amazing features.

This moth is tough! It lives by raiding beehives! You can read all about it here: Death's-head Hawkmoth

My special day

It was my birthday yesterday. Actually my friends have been getting into the birthday spirit for more than a week before the actual day. They started giving me presents early!

Syd got me a bottle of perfume... Romeo Gigli, an Italian scent that she swears she's been searching for in Libya for years. She made me put it on my list of things to ask for anytime I entered a perfume shop. I finally found it for her in a shop near the Mahari Supermarket in Dahara and she went the next day and bought two bottles of it; one for her and one for me. It smells kind of like Joy but more intense and it increases in potency as you wear it. It's really WOW! I told her they should rename it to 'Sex in a Bottle'. So now you have an idea of what I smell like (at home of course).

Tara made a recent a trip to Malta and came back with 'The Libra'; a black framed, black velvet background of a pewter goddess of justice holding high above her head the balanced scales. It's sitting on my desk waiting to be hung up. The goddess of justice is naked has this wild long hair that covers all the private bits. And the scales are perfectly balanced. Tara and I have a running joke about my Libraness, so it's perfect!

Those two surprises I got before my birthday. On the actual day I had a nice peaceful morning and then Tara and I went out for a trip of shopping and something to eat downtown.

While we were looking at something in front of one of the shops and the shopkeeper came out to assist us. He had short black hair and in direct contrast sported a long red beard and moustache. Tara was totally captivated and instinctively reached up and touched the man's beard. The poor guy nearly fainted! He said, 'Ya satir! Ya satir!' I couldn't help but laugh. 'Don't touch people Tara, especially men. ' I told her. The man recovered himself as I explained to him she meant no harm. She had just found the colour difference so amazing and wanted to know if it was real. He assured me it was natural and not henna. It was a funny experience in culture differences. It seems I am forever having to point out cultural faux pas to Tara. Being married to a Libyan and living here so long these things don't even dawn on me anymore, but then when I go out with an ex-pat I'm reminded how different our cultures are. Another one for the list... Ladies! don't stroke a Libyan man's beard unless you're married to him, or he's your brother or father! Hahaha! I don't think I will ever forget the expression on that poor man's face! After shopping we stopped in at the Corinthia and had a pizza. It was yummy!

When I got home my son Yusef presented me with a box covered in foil wrapping paper that had red hearts printed on it tied up with a red ribbon and bow. As he handed it to me he gave me a kiss on both of my cheeks and one on my forehead. I unwrapped the package to find a bottle of perfume. Yusef had been saving up for it. Which was more precious?- the present or the way it was presented? Where did that boy inherit his charm from? Oh, he makes me so happy!

Throughout the day friends phoned to wish me happy birthday and I got lots of emails too. My sister Holly mentioned my birthday in the comments of my blog and others joined in. Thanks for all of that!

In the evening we had cake. Not a whole birthday cake, but an assortment of pieces so that everyone could have something different. No candles because that might be dangerous!

Right around midnight came the final surprise. A huge moth managed to find its way into the house. It was the size of a small bird and it even made a kind of chirping noise. We weren't sure at first that it was a moth, we thought it might be a bird or a bat. There were lots of screams and shouts from the kids (mostly from Nora) as we tried to catch it.

I'm not sure if the moth was meant for my birthday or not, and who sent it? Anyway, we put it in a jar and looked at it for a while before letting it go. It was an amazing creature. The most surprising thing was the chirping noises it made. Never in my wildest imagination would I have thought moths made noise.

So that was my birthday. Thanks everyone for all the kind thoughts, gifts and birthday wishes. Now I'm ready to face another year!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A morning out

I spent the morning shopping with my friend Tara. She's got some kind of a dressy event to go to. We spent the morning on Jaraba Street looking at tacky dresses in shops that smelled like cheap air freshener.

It was nothing more than an abuse of the senses.

Came home empty handed... of course.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Regrets... in the form of lunch

I made bazine for lunch.

It tasted great!

But now we're all farting like horses....

sigh... it seemed like a good idea at the time....

Friday, October 12, 2007

Surviving Eid

The first day of Eid is over and I survived it!

Bringing along a deck of Uno cards was a very good idea. It kept the older kids busy. I also brought my laptop along and filled all the boys mp3 players with music, so they were happy. And the smaller kids played with some pre-school/toddler games I put on the laptop just for the occasion. Even though the kids were busy, they were still noisy! A few of them had noisy toy guns and imitation mobile phones.

I spent most of the day sitting with my sister in laws and other female family members. Aside from interrogating each other about where they bought their Eid clothes and how much they paid for them, they talked about all kinds of really stupid and boring interesting things.

One topic kept them going nearly all day: They all compared who had stayed up the latest the night before. 'I didn't fall asleep until 7am!' one of them said. '7am! Oh I didn't sleep until 8am and then I got up one hour later.' said another. 'That's nothing. I didn't sleep at all!' the next one said. They all knew exactly what time they had gone to bed and the very instant they woke up and they repeated the details every time someone new came. 'Khadija what time did you stay up until last night?' they asked me. 'Umm... I'm sorry... I didn't know there was going to be a musabaka (competition) about it so I didn't look at the clock.' I replied every time I was asked.

Can you believe that it is possible to have an hour-long, in-depth discussion of various hair removal methods? I'm always so thrilled to spend hours discussing such interesting topics. I can't wait until tomorrow! I'll have to make a mental note to look at the clock the very second I fall asleep tonight!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Eid Wishes

Tomorrow is Eid. We're ready for it. The clothes and shoes have been bought and are waiting to be worn. All that's left is a stop at the pharmacy to pick up Tylenol Extra Strength to help me cope with the headache I am sure to get from all the noise the kids will make. Maybe I should see about getting something stronger...

I've got my iPod loaded with books to read. This will give me something to do besides staring at my sister in laws all day long. I bought some Uno cards to keep the girls busy. The little kids will have balloons, and guns to play with and toys that make noise... lots of noise! If I survive the holiday I will tell you all about it.

Eid Mubarak!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Finally getting around to this

I haven't added any links to my sidebar in a while. They've been accumulating in my 'to add' file in my Bloglines account.

So 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 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."

A New Life - a Libyan doctor in Ireland

Afnan and Aya - two Libyan students in the UK

Alone in Tripoli - a Libyan from Benghazi who is living in Tripoli

Being Me - a Benghazi citizen

butterfly - a Libyan/Arabic blog

CNN Libya - Khaled Jorni's news stories about Libya, and sometimes beyond.

Dusk till Dawn - a Libyan in Yorkshire

Epiphanies - An English Lit. student in Libya

Growl of the Sea - an Arabic/English blog by a Libyan software developer

Haya says...bla bla bla - an Arabic blog by a Libyan phlebotomist

James of Jamahiriya - one of Mani's friends

Libyan Bloggregator - an aggregator of Libyan blogs

Libyan Mind UK Life - A Libyan born and raised in the UK

The Lockerbie Case - Commentary and news about the case by Professor Emeritus Robert Black, a Professor of Scots Law in the University of Edinburgh.

Mr.Madi - a Libyan with a camera

Maya's spot - the life of a Libyan girl

My Personal Space - - PH.. who also has an Arabic blog: anarabtest

My random rantings... - A Pakistani girl who spent much of her life in Libya

naohama - a writer/poet/translator from Benghazi

Romana's words - Libyan female blogger

Tripoli Sweet Home - - another blog from Hibo

Monday, October 08, 2007

An update about Libyan lighthouses

Russ Rowlett's directory of lighthouses has had an update of the 'Lighthouses of Libya' page. He's added information about the ancient Roman ruins of a lighthouse in Leptis Magna.

Not much is known about Libyan lighthouses. Can anyone fill in the missing information?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Keeping busy

One of my main headaches during Ramadan has been keeping Ibrahim busy. Ramadan is difficult enough without having to chase a certified hyperactive kid around all day. Even on his meds he can be a handful sometimes. I've got too much to do to be wasting time so many times I bring him into the kitchen with me. I give him jobs to do, trying best not to give him ones that end in disaster.

He likes the whisk... Stir boy, stir! But not soooo fast... it will go over the sides of the pan!

He's a master at cheese grating. He was doing so good at this - He finished grating the cheese until he finished it all. Then I had to run and grab the dish because he was attempting to smash it all back together again!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Under a dark cloud

A friend sent me the link to this article written by an American woman about her Libyan husband and Ramadan:

Unfortunately, I read it first thing in the morning and it kind of hung over me like a dark cloud for the entire day...

Read it... what impressions do you get from it?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Making decisions

I found an interesting questionnaire on Learndirect. What sort of decision maker are you?

After answering the questions this is what it said about me:

You seem like an organised self-starter and confident decision-maker. Not only can you plan meticulously, you are also an ideas person and a problem solver. You have the adaptability to work on many tasks at once. You’re resourceful and like to gather lots of information and seek advice before making informed decisions. You’re self-aware and are sure of your strengths and weaknesses. You’re not afraid to try new things or take risks, and you learn from your mistakes.

You seem to have a strong sense of identity and a good appreciation of your feelings and those of others. You understand how different feelings and moods can affect you and others, and you can describe these effects. Your self-awareness enables you to reflect on your feelings and moods and you can learn from previous experiences, which enables you to deal with future challenging situations.

You’re sociable and seek out new friends and contacts using your networking skills. You’re a good judge of character, and value other people’s knowledge, experience and advice when making decisions. You’re aware of different social groups and know which one reflects your values most closely. Your wide range of personal interests and good social skills open up a broad range of opportunities for you. You’ve got the courage of your convictions and you’re not afraid to follow a completely different path from those around you.

This was really interesting! At the end you can download an entire report. I'm thinking about having my students do this. I would print out the questions first and we'd go over them in class. Then for homework they could write up what they thought their profile would be. Finally they could do the test online and see whether their predictions about themselves were the same or not. Lot's of good vocabulary!

Find out about yourself here: What sort of decision maker are you?

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