Violet, lime and tangerine fabrics swishing along the sidewalks. One street market, two grocery stores plus some herbs from an Egyptian friend’s refrigerator in order to make a dish of Greek marinated chicken, turmeric and cinnamon spiced quinoa over spinach with Turkish dates. White fireworks exploding in the sky over the hill celebrating festivals we know nothing about. Twenty-four hours to make hummus from scratch in a land where canned chick-peas and safe tap water are non-existent. Accidentally agreeing to purchase Darjeeling tea leaves for $30. A middle aged man selling socks from a duffel bag to a security guard, passing the goods (black, calf height) between the iron bars of a gate.
Today a new friend visited and brought her baby plus a paper bag of oranges and mangoes. I held the dark-eyed beauty and listened to the mother tell the story of her daughter’s birth. And now I know why this Indian child is named after the Hebrew word for faith.
I’m still living with a foot in each home. After spending one hour in the mornings cooking breakfast and talking to Benson about his day ahead, I spend the next hour catching up with friends and family in the States. After celebrating the resurrection with believers here, I scroll through images of my pastel-donning church family in Houston smiling in front of the trees I recognize from the place we worship back home and my heart hurts to be there while at the same time being thankful for where I am.
Speaking of that balancing act . . .
Last week Anita, my housekeeper, asked if I’d like some fresh coconut water. “Like, from a coconut?” I asked.
“Yes, ma’am. I get. You try. Is good for stomach.” She was referring to the three days I’d spent in bed due to a questionable lettuce consumption earlier in the week. I nodded along, and out the door she went. I assumed she was headed down to the sidewalk where I’ve seen a guy selling coconuts from the handlebars of an old bicycle. He wields a machete and stands under a tree chopping his wares.
Seven minutes later Anita returned with a coconut and went straight to the kitchen to find a knife. I stayed behind and busied myself with attempting to pay my gas bill (which takes one hundred years). Plus, sometimes it’s best not to watch how things unfold around here.
Thirty seconds passed. “He cheated me!” Anita called.
“Cheated you?” I asked, temporarily pausing my gas bill non-payment and entering the kitchen. She held up my measuring glass, nodding toward about half a cup of water.
“I hope he is still there!” she exclaimed. She then carefully poured the water into a bottle, screwed a lid on top and rushed out the door with her evidence.
I stood in the apartment staring at the door with oh so many questions, the main one being how the coconut seller could have known how much water his coconuts contained.
Five minutes later Anita returned, triumphantly carrying a new coconut. “He gave me another!” she smiled.
“He gave you a new coconut?” I asked, trying to wrap my brain around the justice system of assumed coconut cheaters.
“Yes! He says he does not know how much water is in coconuts,” she said in a way that hinted that she didn’t believe him. I followed her to the kitchen and watched as she poked a hole in her trophy and poured the water into the bottle for me.
“Yes, this is a good one,” she declared, placing the bottle in the fridge to chill.
That afternoon an American friend stopped by and we drank the chilled juice while staring out my window and talking about the oddities of being from one land but living in another.
Everything is new in this land of old.