I've got a heart that's approximately the size of a raisin.
Really, it's tiny.
But every now and then it comes to life--today it's busting with pride. Listen below to what my friend Lucian produced. It's his first CD. He works in a bank now, but not for long.
His name is Lucian Keszeg, his CD is called "Refugiu" and is available at www.trinitymusic.ro. His music is instrumental-- I always think of Lucian as writing scores for movies. Maybe someday soon.
It took me ages to make this post because I couldn't figure out how to upload music. Also was busy with getting re-settled back in Hainburg.
My reunion with Remi was unbelievably joyful, as she is another one who gets some sort of response out of this raisin heart.
Happy New Year, Everyone. Cheers.
Sunday, December 31, 2006
I've got a heart that's approximately the size of a raisin.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
A long delay in Rome enroute from Algiers to London-via an overnight stay in Vienna. Not a bad place to be delayed, except at the airport, which is a confusing and ill-marked maze. They may as well just have funhouse mirrors installed for all the good their lack of signs do.
Flight was canceled, so with my pathetic dinner voucher, I raced through the self-service line with my eye on the wine section. There were "individual" bottles, and normal bottles, of which I grabbed the latter.
The lady at the checkout said something like "No way. Those vouchers don't cover an actual-size bottle of fine Italian wine." My eyes said otherwise, followed by my mouth, which said "Watch Me." She did, since she wasn't interested in getting into a tussle with an exhausted and pissed off traveler who was not even halfway to her destination.
Bottle of wine was later confiscated, as I could use it as a weapon. My small rings were also suspect, as I apparently could chew them into some sort of knife, but I was allowed to have them, in the end. Along with my shoes and belt. I've learned to be grateful for the small things in my life.
Luggage was lost, of course. One bag made it the following day, next bag mysteriously showed up the day after that. I guess I've had my Christmas miracle.
Now at my sister's house in England and settling into a nice Christmas. We took a walk with her dog today, whose ultimate goal was a cow paddy in the field, and having it properly introduced to her back, head and neck.
Smelling ripe and dismissing my sister's angry reprimand, she trotted on over to the first house she saw and took a ceremonial dump in the driveway.
A few houses on and my brother-in-law started singing "Driving Home for Christmas" and then my sister started swatting him and hushing him, and supressing what might have been a small grin. "Sssshhhh, Roger, he'll move away if all his neighbors treat him like a celebrity."
My interest is piqued. "A celebrity?" What celebrity? Who? Where do they live?"
"Chris Rea. He lives there," said Roger, and then started singing again. "Driiiving Home for Chriiistmas...."
I start jumping to see if I could see over the hedges. I saw a top of a window. I jumped again. Saw white paint. Maybe I'd see Chris in there right now composing a song. And again another jump, but realized I was doing nothing but bouncing, so gave up.
We walked on, with Roger singing "Driving Home for Christmas," me singing "Julia" because it's always the song that pops into my head when I think of Chris Rea, and Joellyn resigning herself to her life with a poop-covered dog and her star-struck relatives.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
We went out for a bite to eat at lunch and saw this man walking toward us. My local partner, Salah Eddine, tried to find the words to tell me about him. I didn't understand everything, but certainly understood "nationalist".
He comes from the south, near the desert (you can see from his clothes)
I'm leaving Algeria tomorrow. I'll miss everyone at the newspaper (big hugs and kisses to you all!!). I know I'm not writing it correctly, but I'll be back at the end of January, enshallah (this is what I'm not spelling right). Merci beaucoup to everyone, and auvoir.
Posted by Patti McCracken at 8:50 PM
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Hanafi, ak.a. "Danny Boy", is a loyal reader of this blog, and frequent commenter, too. He's the head of administration at the Algerian newspaper I'm consulting for, and is sure that he'll teach me either French or Arabic before I leave.
Anyhow, he keeps some images of Algeria on his cell phone (this is one of several he has on there)--that's what I call a true patriot.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Last Friday my driver was taking me home from the newspaper when we saw what looked like a guy plastered onto the back of a city bus.
Traffic is light on Friday afternoons, since it's the weekend and after mosque. So the driver sped up a little to get a better look.
The skated guy was holding onto the outside of the back of the bus, while those standing INSIDE the back of the bus leaned on their arms and looked out at him surfing the bus beneath them.
The bus pulled into a stop and bus-surfer let go and swayed off. Guess it was his stop.
Friday, December 15, 2006
In downtown Algiers, there is a large square facing the Bay of Algiers on one side, the Casbah on the other.
Parked near the Bay side is a shiny red Warner Bros truck, and beside it is a large screen rolling out Tom and Jerry cartoons day and night. No, I don't know why. But there is always a genuine crowd of people there obediently watching. It is always quiet, and feels like the safest place in town. Whatever Tom and Jerry is delivering--something mindnumbing, hypnotic, or calming--- it sure is pacifying to the locals.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Hussein knows how to say just a handful of of sentences in English, one of which is: I am hungry. He also says it in German, for my amusement: Ich bin hungrich.
Around 1 oclock, he usually comes into the editor-in-chief's office and announces himself with either the English or German version, expecting those in the room to accompany him to lunch.
He's not, in any way, fat, but he's nonetheless a notorious eater, and yesterday was no exception when he gulped down two and a half chickens. At the end--which came lightning fast--his plate looked like the site of a heartless and unspeakable massacre.
Police arrived and put tape around the crime scene. Other diners spoke in hushed tones, pointing at the criminal (still wiping his mouth) and the collection of bones piled into a heap.
That said, I now understand why we ended up with a 45-pound turkey at Thanksgiving here--there is at least one Algerian who could eat it all by himself.
On the way back, we stopped at a patisserie for some dessert.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
We've been instructed to curtail our activities after a (Haliburton contractor) shuttle bus was bombed and machine-gunned in an exclusive area on the outskirts of Algiers.
I was reprimanded by the newspaper publisher here for having visited a mosque a few days before. She reminded me that she was responsible for my safety, and was even more upset when she found out that I went window-shopping in the mornings before my interpreter arrives. She didn't like that it was a routine that could be tracked. She's particularly sensitive to the terrorism issue here, as her husband was a victim during the height of it in the 1990s. After her plea, I felt really guilty for worrying her.
There are still hotspots in other areas of the country, but Algiers is relatively quiet, despite the recent bombing.
Anyhow, an Al-Qaeda-linked group has claimed responsibilty for the bus attack, saying all Algerians who accompany Americans are at risk.
What a lovely world we do live in.
I'd cover myself with a burka but, well, you know, a 5'10" anything can't go unnoticed in short-statured land like Algeria.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
I dreamt last night that I was sitting in a crowded cafeteria, and my mother appeared with Remi on a leash. She was trying to unfasten the leash and she just didn't seem to do it fast enough, because I was so anxious to see Remi after so many months away. But when the leash was undone, it was clear Remi was ill. She came to me, but she just sat in my lap and had a raging fever. I was in a panic because she was acting exactly like she acted when she was sick before (poison, presumably). But no one around sensed the danger. I was trying to get them to understand the emergency, but no one was responding.
I woke up with my heart pounding, and waited until it was early enough to SMS the dogsitter and see how she was.
He wrote back right away, said she was fine and they were getting ready to go out for their morning walk. I still can't shake the feeling that something might be wrong, but I suppose that's fear talking, not logic.
In a little more than two weeks I'll be able to cuddle her for real.
Friday, December 08, 2006
From the main road, this playing field overlooks the Bay of Algiers, although the wall is too high for the players to see over. To the left of them, some other players had taken over a tennis court and turned it, too, into a soccer field.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
The young baker I buy my bread from here learned English from the Internet. He learned Swedish, too, because he thinks Sweden is a wonderful country, and he would love to live there.
Whenever I drop in he tells me how much he wants to leave, and how he dreams of lviing in America or Canada (or Sweden, of course).
On Monday when I came in, his sister/aunt/cousin went into the back to get him because he had something to ask me.
"I got an email from Canada and I'm so scared. I'm excited, but also scared, because something doesn't seem right."
He explained to me that a friend had passed along an email for jobs for foreigners in Canada, and that he'd written immediately, and heard back right away.
"I was so excited, I couldn't sleep at all last night," he said. "But I don't understand why they answered so fast. That scares me."
I asked him to show me the email and he comes back out with a printout of what was given. That's pictured on the right, fuzzy though it is.
I pointed out how right he was to be suspicious, starting with a lack of company logo, the request for full disclosure of passport information, (including eye color, height, weight, passport number, et. al.--everything a company looks for in an employee!!!).
He realized that all they wanted from him was his passport info so they could sell it for several thousand dollars to criminals and terrorists, and invalidating his own passport (not to mention the potential political nightmare) along the way.
He was deflated. "I was willing do anything. Wash cars, clean floors. I just want a chance."
I know the quality of the image is poor, but for those of you with excellent eyesight, note the difference of signature to the name printed above it. And my favorite part, the agreement to "be honest, and never play in working hours".
Sunday, December 03, 2006
It happens from time to time when working with interpreters, and I'm lucky when it does.
I watch Nadir faithfully conveying my message hour after hour, day after day, week after week; and I wonder when did this man--who has been my interpreter, my fixer, my bodyguard, my cultural historian, my cheerleader and my ambassador--when did he also become my dear friend?
I still have a couple more weeks here, but I will miss you, Nadir, when I leave.
This plays on state tv in what will remain an unnamed country in the former Soviet bloc. You can find it between the sex channels, CNN and MTV. After this showed, a woman came on dressed in what appeared to be a large and ornate tablecloth, and did something akin to yodling while jazzily snapping her fingers.
Meanwhile, still here in Algiers. The other day Nadir said someone reminded him of the "Fathergod," as in "Omigod. Who does he think he is? The Fathergod?" That was the day after he pointed out the small Shipcruise coming into the Bay of Algiers.