house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Gori Gora

It went on a while, in the background, at the edge of awareness - eventually even I had to spell it out: an argument, a big one, downstairs. A woman's voice, loud, angry, Urdu: fascinating, one-sided, splendid stuff: I don't think she drew a breath for about five minutes. She ended with a loud hiss, in English: 'EEE-DJIT'.

Then steps, closer and closer, up the stairs. Oh Lord: she's coming here! I seriously considered turning all the lights off and hiding behind the sofa. Too late: she walked right in. Turns out she's a good friend, bringing a chair. She started speaking - in her soft, velvety, measured voice - at some point noticed the question in my eyes.

'I'm afraid I had a go at your guard outside, darling. I didn't like the way he referred to you!'

'What did he say?'

'Well, I asked 'Is madam at home' and he said 'Yes, the 'gori' is upstairs. That's no way to address a lady - and I let him know that. The disgrace.'

'But, what is a 'gori?'

'Oh, darling, it's just silly - it means 'white woman', but it's not a nice term. It would be like you going around calling us 'Pakis''

'Oh.' And me, trying to be nice to the guards, in smiles and broken Urdu. Then something rang familiar, another recent memory. 'What's 'gora' then?

'It's the masculine. A white guy.'

A few days ago someone wrote 'LOVE GORA' on the back window of our car. Oh? OH. Nice one.

To recap: I am a 'gori'. And someone out there loves my 'gora'.

And the ending? I love him more. And I walk wiser.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Monkey March

Of course we were late (the real question is, when aren't we?). We slept and chatted and slept some more. We looked at the time, looked at each other, screamed, sprang and dived into the day. Sun high and hot, buzzards circling, blueberries drowning in (other people's) pancake mix, coffees ordered for the Sunday brunch crowd at Kuch Khaas.

We threw on some clothes, skidded out of the house, the little car whined and dodged cricket balls along Ataturk Avenue. We arrived - 'You got water? NO? You got some change? Quick, get some water!' - but they'd already left the car park, to walk up Trail Five. We jogged after, battling sleep-webs and Sunday sloth.

Fifteen minutes later, my lungs became gills and burned, M. kept up the pace - left, right, left, right - and all the while it felt like someone was running alongside shoveling cement inside my trainers. Is this the end? I gasped. I fell behind. The sun became a comet and exploded silently on alternate steps. Constellations came into being. Worlds died.

A while later, a clearing and sergeant major M. waiting, with friends. Dry river bed, wide bald rocks, warm in the sun, heavenly. A short nap followed by leisurely walk back? I collapsed on a rock. Everyone got up to go.

Later, still climbing. Spring turned to summer. The hair on my neck turned into a coil of rope, then a fistful of water snakes. Scarf turned to turban. Heart turned to hammer. A few more steps, and bliss: the path turned to plateau, slope to peak.

And the girl Lubna brought us oranges. We sat on the low wall, in a small cloud of orange scent and sunshine. Ecstasy beyond words.

On the way back, we stumbled into a monkey ambush. One screaming male, brown fur, red rump, chased by an angry posse. Crossed the path, stopped, a sly look - did he weigh up hiding at the hems of our kameez? - another screech.

We stopped. Smiled, 'look how sweet', careful not to show teeth. More branches breaking, more simian whoops. Ehmm, how sweet exactly? Smiles simmered down. Another monkey leapt onto the path, crossed to the left, after the first. We took some steps back, grim now, surrounded by monkeys. Everyone waited for the outcome of the battle. Stories flashed by, of women whose faces had been torn off by baboons, of small furry animals ripped apart, consumed. Can they really tear off your face? Someone picked up a stone.

Before any answer, before even the stone, they were gone.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Military Mystery

Kira has got a new interest: the Second World War. She quotes 'We'll fight on the beaches...' as soon as she walks into a book shop and spots Churchill on a shelf. She's reading a book about English children being put on trains and sent to the countryside to live with complete strangers. Her hot water bottle is called Hitler.

Yesterday she mused (clutching Hitler to her chest): 'Why was Hitler so mean?... and racist?... and anti-gay?... then a thought struck her:

Kira: 'Could gay people be among his nancies?'

Me: 'Not nice to call gay people 'nancies'!'

Kira (indignant): 'But 'nancies' are his men!'

Me: 'Huh?'

Kira: 'You know, his army! The NANCIES!'

Me (lights coming on): 'The Nazis?'

Kira: Yes. The Nancies.

Aha. Still, we have the question: were gay people among Hitler's nancies? Military mystery what-what.

Friday, 1 February 2013

The Table Mat Paradox

Lunch in town today and the most delicious detail is the table mat. Cheese, grapes, walnuts, bread and not one, not two, but THREE bottles of wine, an authentic Roman bacchanalia in the heart of Islam.

I show it to a Colombian friend and 'ALCOHOL'! he roars then goes on to announce to the crowd: 'THIS IS TORTURE'.

The fizzy lime has the last laugh.