You know it’s spring time in the Middle East when:
The sky is so blue it hurts your eyes and the beige buildings suddenly and inexplicably look a bit orange
The versatile tribe of ants who live in my cupboard is back in business
The trees are in bloom
Young girls have traded their high heel boots for open toe pink pumps
Headscarves are getting higher and higher and pinker and pinker
Taxi drivers leave all windows open and a flag flying over the driver’s window (a smart and patriotic way to get the breeze in while keeping the sun out)
More young men lean against walls engaged in chatting, smoking, staring, laughing or any other vertical leisurely employment they can think of
Little sun birds are courting energetically and tiny feathers drift over yesterday’s cup of coffee left on the balcony
The man who sells peanuts is not wearing his woolen hat
The white-clad men smoking argyllas and speaking to similar looking men on their i-phones instruct the waiters to remove the cellophane lid that has enveloped the terrace since November
The street cats look fluffy and purposeful as they patrol the bins (on top of which they occasionally fall asleep in the sun)
The sugar cane juice hut has more customers than the falafel place next door
It was Friday, a day most people spend indoors with their families so the streets were dead.
My friend and I started our journey through the town maze, fleetingly eyed by the occasional young boy coming back from the grocer’s or a shop keeper smoking his cigarette in front of the shops.
We passed a bakery and, as I instantly fainted with longing for a big fresh loaf, had to continue our journey with massive flaps of fresh bread in tow.
After an hour of going up and down winding little streets lined with old Ottoman architecture we decided to stop for a cup of coffee.
Small place, 2 or 3 tables, just us and the owner.We ordered coffee and he disappeared behind the bar. Minutes later he emerged with coffee, water and a bowl of fresh hummus: “You have bread. You need something to go with it.”
Our quick snack finished, we made to leave. No amount of begging swayed him.
We were not to pay, we were guests in his city and his shop and that’s how things were going to stay.
To this day, that was the best hummus with bread I’ve ever tasted.
It’s Sunday, the first day of the week.
I can hear the mosque chanting in the distance.
The inhabitants of the big fir tree are flying out one by one, in pursuit of the day’s opportunities. A massive, stern looking crow is the last one home.
The sandwich cart stops in front of an office building. The guy makes baked egg sandwiches with humous and tomatoes. He hands them out quickly and expertly to expectant hands. When breakfast has been served he lights a cigarette and crouches on the pavement.
The week can now begin.
So one day somebody unfriends you. You have no idea why. Or when. You just realise it must have happened. Like when a stray cat pisses on your doorstep.
The unfrienders don’t scream and shout (as people may do in real life when they wish to be unfriendly) and they don’t throw your love letters in your dumb face. They don’t call you names, they don’t slam the door, the neighbours don’t feel they should call the police.
Unfriending is silent. Break a plate and you’ll hear it break. Friendship hits the floor without so much as a half arsed whimper.