Thursday, October 11, 2007

Christmas? Never Heard of It

I was trying to get to my bellydance lesson last night, sitting on the bus and waiting for it to move. This particular bus line has a habit of parking up and just sitting there for 15 minutes or half an hour, depending on how much frappe the driver feels like drinking. The result is you can always arrive in good time to get somewhere, and always end up late.

As I looked out the window, fireworks went off at the local zaxaroplasteo. I think they were celebrating however many years of business. What with it being the time of year it is, the young people cheering and the fireworks, for a moment I forgot where I was.

My mind took me back to the Home Country, where right about now everyone would be getting ready for the party of the year. Us kids would buy boxes of sparklers, bend their wires into hooks, light them up and throw them into trees. They would hang there like super fancy Christmas baubles shimmering away. Fire hazard, I hear you scream, but we had no concept of such things when it was coming up to party time.

Like in Greece, the religious heads hold a lot of power in the Home Country, more even than the powers of science, so they decide when it’s officially a new moon, not the official moon charts, which would make life a lot easier because it usually ends up with half the country celebrating on one day and the other half the day after.

I remember one particular time we were in a major city in the Home Country when the Bearded Ones announced that there was no moon and hence no party the next day. We all relaxed, since we hadn’t bought any presents for anyone anyway. At about 11 o’clock at night they changed their minds and everyone was loaded into cars to go shopping.

All the shops threw up their shutters and it was like the entire country was out laughing and celebrating. The girls flirted with the boys selling bangles, and the young men had monopolized the henna stands to have a legitimate excuse to hold a pretty girl’s hand. It was wonderful. That time in the Home Country, with the sounds, the music, the food, the happiness makes you feel like you’ll burst with either too much food or too much joy.

Watching the fireworks last night, I thought the young people were getting ready to celebrate and then I remembered where I was and to be honest I felt sad. Like Christmas, we wait all year for this party, and I felt like I’m the only person in Greece waiting.

Downtown in my bellydance class, I asked my teacher if she knew anyone in the Arab community who was celebrating. We thought of calling the tourist police but realized it was a pointless exercise.

So she called up a local Egyptian restaurant and after the usual niceties with the Greek waitress, the conversation went like so:

Teacher: “I was wondering if Ali was there because I have a question for him.”
Girl: “No he’s not but you can ask me.”
Teacher: “I have a girl here and she wanted to ask him if anything is going on for ***”
Girl: “For what thing?”
Teacher: “For ***”
Girl: “What’s that?”
Teacher: “It’s a festival, like we have Easter. She wants to know if there is a place to pray where she could find out.”
Girl: “A place to pray? For her father or something?”
Teacher: “No for her.”
Girl: “What’s this about again?”

At this point I told her never mind it was alright and I’d make some calls to various embassies. The girls in my bellydance class had listened in to the conversation on speakerphone and shook their heads. “She just didn’t want to help.” one of them said.

The big day is either going to be tomorrow or Saturday, depending on what the Bearded Men say. My family is going to be together and my sisters will be doing henna for each other. And I’ll be here, in a country where most people don’t even know what I’m talking about, with henna on one hand because I’m not ambidextrous.

I’ll make some calls today and hopefully I won’t end up all dressed up with nowhere to go. Do you see now why the 10 kids is a good idea? I’ll have my own multicultural group ready to celebrate at the drop of a hat.


Hope said...

Oh, I really hope you can get to celebrate! It sounds magical. And yes, the ten kids will definitely make life easier. You'll also have someone to henna your other hand! :)

Blackbird said...

I don't follow this religion (if you are talking about what I think you're talking about) but I grew up surrounded by it. I bought 3 packs of sparklers for tonight/tomorrow night! It won't be the same as my childhood but I still want to celebrate it.

bollybutton said...

Hi blackbird, yes that was deliberate. It's obvious what I'm talking about but I don't want this blog to be picked up in certain google searches. Family-honour-public-lynching issues.

AL said...

Hey you! I have some Rendang paste for you somewhere... cheer up OR lets pig out soon, it will be a big celebration in my homeland too, thought i don't share the religion, you know us malaysians are always waiting for the next open house to go visiting.

bollybutton said...

come to my house y'all! I've got henna and sweeties

Anonymous said...

Am I allowed to say the 'E' word?

Because if so, HAPPY EID from me! If not then don't show this post and accept my wish privately!

bollybutton said...

ED I accepted your comment and did a google search and my blog didn't appear, so tthaaaannkkkk yyoooou! :)

Anonymous said...

Why didn't you mention the name of your holiday in your blog?