Today in Gaza…

Column – Julie Webb-Pullman

Today in Gaza…

…there was electricity all morning!! The first thing I look at when I open my eyes each day is the LED torch, to see if its charging light is on…will I be able to have a hot shower or not? Do the laundry? Check my emails? Send a story? Should I call the office and see if they have power, which will determine whether I go in, or work from home?

How quickly the parameters of life reduce, to be proscribed by such a comparatively recent invention. Perhaps the Bedouin are right to stay where they are, with skills honed over thousands of years to survive the vagaries of their environment, adapting their lives to fit within it rather than trying to make it fit theirs…

When my power went off, off I went – to the office. As the taxi turned into Mokhtar Street we passed a horse and cart loaded with fresh garlic. I wanted to get the driver to stop so I could buy some, but I thought the other passengers may not be quite so keen – besides, my Arabic doesn’t stretch that far, and by the time they understood what I wanted, we would be sure to be at least a kilometre down the road…

Instead, I got the driver to drop me at the falafel shop and bought two ‘sandwiches’ – small pita breads stuffed with falafel and salad, with humus and chilli sauce – no French fries or pickled veg for me! I sat in the women’s section to eat them and a little boy at the next table, with his mother and two of her friends, maybe aunts, was shelling fresh peas and eating them. I said hello, and he shyly hid behind his mum, but minutes later he appeared at my side with a fist full of peas, and put them on my plate.

“Yum!” I said, and began to shell and eat them. That was it – he went back and forwards, putting handfuls of peas in front of me every time I thought I had finished. It was lucky his fists were still small, or I would probably have eaten the entire family’s lunch! They were delicious – fresh, young sweet peas, crisp and tasting of spring.

Oh well, I thought, I missed out on the garlic but got peas instead.

Later that afternoon as I walked home, I passed the vege shop near my house – and in pride of place out the front was a huge stand of freshly dug garlic – big plump purple cloves exuding an amazing garlic perfume into the street. I bought two big cloves, and some tomatoes to go with them.

This was surely my lucky day!!

I didn’t even mind when I got home to find there was no power…..


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