Dienstag, 29. April 2014

America is...

Californian diary, part 3 (part 1, part 2)

America is very big.

"Everyzing is verry big in zis countrry", said my father jokingly, mocking a typical German accent, after I told him about my first visit to the US two years ago. Yes, everything is very big in this country.

Big cities, vast landscapes, a country that covers half a continent. Six different timezones. Six-lane highways. In each direction. 

Icecream scoops big enough to feed two. When in doubt, always ask for the kids portion. Never order anything large. The American small is the European big-enough.

Two kilogram yoghurt pots, four litre milk bottles. Microwaves, ovens, dustbins three times the size of their European equivalents. A fridge as big as my bathroom.

A bag of chocolates weighing as much as five German chocolate bars for Lieschen.

Large, not to say fat, people. A huge American flag flapping in the wind. America is big.

Donnerstag, 24. April 2014

Palestine in California

Californian diary, part 2 (part 1)

As soon as we enter the shop, it smells like Palestine. It must be some of the spices, zaatar perhaps? it's been some time, crazy how odours can take you back to a place thousands of miles away. It smells like zaatar, the butcher behind the meat corner in the back of the shop speaks with an Arab accent and in the background some young Arab woman sings a catchy pop tune on the radio. A little bit of Palestine in California. It's hot outside on the street, April in LA is like August in London, but cool inside the shop, thank God for ACs.

Fresh oranges (60 cent the kilogram ... this is California, baby!), bananas, apples, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, bundles of cilandro, basil and dill are piled up to your right. Deep-frozen meat and sausages, all halal, in the huge freezers to your left. Colourful hijabs and abayahs in one corner; the exact same kind of biscuits my friend from Gaza would have for breakfast in Ramallah in another. Two oversized Easter bunnies look down on us customers from the top of one of the huge shelves. There is one aisle with South Asian spices and specialities and one with Turkish delicatessen, to cater to all those who are kind of from that same corner of the world.

Living in the Southwest of the US of A, in an air-conditioned beige house with a car and a garage in the front and the small garden in the back that no-one ever uses anyway. Living in the Southwest of the US of A, buying a little bit of home. Or what used to be home. Or what used to be my parents' home. Because I have only ever been to Palestine once and when I walked over al-Manara in my baggy jeans they called me al-Amreeki.

Dienstag, 22. April 2014

The journey

Californian diary, part 1

When my 100-year-old grandmother's uncle left for the US some time in the late 19th or early 20th century, it was the last time he saw his parents. Letters took weeks, if not months, visits were not really an option.

Today we hop on a plane (ok, one bus, one coach, two planes, and a car) ... and 24 hours later, instead of rainy England we're in sunny California.

Waiting to board the plane in London-Heathrow. A group of loud, bored, fat, white, inconsiderate teenagers walk by. Everything I hate about America. Oh no, we're going to the US... Boarding the plane. Blonde stewardess with red lipstick and a huge smile. Friendly welcome, a wink to Lieschen. She has the same accent as my American friend Mary. Who studied in four universities and speaks five languages. Everything I love about America. Yay, we're going to the US...!

On the plane. Indians to my left, Indians to my right. Germans in the row in front of us. French in the aisle. God-another-seven-hours-on-this-plane conversations with a drunk Scot who hates extremists but doesn't mind Muslims and an Englishman who lives in the States. Discussions about Scottish independence (yes or no), Germans in the UK (us) and Brits in the US (them), South Asian (me) and American (him) spouses. About kids. That grow up somewhere in between.

Landing. Queues. Security. Border agency guys who all have the same strange humour. PhD student from England, originally from Germany, exams coming up in May, right answers, passport stamped, you're in.

Relief. Not that there was any reason, but I'm worried every time. And think of those who didn't make it.

Nina was sent back. Housewife from Romania, going to join husband from Nigeria, no good enough reasons to go back, wrong answers, out.

And that's just us, who can afford a plane ticket, not one of the thousands who try to climb fences, outsmart guards, brave the desert sun...

Dallas. Texas. Yeehaw!

Tired. Late night here, early morning there. Yet another plane. Couple of more hours.

LA. Hello Golden State. Hello US.

Samstag, 5. April 2014

Wir müssen schreien, sonst hört man uns nicht

Frauenwiderstand in der DDR der 1980er Jahre 

1. April 2014  bis  31. Mai 2014 
Montag bis Freitag, 9 bis 20 Uhr 
Reformhaus Halle (Treppenhaus), Große Klausstraße 11, Halle (Saale)

"Die Plakatausstellung zum Frauenwiderstand in der DDR erzählt „eine Geschichte vom Sprechen lernen, Verantwortung übernehmen, von Solidarität und der Verteidigung der Menschenwürde in einer Gesellschaft, die von Willkür und Lüge beherrscht wurde“. So beschrieb Bärbel Bohley im Rückblick eine Widerstandsgeschichte, die vor nunmehr dreißig Jahren begann."

Mehr? Hier.