Cracked Nuts...


I was at the grocer's yesterday...hate shopping but my fridge was kind of totally empty...I know I need to lose a few pounds, but starvation is not on the menu. So I really forced myself to walk to the grocery store, a 20 mn walk from where am at.

I resented the fact that am not allowed to drive here, resented the fumes from the car exhaust pipes filling my lungs with lead, resented the lack of pavements, resented the holes and craters in the streets, resented the fact that I have to debate for 30 mn or so what is appropriate or not appropriate dress code...

Knowing the tight frontiers, almost everything is not appropriate short of stuffing your head in a veil...but then it takes courage to dare and affirm some identity. So it takes creativity to play around and work your way with these frontiers, imposed frontiers...

Anyways, so I finally made it outside the door filled with resentment and apprehension. Fear of falling into another hole, choking from the fumes, harassed for playing with frontiers...or simply bombarded with horns from car drivers, small blasts that overtake you by surprise and leave you in a startled state wondering where did the bomb go off...Then you remind yourself, it's nothing but a car horn.

I decided I was not going to let myself be sucked in by the negativity, I was going to make it a thoroughly enjoyable experience. So I programmed myself to see the positive everywhere...OK, it was not coming but I kept at it, until I reached the grocery store.

Let it be a sensual experience, I said to myself. I walked into the over cooled small shop, felt like walking into an Alaskan breeze. Was freezing.

What happened to the old fashioned fans ? You know the ones that hang from the ceiling. Why is everyone so much into AC's ? I hate those fucking AC's. I like fans. I remember lying in bed and watching it going round and round taking me into a hypnotized trance. I loved the swirling of fans from the ceilings.
Movement -- moving the air, moving the energy, instead of that stale AC that just blows cold air, indiscriminately... Mass cold air from the North.

So I was saying -- I was about to transform it into a sensual experience and I did.

It is the small pleasures of life that are important. So this is what you need to do when you walk into a grocery store (not supermarkets).

You close your eyes and get into a olfactory mode first. It takes a couple of seconds. Then you blink again and get into a visual mode. The colors become brighter. Then you blink again and program yourself to get into an auditive mode. This exercise is called tuning in your senses. In other words -- shake that numbness off your shoulders.

And it works. The olives looked bigger and greener. The cheese smelled as if the goat, cow, sheep was around the corner. The almonds looked beautiful and you could contemplate their shapes for hours. And look at those walnuts. Perfectly made. And the smell of thyme mixed with sesame seeds, embraced me and took me to those lovely hills, where the sunset takes on a perfect gold color, just like the olive oil in those bottles in front of me. Shining, pure undiluted gold.

Told the young man behind the counter -- I want it All.

- All?

- Yes All and smiled. Of course I could not tell him I wanted the hills, the sunset, and the almond, walnut and olive trees...

He smiled back - a rare occurrence here. He probably thought I was on drugs or something. You can have it All if you can afford it was his reply.

- OK then let me taste a bit of All. So he offered me a few olives, a bit of feta cheese, a few almonds and walnuts. I had to taste what I was going to buy first.

Delicious. The programming worked. The green olives transported me to the hills, and the thick olive oil and lime in which they soaked gave them this little bitter edge, just a reminder of beauty always being tinged with a little bitterness.

The cheese was just right. Not too salty and its pure untainted whiteness reminded me of the buffalo cream I had back home. It looked like snow, a thick snow covering the grounds and hiding the ugliness of its washed out grayish brown.

Now came the turn for the almonds. I love almonds, both green and dried. They too have this slight bitter taste tinged to them. A reminder again.

Now came the walnuts. Two kinds were exposed. Local and American made. The local walnuts looked smaller, a bit out of shape, a darker brown...

The American walnuts looked big, a much lighter brown, well built, well shaped, they looked more appetizing...

At that point, my auditive mode highly tuned, heard an accent I recognize all so well. Here comes a tall, handsome man, with an Iraqi accent from Mosul. He was buying something for his daughter. I did not look, I just saw him from the corner of my eyes...It was enough. An air of anonymous familiarity suddenly pervaded me. And an inner smile shone through, a homesickness slightly abated...

- Let me taste those walnuts, I said

- Which ones the American or the local ?

- Let me taste the American ones first -- as if I needed to.


He handed me this half walnut that looked big, well built, in good shape and put it in the palm of my hand. I picked it up, looked at it one more time and took it slowly to my lips. Sniffed it first a little and put it in my mouth.

Damn, Damn! It has this old stale, molded, rotten taste. That took me out of my sensual mode right back to reality.

- What the hell is that? This tastes rotten despite the appearances. Disgusting!

At that point, the man from Iraq said in a very loud voice in his strong Moslawee accent and he did take me by surprise.

Is there anything American that is not rotten ? Anything at all ? Everything American is rotten.

I felt of surge of hopeful beauty rising up in me again, tinged with the bitter sadness in his voice...The inner smile I had initially felt inside of me, moved up and lit my face like the golden colored olive oil trapped in the bottles in front of me.

I turned to him and said "You said it. Thank you for making my day"

I then asked the young man to let me taste the local walnuts. He placed several in the palm of my hands, treating them with nonchalance. They were cheaper than the American ones. He could afford to dispose of them more generously...

I looked at them nesting in my hand - small, dark brown and out of shape compared to the ones made in America. I took one to my mouth and the taste -- a wonderful velvety taste, fresh, smelling of the earth, no staleness to them, no mold, no rot...and this small, out of shape nut managed to over ride and dispel the taste of the bigger rotten nut, the American one.

I will take local anytime, I said to the young man - to his utter displeasure.

I paid for the olives, the cheese, the almonds and the local walnuts and walked out into the warm evening breeze, into the car fumes, the holes in the streets, the car horns, across the tight frontiers and borders...back home.


P.S: Sorry, forgot to wish you a Happy Independence Day - Yesterday...


Art Work: Ceramics by Iraqi artist, Waleed.R.Al Quaisi --"Untitled Form"

Comments

karlmarx said…
KARLMARXWASRIGHT--Great blog!!!
Anonymous said…
EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!
Anonymous said…
You were VERY lucky that there were those delicious local nuts to take the bad taste out of your mouth.

What was the sick idea of even wanting to try the American ones, when they are well known to be disgusting ?
Kosta said…
So the 'unpretentious' walnut tasted better.
As we say, "more show than go".

I'm not sure if this is relevant to Walnuts'American style'
But here's some PHILANTHROPY 'American Style'.
http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2008-07-03-spielbergfoundation_N.htm
Anonymous said…
Exquisite....right down to the nuts and bolts
S.
G.Gar said…
A beautiful post. You have actually made me hungry:):)
Anonymous said…
amre el-muppet clean that dirty mind of urs. layla wudnt let u "eat" her for the world. stop dreaming. jerk.
Anonymous said…
hi layla!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous said…
I would not have tasted the American walnuts because they were American ,Even if they looked better . You are more flexible than me i guess .
Anonymous said…
anon above u r even more disgusting than the american walnuts.
do u think people r stupid n dont get the hidden meaning of ur little dig abt being "flexible" ?
drop dead.
G.Gar said…
Jr,

It is you who should clean that dirty mind of yours. Being hungry here denotes how talented the writer is.
Anonymous said…
As soon as you mentioned the American walnuts it was so obvious what was coming next: the walnuts tasted horrible! What a shocker. It was an otherwise good post but far too predictable regardless of what your lackeys/flunkies say.
Anonymous said…
Jr
the dirty mind is Yours. Amr was hungry because Layla mentioned Olives, cheese, walnuts ,etc.. these kind of food make any Arabs mouth water .
Anonymous said…
amre el-dickhead...dont u try 2 play it clever with me. i know u. uve done nothing here but sexually tease layla 4 the past couple of years. luckily shes got a real pal like me to keep u in ur place. now piss off.
Anonymous said…
anon above u obviously dont know amre el-pervert n his very special twisted way with words. go back 2 sleep.
Anonymous said…
layla plz can u resume showing up regularly ? thnx.
Anonymous said…
yes my dear Layla you have resilience! It is like a memory of time I had so maybe too I am a member of your great tribe somewhere in my genes...
Jocelyn
Anonymous said…
Hi Layla!
I'm the first time here and must admit that your blog is great. Thanks for showing your life. Your inner one and this one which is around you. By the way, I'm Polish and very eager to know your culture better so keep continue the great work.
Oh, and one more thing...that's very kind of that you've wished Happy Independence Day (to the Americans) but honestly we (all who are able to think more "clearly") have to say one thing...-to celebrate Independence first you have to be independent, you have to be free. Are we??? And I'm not telling only about people of suffering Iraq. It is about America, about Europe (look at this shitty "Lisbon Treaty" which wants to take our freedom from us)
Thank God there are more and more people who do not afraid to tell the truth and fight for their right to be free...
Peace and love to all!
Adam
Anonymous said…
Wake up Arabs ! Up on your feet !Out from the mud that clamps you up to your knees.
Why do you lean on hopes that are treachery,
if death already grips you ?
God is the greatest, what is this sleep ?
Come on, out of this bed, get in the whirlwind !
Anonymous said…
"Ibrahim Al-Yaziji" above you are a poor deluded fool but then you already know it don't you.
Layla Anwar said…
Karl Marx,

I've been thinking about you and I think you should move to GREECE, VERY soon. I just see you there, basking in the sun and debating historical materialism...
Thanks for the accolade :-)
Layla Anwar said…
in search,

Thank you. May I ask what you're searching for ? Reader's pseudo never fail to pique my curiosity.
Layla Anwar said…
anonymous no.1

To answer your question -- remember I was in a heightened sensuous mode. Bigger is better - the illusion. Quite handy to write about, don't you think ?
Layla Anwar said…
phoneyid,

I am a partial disciple of Shumacher, the first one to write "Small is beautiful." - No pun intended.
Layla Anwar said…
S,

My, that was a clever! I bet you're a tough nut to crack. :-)
Layla Anwar said…
Amre Al-Abyad,

You know the saying in Arabic and I suppose it is valid in all languages -- The eyes eat before the stomach!!!
Layla Anwar said…
JR !!!

What a surprise! I'v missed your one liners. I see you're up and about --- is the wife on holiday these days ?
Be nice to Amre. He's a GOOD GOOD guy.

Otherwise, how you've been ? Long time no see. Paternity has its toll, I suppose.
Layla Anwar said…
anonymous no.2

I keep testing, is that flexibility ?
Layla Anwar said…
no sympathy,

You're too fucking predictable...no sympathy.
Layla Anwar said…
Hiya Jocelyn,

WE belong to a higher tribe that has no race or nationality. Resilience is our trademark.
Layla Anwar said…
Hi Adam,

Thank you for visiting and welcome to my blog.
Maybe you're not aware of my writing style yet...I use much sarcasm and double talk...So there is no "independence day" for me.
How is Poland doing these days -- hardly read anything about it. All quiet on the eastern front ?
Layla Anwar said…
talking to walls and last anonymous...

Hmmmm, is there some secret deal going on here ?

And who is Ibrahim al?
Anonymous said…
Thanks, Layla - the bit about the walnuts is ever so true. Some people tend to have this misperception that anything 'made in the USA' should be 'good' (and, often, the origin is China, but they're too ignorant to go that far in their thinking!). USan walnuts tend to be crumbly and almost always rancid! Personally, I don't buy anything made in USA.

Jr., you're back! It's nice to see you again! I guess the baby is getting independent now!

In solidarity, Layla.
Anonymous said…
Ibrahim Al-Yaziji was a famous Lebanese writer of the XIX century, one of the pioneers of the literary Nahda.

I thought you were a well-read woman ?
Anonymous said…
Talking to the walls

A Well read woman does not have to be an All read woman...
With such an attitude,it's no surprise that you're talking to the walls!!!

S
Anonymous said…
American commercially grown walnuts suck,just like most of what comes out of this decadent,decayed head of the world empire !!!

And what's more they've been sterilized,so that they will not grow once you plant them,they rot,and smell bad.How fitting...
Layla Anwar said…
Hiya Little Deer,

The bit about all being made in China made me laugh...It's true!
By the way, have you been getting my mails -- a lot of them are being lost in Cyberspace, so am told.
Layla Anwar said…
Talking to Walls,

Who told you am a learned Woman?
Besides with your 'knowledge' shining through ever so brightly, we all pale in comparison...
Tell you what, why don't you go and bang that pedantic head of yours against a wall, maybe it will finally reply.
Good day.
Anonymous said…
The Sunni refugee was admitted to a Creative Writing offered by the United Nations. The "harvard" for baathis...
Anonymous said…
you transported me there to the store. i want to eat now too.

a
Anonymous said…
a,

avoid American walnuts please.

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