Saturday, September 29, 2012
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Saturday, June 30, 2012
We are sorry for the silence on the blog, but between end of semester woes for Tala and returning to work for Riyam, it has been a very busy summer. Rest assured we have not stopped writing. Writing is central to who we are, it is a passionate drive that wakes us up every morning. We have actually been writing a lot. Tala is working on her memoire and Riyam has been contributing to This Week in Palestine and working on a tiny writing project of her own. We want to share with you the link to the latest issue of this Week in Palestine where both Tala and Riyam have published work. "My Dearest Students" is a letter written by Tala to her students at the end of a very trying semester. "For Yara" is a story about human survival written by Riyam about a mother surviving her daughter's death. Enjoy the read and we will be back on The Big Olive very soon. We are turning Two this July!!!
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Hello. I don’t suppose you recognize my voice. In fact I am quite sure you are stunned at my audacity in contacting you so early in the game. After all it has only been four months since I have joined your fearless frontlines, but if you could, just for a few minutes, listen to me, I would be forever grateful…Moherhood, you are kicking my butt, any chance you can ease up on me? I know the request is quite funny. I can only imagine your graceful, beautiful goddess self-you know the kind that glides not walks- having a hearty laugh over this rooky’s plea, my very not so graceful, disheveled, not showered for days, spit up filled shirt wearing self. I should probably not ask or pray for easier days. I should just be surprised and thankful when they do happen. Right? After all I have the toughest job in the world-I am a mother (maybe if I stand in front of the mirror, and repeat it over and over it will sink deeper into my brain, oh don’t worry my heart has no problems with it, it was sold on this new title on the first day; it is the practical part that wants everything systemized that gets challenged every now and then.)
Please know that it is not the obvious big sacrifices that are so painful to make. It certainly is not the I will become a stay at home mom for the coming seven months and give up the promotion of my life sacrifice. And it certainly is not I will choose a different career path to accommodate my new post in life-Mother. Those are obvious and come to me as second nature. It is the I will sacrifice my shower to feed my child and risk everyone avoiding me at Friday morning brunch, because I STINK. Or I will give up sleep, until the babies sleep, and risk becoming legally insane. Or I will give up an hour of rest to cook dinner early so I can feed the babies, put them to bed and have one uninterrupted meal (that NEVER works by the way). Or I will sacrifice eating altogether so I can change the babies and get them ready for their doctor’s appointment, only to arrive LATE yet again…And the list goes on..
I am sure you are in stitches over this letter and wonder why anyone would bother telling you any of this. Actually I am almost ashamed to be saying these things outloud. But I am sure that every new mother has thought about these things and was too afraid to admit them. So forgive me for asking again, can you please go easy on me, and other mothers like me. I ask you to please remember that just a few months ago, we were carefree, sometimes careless individuals who could have not fathomed holding a life in their hands. And by the way can you please ask other more trained soldiers in your frontline to stop telling the biggest white lie known to human beings? It does not get easier after the first three months. I KNOW, by now, that the shit has yet to hit the fan (excuse my French, I should probably learn new vocabulary now that I am raising children), that once those little feet hit the ground, they will hit them running and that is most certainly accompanied by cyclones of chaos, toys, and long hours of baby tv. But I am also SURE that with these tiny cyclones of madness come hurricanes of contagious laughter that can melt icebergs, and floods of excitement for the countless firsts, and endless days trips, play dates, and lunch dates with Teta, Khalto and Amto (grandma, mother’s sister, and father’s sister). I understand that the happiness that has come my way will only get bigger, louder and better…and the challenges will also get bigger, louder and harder…
Motherhood, I fully realize that my daily sacrifices seem trivial in the face of world hunger and the many starving children that do not have neither breast milk nor formula, so forgive me for my selfishness. I am also aware that given the country I live in, I am so lucky for the plethora of bounty we have, and that unlike most mothers who live elsewhere I don’t need an Oprah special to remind me of poverty, hunger, apartheid, oppression and suffering as it resides just a couple of streets away. I am fully aware of all my fellow mothers whose children are sick, or imprisoned or injured. And I KNOW that it is only a stroke of blessed fate that my children were born into this family where they will find endless nurture, love, and colorful childhood memories to cheer up an entire nation. Please know that I am thankful for the plenty of everything…
But, I still cannot help but want to ask for your help. If you could just grant me the grace, the intelligence, the patience, the compassion, the strength and most important the health to live it all, the bravery and the courage to admit not to always enjoy it all and the long life to look back and smile at it all, for me, my husband and our tiny village of loved ones helping us through it all. That is all I ask. See, quite simple isn’t it?
Thank you for entertaining my words and taking the time to listen. I think I am done for now…Oh no, rest assured you will be hearing from me again…very soon. Oh and one more thing, before I let you go, since it is mother’s day here, and I really want to bake a cake for my mother, is it too much to ask for an easy day today? Thank you, Motherhood. Talk to you soon.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Just out of curiosity, how will this work exactly? Will you provide recorded announcements clearly explaining what a passenger is to do when arriving at the next stop? I imagine a very serious deep voice with a heavy Israeli accent, coming through loud crisp speakers: “Next stop Ramallah Central Station, if you are Palestinians you may depart the train. Israeli citizens are strictly prohibited from traveling to Area A. Expatriate NGO employees will be subjected to harassment, interrogation and long hour delays the next time they depart Israel via any of its borders, should they travel to the territories.” The doors open for a few minutes then automatically close, and the train travels at high speed. Voice comes back on: “Next stop Jerusalem the Old City, welcome to a land lost, Palestinians not carrying permits are not to exit the train. Special permits are required for those wishing to pray in the Aqsa Mosque. Israelis and foreigners…Welcome to Israel!” Within seconds the train takes off again. I guess fastening your seat belt is a very good idea as the train would be traveling at high speed and considering how short these distances are, screeching halts are to be expected at every station…“Next Stop Maale Adumim: please watch for heavy New Jersey and New York accents that might shock you as you get off the train.”… “Next Stop: Abu Dis, please be advised what once used to be a suburb of Jerusalem is now nothing but a passersby corridor that leads to Bethlehem. Traveling to Area C is not recommended due to political unrest, unless you are a settler looking for a cheap mechanic to fix your car.” Of it goes again, swallowing the land with all its flashing scenes… “Next Stop: Bethlehem…the cradle of Christianity…Christian pilgrims may depart the train only if this is part of their Holy Land/Israel Tour, if you are traveling through the West Bank, please see the expatriate advisory note on harassment, and possible arrest when attempting to depart the state of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.” The train goes off again, you hang on really tight as it speeds through the hills passing one settlement after the other…. “Next stop: Kiryat Arba, please watch for armed fanatic settlers, any suspicious looking Palestinian is at risk of being shot…DEAD…in the HEAD. Also we would like to advise you not offend any incoming passengers by sitting in their seats or any seats for that matter…tell you what if you are Palestinian, we strongly recommend you move to another car, or depart the train altogether. Your life may be at serious risk…Next stop…….
Forgive me, I should probably give you a chance to explain this proposed project, I got carried away in your La La Land conjuring up fast trains carrying Palestinians, Israeli and settlers all in the same confined space. But seriously, there are so many questions that need to be answered. Who will sell the train tickets? Who will collect them? And most important how will the money be divvied up, will the Palestinian Authority keep the income that comes from tickets sold in the West Bank? Will you offer snacks? Kosher and Halal? What will the cars look like? To avoid conflict, will you designate certain areas to Palestinians and others to Israelis and settlers, perhaps the back of the car-stand only-for Palestinians? I think Rosa Park might just walk out of her grave if you do that. What about security? Isn’t that your main concern always….security…Israel’s right to defend itself? How will you maintain it, railroad checkpoints? “Next stop a random railroad checkpoint, the train will come to a sudden and forceful stop; you may lose balance and drop your belongings on the floor. Please watch out for any luggage that may fall off from the overhead compartments. Palestinian Authority passport carriers please step out of the train for random check…this check is for your own security and safety. So what if you feel disrespected and humiliated. Security comes first…” Oops I am sorry, here I go again…did not give you the chance to quite explain… Just one more thing and I hate to be the one to rain on your parade of great imagination (you should genuinely consider writing the next Harry Potter series with this imagination), but in order to build the railroad track, won’t you confiscate more land like you did when you built the bypass roads? Again I hate to be a party pooper here, but if you keep confiscating lands, there will be no place for us to live don’t you think? Or wait is that the point? The aim? The goal? "Next Stop…Diaspora…”
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
If you live in Ramallah, belong to a large family and enjoy an ever larger circle of friends, you would know exactly what it takes to put together a dinner party. We were getting ready to introduce our new twins to our group of friends. No easy feat I might tell you as in Palestine the birth of a baby is cause of celebration on multiple levels. While people are expected to come visit and bring gifts, you in return are expected to have a decadent line up of sweets and tiny gifts filled with chocolate to give away. While I would say we had an incredible line up of desserts from the very special Careway drink karawyeh to knafeh, kollaj and other sweets lined up for well wishers, we still had the daunting feat of inviting our closest friends for a get-to-know our babies dinner. When I say closest friends the number is not less than twenty guests and can easily exceed thirty adults, that is, not counting the children. Such was the case this past Thursday. Our guest list was full, our menu was complete and preparations were well under way at least two days in advance. The multiple course meal includen oven roasted meat with 7ashweh rice (spiced rice covered with minced meat and roasted almonds and pine nuts), roasted chicken with potatoes for those none meat eaters, and stuffed kusa and dawaly (zuchine and grape leaves). For starters it was tabouleh, salats arabiyyeh (Arabic Salad), and hummus. And for dessert…..mmmmmm dessert…..the most essential part of a meal, like the end note in a symphony, the last few words in an ever enchanting novel, the perfect end to a long day…Dessert, the part most people skip, but really should be the part all people never ever miss. For dessert I pulled out the big guns…moist chocolate cake, strawberry jello cake (it is strawberry season and the time is perfect to serve this cake) and my absolute master piece, my mother’s very special recipe: Ka3ket Al-Lawz Al-Latheetha (Delicious Almond Cake)….which is indeed delicious. After everyone ate, drank laughed and caught up. Our dessert buffet was rolled out, and pieces of chocolate cake, strawberry cake were carefully cut and served. Then came the night’s star, warm and ready to serve I brought out the almond cake…
The cake batter is very simple with sugar, canola oil, and flour mixed together in equal amounts, eggs are then added ( 4 eggs when using 1.5 cups of sugar), baking powder and a dash of baking soda. The topping is ground raw almonds sprinkled generously on top. After the batter is prepared, it is spread thin on one of the oven pans that come with it. The almonds are sprinkled generously all over, and then it is baked at 175 C for about 20-25 minutes. You know it is done when the almonds have a tinge of golden brown in them. Pull out of the oven and immediately soak with kater (sugar glaze). Serve warm and watch the happy faces around you melt into the crunch, the warmth, the sweet and the absolutely soft. Enjoy the flood of seconds requests from everyone, even those who are watching their sugar intake. This cake warms you up and lifts your spirits. It is like falling asleep and waking up in your lover’s arms every morning. It comforts and reassures you that life is still good. It reminds you that on cold winter days, with the winds howling outside your windows, it is the little things in life that warm you from the inside out. I love this cake for all its goodness. I love that this is a recipe my mother shared with me years ago, and now that I have a home and children I can share it with them. I love the flood of childhood memories that rush through me as I take the first bite, because when I cook, and every time I cook, I want to recreate a memory, a thought a feeling that I once had. And this past Thursday, I loved serving this cake to our guests and loved watching their faces react to the burst of sweet inside their mouth. It was only appropriate that a taste of my childhood was served to mark the beginning of my children’s life. Here is to many cold winters, to a busy kitchen, and countless times of baking this almond cake and watching the happy faces look back at you with gratitude and satisfaction. Here is to creating a childhood taste for my children….
interested in the full recipe please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org