stone soup. yedingay shorba

Below is the ferenj version of the story of the stone soup:

The etyopian version, well it is not so much a story as an aphorism —tagash yedingay shorba yiTeTal. This expression was made famous–at least in our circle–by Sami. The circle in question–or what’s left of it–comes together every several years.  In one such recent occasion, the story of the soup got the chance to be brought up again.

The four of us (two of the chicks, Sami and I) are kicking it with Mona’s mom and dad. Even under normal conditions, when you have brought Sami along, there would be no shortage of topics of conversations. But when Sami decides to bring along his outrageous dreads (Lord forgive that boy!), well then you know it is going to be topic bonanza. This song, Ganja Bonanza, is ringing in my head; but that does not mean Sami smokes weed. He’s just confused; or maybe he has got a lot of useful thoughts and he is trying to reach out to the world with his hair; share with us multidimensional pieces of his mind; or  he may recently have picked up the bible and stumbled uponThe Book of Judges; or maybe he’s just plain confused.

Dad is amazed by Sami’s dexterity with the Amharic language that he asks what his major in college was. Of course, all four of us are thallophyters (that is biologists for the uninitiated.) It’s testimony time from his friends and I jump in. I quote him on, what I believe is, one of his finest  utterances viz. the stone soup and patience. Mom and dad join us in our chorus of plaudits for the saying and the one who said it.  I credit the stone soup with being the one thing that keeps me going when I get frustrated by my haplessness (and helplessness) on matters pertaining to the fairer sex.

Sami goes on to heap insult to injury. He likens my excruciating vigil at the gates of love to that of a cat which waits on end for a mouse to come out of its burrow.

But it is all good. Once we have said farewell to our wonderful hosts, we were out on the streets, laughing it out, referring to potential targets as mice.

Unrelated; or a bit related…

When I came to Bahir Dar, I had told myself and others that it was going to be for three years.  After that, the plan was to pursue (it sounds as if I am chasing a paper and it is running for dear life) further education, or having failed to do that, relocate to a different part of the country. There was also that subliminal mission to be accomplished in those three years –I was to sow my oats. I’ve had it all figured out. From what I had heard, all I needed to bring was a copulatory organ and the girls in Bahir Dar were going to do the rest –initiation, follow through, the whole enchilada. A magazine with “Gonder and Bahir Dar: Bewesib YekeleTu Ketemoch” for a front cover teaser springs to mind. That was to be my life.

I hate it when Gonder is written as Gondar. It gives the impression that Bahir Dar and Gon Dar are twin cities or something.

Now it has been well nigh three years. And since the only oats I have been dealing with thus far is the one that I eat for breakfast, I believe it is high time for change. Kind of bide my destiny at a different location. I should move on before my attachment with Ba Da grows and makes it harder for me to leave.

And the nominees are (drum rolls)

With shared pros of newness and dusty roads and salty water for respective cons, ladies and gentlemen, damas y caballeros, I give you Jimma and Mekelle. Give it up for them.

There is also that lurking wish shared with almost every other member of the Etyopian intelligentsia (if I may dare call myself that) of going abroad and pursuing…

Why am I telling you all this? I am doing it for myself. I am using it as a public reminder for myself that I have got to make a change in my life in many respects; that I must beat my fear of the unknown which has started to creep up on me now that the deadline is looming; something that goes “but you told everybody that you were going to…” when I start to get cold feet (like I know I will).  I need to be prepared for and do what each of my possible alternate situation may require of me. And I am a Gemini and we are supposed to multitask.

This past three days have been disappointing in that I’ve been struggling to get into the rhythm of getting even the smallest of things done. (“The grand scheme of things thrives on the smaller stuff” Somebody. Somewhere.)

So get cracking!


gone gena

Going home for Gena armed with a to-do-list having 41 things on it. Well, first on the list was “make a to-do-list”, which I managed to cross out without delay, and with an immense sense of self-satisfaction. The stuff in there is diverse; some I have to do before I leave, and the others, while in Addis Abeba: taking the mobile charger home, drinking filter Tela in exhibition center, buying return tickets before they are sold out, lidet, leqso, herbals from Ariti, coffee from Robera, leaving keys with people, find a quote that has to do with gout, wezete wezete.

The beauty of to-do-lists lies not only in their service as useful reminders (of sometimes useless stuff) but also in the ease with which one can compose them. A piece of paper and a pen in one’s pocket is all what it takes.

I’ll tell you what is difficult to compose –“a done-list”. Lives are spent making an endless list of wishes, needs, desires, … , all the while paying little or no attention to the things that have been achieved, to the things that really matter, to Providence.

I know that instead of counting my blessings, kicking back and enjoying the holiday, my mind and body will be running hither and thither, trying to cross out an additional thing from the list. However, trite as it may seem, the fact that I am going back home to a family that, to borrow an expression from Arrow of God, is “quiet” , is top of my done-list, and by miles too.


And oh, asina bel asina genaye 🙂

mithat, asmat… you best believe the hype!

magic you don’t believe in

I ask you how come

when there is distance in between

I ebb, am unwholesome

and when you are near

no wand

just a hand, a touch

I, as the world knows me

as you made me


no abracadabra either

my name through your lips

with all the petals of my being

towards you, my sun, I blossom

crystal balls

what need do you have for them ?!

the future lies in your eyes

my reflection in them

is the best person I have ever been

ever will be

they are twice the affirmation

twice the promise

screw magic carpets!

I know

your feet carry thoughts of me

everywhere that you go

so, next time you walk around

on God’s green earth

blissfully ignorant of your powers

feel ordinary

just remember this

if it were the 17th century, they would have burned you alive

you’ve been put on earth

to prove yourself wrong

I salute my unassuming teacher

now we are a couple of sorcerers

and then I wake up


This is the first post from Addis Ababa in over 28 months.

42. Selam! Tibebe ebalalehu; leba negn.

I try not to visit other blogs regularly lest my posts start to resemble those written by bloggers whose steelo I take a liking to. True, I often use the random redirection feature of WordPress to compare blog stats but often that is about it. But no matter how I try to appear original, I know somebody out there has already said what I so pompously post as my latest entry. The last statement’s inspiration, I mooched off this lady’s blog . I read a few of her posts and ……. humbling and intimidating! Some people sure have a picturesque way of writing. 

Sami saw the entry before last and kind of suggested that the brilliant idea about “humpers without borders” was his. I remember discussing it with him, as I do some of the material up in this with some people, but I am not sure who cosigned with whom. So sue me, Sami! ( by the way he has told me that next week , he is going to leave for Bale Mountains’ National Park to work on his project entitled ”Running with the Red Wolves”; good luck man!) And may this serve as a disclaimer to anyone and everyone, in the past present or future-if it looks like that I have stolen your idea/s, it is probably because I have, knowingly/unknowingly. Deal with it! 

Bright ideas are neither created nor destroyed; they are just thought some brain else and posted some blog else. 

Now that we have got that little detail out of the way, I can finally write about the things I saw and heard.  I visited an exhibition that showcases the history of The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church. What I liked the most was the guides –they know their stuff. There was plenty of interesting things to see but without those fellows the 2hrs+ affair would have taken its toll on me. 

I attended the Ibero-American film festival; saw five films –four in Spanish one in Portuguese -all with subtitles—. I used to think Venezuela was all about beauty queens, oil resources and Hugo Chavez. Tocar y luchar (to play and to fight) has added a fourth dimension to that perception. In almost every community throughout the country there are orchestras composed of people who grow up learning music from as little as four years old. One of the founders of the scheme said “… An orchestra is the only place where people come together with the sole purpose of agreeing with each other. ….”  Midway through the documentary, I was musing if the same could happen in Ethiopia. There is an undertone of a consensus in many circles and rectangles that in groups Ethiopians function badly or not at all except in comer y luchar (to eat and to fight).  But the “sad” reality is that we can not have wars all the time and if “ho blen lelimat bandinet ketenesan”, then we would be insanely and self–absorbedly rich that we won’t have to eat together nomore. Moreover, I feel little is being done to bring about a national psyche while there is too much exertion on constituents.  

The millennium might just be a godsend in that respect but we need more to make us feel that we are part of this unique assembly of people called Ethiopians. Seeing the film like I have seen it, one would probably have to agree what better way to instill a sense of belongingness from an early age than music. It may seem an expensive undertaking given our always to blame poverty, but what isn’t?

 Memorable people from the other films- two old guys from soldados de Salamis (the soldiers of Salamis) and the forest (a selva)… can’t a guy  forget?  I have to say eneza shimagilewoch have aged full of delightful cynicism; and one of them hardly speaks!   

Memorable scene, hands or rather hoofs down- the one where this guy has intercourse with a horse. The part of the violated equine was played by a stunt horse. 

 Annoyance – the assholes at the back that talked and giggled through two films; and I sat there aching for the day when I shall finally flip out on people like them, speeding taxi drivers inclusive. 

And now…the irony section: 

A neon sign inside a bakery reads”Behulet shih Ethiopia kealem mahibereseb gar yalatin wodagignet tagolebitalech!” From bread point of view, our relationship with the international community had for the most part been based on them giving us wheat or money to buy/produce it with. And from bread point of view, I rather we did not strengthen our cooperation with other folks.   

 The intro to “gebi” (a radio programme on tax) is/used to be?  Usher’s nice and slow. It would go “…. you know I am coming over right? ……. wear that little thing I like …..”  A bid to make tax sound romantic? 

 Gotta split! It is the idea police! 


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