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!


here i go again

Tomorrow I will be going to Addis Abeba for fasika. And I could just picture how it is going to play out:

I will end today feeling a bit sad that I would be leaving Bahir Dar. I have got full confidence in my biological clock that I do not set the  alarm. I wake up about five times during the night. When it is finally time, I …

Before that I need to pack. So this evening, I try to fit as many things as possible in my backpack. Some people have got brain power to help them rearrange things in a space saving manner. And other people have got knee and elbow power. So I knee and elbow the bag into submission.

I have dreams in which the bus has left without me and I am following it like “noooooooo…” and then I realize it is a dream and I wake up and see what time it is.

So when it is finally time (time, in this case, is around 3 a.m. because I would be taking the notorious 5 L ?- Aba Dula mini bus which has got a respectable safety record of two in three. Maybe this was why I have been blogging about dying. But I can’t die! Not now!  Today I was made an uncle for the eighth time.)  I take an anti emetic and wait for the minibus to arrive – a good thing about the Aba Dula is that they pick you up. All the while I would be hoping if someone hot would be sitting next to me, and somehow, somehow, we would strike up a conversation that would hopefully lead to filling her up if we happen to be sitting in the back seat. I mean, around ten hours on the road with someone, I should be able to break my own resistance and something has got to give.

Now I am in the mini bus and am listening to mezmur on my mobile (come on, it’s Passion Week!) and waiting goh eskiqed. To my chagrin, the breaking dawn reveals an old man or woman sitting next to me. Sunrise is soooo overrated!

But fret not! I knew this would happen. And that is why I have brought along a book to keep me company and to stave off undesired conversation.

I pray we do not make a stopover at Fiche. Here is my best memory of this town. Once we were coming from Addis Abeba and we stopped there for breakfast. A waiter comes and I order dulet  for lack of anything made of wheat. He comes and goes for a while, sometimes with the orders of other people. And he keeps on reassuring me that the dulet is on its way. Ten minutes later, I lose my patience and ask him more forcefully, and he tells me “dulet alqual lela neger ezezu” I went out and bought Nas biscuits.

Lately some people have been commenting “betam amrobihal! lemehonu mestawet tayaleh?”  They may be teasing but anyway I answer: “sew limot sil yamribetal”.


Provided I make it home safely, hugging my mom and dad is expected to feel so nice. And there is a brand new member in the family to boot. An hour after my arrival, the novelty wears off and I settle right in. Days pass and I am getting more settled and then comes the eve of my departure. I hate that night. No matter how long I have stayed in Bahir Dar, I just can’t look forward to returning.

On the return trip, I am strategizing on how best to write a post on the numerous chicks in tight jeans that I saw in Addis Abeba. After a stopover at my friend’s, I go to my shack to find plastic cups strewn all over the floor – the mice held I don’t know how many house parties. I wish they at least  had the decency to clean up their mess.

And some time later, I do it all over again


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