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!

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3. Sostegnaw tsihuf ….184 days to go

I interrupt my regular blogging to bring you a special announcement.
Happy birthday Betty!
Wishing you the best life has got to offer on both sides of the millennium and looking forward to staying on the same page with you though we might be in different continents.

Today’s is the third blog post proper that I have written on this site. And all the three posts have been influenced by things that come in threes. You know what they say, “third time is a charm ‘’. I hope to write something good this time.

The Chinese believe that the number 8 brings luck:
Telephone number 8888-8888 was sold for USD$270,723 in Chengdu
The Summer Olympics in Beijing are scheduled to open on 8/8/08 at 8:08:08 p.m
A man in Hangzhou offered to sell his license plate reading A88888 for 1.12 million yuan
Dragon Fish Industry in Singapore, a breeder of rare Asian Arowanas (which are “lucky fish” themselves, and, being a rare species, are required to be microchipped), makes sure to use numbers with plenty of eights in their microchip tag numbers, and appears to reserve particularly numbers especially rich in eights and sixes (e.g. 702088880006688) for particularly valuable specimens.

I was watching the Oscars and there was Peter O’Toole, who has been nominated eight times but had never won. Then the host (Ellen Degeneres) says that he could win this year: after all “third time is a charm”. A cruel joke, and he did not get lucky either.

Let me take you one thousand nine hundred and ninety seven digits away from the number three. Two thousand – I want to talk about the Ethiopian Millennium .It so happens that today, putting Pagume aside, marks halfway to the end of this year., I am a bit skeptical of our preparation as a nation. There are plans and talk here and there but I am not feeling the action. Why wait until Sene to start the celebrations? Given our tardiness aiming for right about now would have been probably better to start actually doing things on Sene. Better yet, why haven’t we celebrated all the thirteen months? Our mediocrity (not our poverty) is making a golden break pass us by. By the end of the year, I am afraid that there will be nothing much special to make Ethiopians feel that they have celebrated the occasion in style, as a people.

I expected a lot in terms of creative ways of marking the event but not forthcoming. 80 million people and what we have to show for 2G is a few thematic garments and jewelry? That’s where I have seen the most creativity. A national council has been established to oversee the celebration. There is the countdown clock at the gates of the Sheraton and even ETV has started counting down the days. The Diasporas have setup some websites about the subject (e.g. http://www.ethiopianmillennium.com ). Still, we need more schemes and events that can rise to the occasion.
For the sake of argument, let us assume that we have managed to come up with a decent and achievable national plan (it is not often that we do). Then three months would be too little time to cram all of the planned happenings into.
Just yesterday, a friend brought to my attention a new way of giving someone the middle finger. Raise the three middle fingers and say “read between the lines”. Nice, ain’t it?
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