I live alone and my last trip to the supermarket was on July 12 at night. Hezbollah had snatched the two soldiers that morning and things went as usual in Beirut that day. Or so I thought.
Fast forward to August 3rd and it is amazing how things can flip around and you find yourself with plenty of time on your hands.
Usually during times of crisis one has the tendency to get nostalgic: for the last couple of days, my thoughts hovered around the killer “Mjadra” (1) my grandmother used to make like an Apachee helicopter hovers around a suspected missile site. So, with plenty of time on my hands I decided that today I will be making Mjadra.
As I mentioned earlier, I live alone since a “breakout-and-exit” from the golden cage of marriage six months ago. I live in a very nice apartment but also a very empty one since I was overwhelmed with work and had no time to fully equip the place.
So I run a quick inventory of my kitchen and find 4 coffee mugs, some cutlery, some dishes, a few glasses and about 2 dozens espresso cups. So much for Mjadra unless I can work up the miracle of cooking it in a Nescafe Mug!!!
With all the siege talk going on, I decided that a trip to the supermarket is way overdue. I arrive there expecting people to be all over the place. I was happily surprised. It was busy but civil. So I grab a basket and start “walking down the isle” with the “you-know-what-tune” humming in my head.
I first encounter one of those really annoying “frenchy-coocoo” young mothers whose son was misbehaving and she kept coming back at him in French:
- “Non, ….. laisse ca, …. Mais arrête …. Attends un peu" [No, leave that … stop …wait]And I kept thinking: “Lady, we are under siege here, would you cut the child psychology crap, slap the little rascal, get your groceries and get the F …. 16 out of here, the place is crowded as it is”.
I don’t say anything and decide to switch isles.
I am in the canned food isle and see one of those heavy-set mountain women with the red cheeks filling her cart like there was no tomorrow and there was her 7 or 8 year old son clinging to the cart as a treasured possession. She is going about her business like “a laser guided smart bomb”. When her boy tried to utter something he immediately got whacked for it. BAM!!!
I mean here is someone who appreciates the gravity of the situation but she made Dr. Spock (2) spin in his grave. Easy Ma’am, the boy is already tense from just watching the news, no need to add to his collection of childhood induced phobias.
I take a closer look on her shopping cart which has about 650 items by now and I am saying to myself “I would not venture into the parking lot with that cart if I were you. With all the F-16’s whizzing by, they would think you have a Zelzal Missile (3) hidden underneath that Mount Everest of groceries.”
I decide to speed things up just to be ahead of the mountain woman on the cashier’s line.
I am in the ice cream section and decide to load up on my favorite stick. I start grabbing them by the truckload. I look at the label closely and see something that I have never noticed before: It says “Diet Jumbo Vanilla/Chocolate”.
Diet Jumbo??? Isn’t that like a contradiction in terms? I mean most of us go on a diet just to go down a couple of notches on the “Jumbo” scale. I decide that that’s a matter I will bring up with the marketing department of that company in better and later times. For now, I am racing against the F-16’s to get to my apartment safe and sound.
I grab other items and decide that I’ve had enough and head to the check out lines. I stand in a short line and look at my groceries and realize that there are no solid foods in that basket. Then, a horrific thought crosses my mind: “What if they decide to bomb Farrouj el Lala or Marroush (4)? I will starve to death.” But another soothing thought quickly comes by: “Don’t worry, there is always Falafel Sahyoun (5).”
I leave the place having a sense of guilt about my nutrition. I mean, come on, we are under siege with no cease fire looming at the horizon thanks to the logic of Mr. Blair and rancher Bush, who has time to think about nutrition?
Besides, under siege, nutrition takes a back seat. Under fire, it is missing in action. Under siege AND under fire, it becomes a casualty of war or as the US military so aptly calls it “Collateral Damage”. [I am amazed at the ability of these guys to enrich the English language lexicon].
I unpack my groceries and draw the following assessment:
- I have enough diet ice cream to get me through the summer
- I have enough Diet Coke to last me till next Spring
- Enough Lavazza espresso coffee to last a lifetime
Siege? what Siege?
Bring it on.
(1): A lentils, rice and onion puree. Mjadra is a staple of Lebanese cuisine.
(2): Dr. Benjamin Spock was an authority in pediatric medicine and child psychology.
(3): The largest missile in Hezbollah’s arsenal.
(4): Cult chicken sandwich places in Beirut.
(5): “Ze” Falafel place in Beirut.