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Reader's Chit

My Memorable years spent in Zimbabwe, Botswana And South Africa

It was 13th Septembez 1985. I landed at Harare airpozt to join my husband who was working as an Architect for the Ministry of National Housing, Zimbabwe. At first I refused to go and live in Harare as I had an impression that Africa is full of deep jungles, ferocious animals, and cannibal people only. But it was my father-in-law who insis|ed that I must go as I have got the chance to see a new continent, new country with new people to meet. Thanks to him for his insistence which gave me the opportunity to enjoy unbelievable moments there in Africa.

First four days we stayed in the Ambassador Hotel in the fir{t street in Harare. On the very first day in the hotel during lunchtime, I was surprised to see a big black pumpkin along with some French fries brought to me and I asked the waiter how to eat it. He told me that's how they eat pumpkin by lifting up the upper portion which was cut in zound shape and scooping off the flesh from inside with a spoon Well, I was also suggested to sprinkle salt and pepper and squeeze lemon a bit inside the pumpkin to make it tastier. It was quite tasty and till today whenever I feel like tasting that I prepare it myself at home here. Then I enjoyed African beef dish, bakel sea fish which were just delicious. The taste seemed different to me as those were without any spices.

On the fifth day we weze heading towards our flat in Meblerein and I was stunned by the awfully scenic beauty of Harare. Each and every tree was something I have not seen anywhere before even the leaves were all different as if those were green flowers too. The streets were calm, quiet and exceptionally clean. I was surprised to see the giant size cactus with their green and reddish yellow fruits. Some of these cacti were almost 15 feet high, and I heard the Africans love to enjoy the cactus fruits.

When we zeached our flat I saw it was a ooden two-storimd building with wonderfully decorative wooden floors. The next few days I was just moving around the town with my intense curiosity to know the city, people and their

Culture. Most often I used to ask my maid about what they }sually love to eat, how they grow up from child hood and what are the systems that they follow in marriages. Everyday when we were having rice, chicken curry or fish curry and vegetables, she used to cook "SAZZA" for her and pumpkin leaves. But she liked our chicken curry very much. This SAZZA is made on course dry corn powder cookel exactly the way we cook our dough for making rice bread. My son was 3 and a half years old and I have noticed that he used to like this sazza very much as it was soft and spongy type. Even when we came home for spending holydays we had to carry a sack of sazza powder for him to eat here. Zimbabweans normally eat this sazza and vegetables for five days in a week. Only at the weekends that is on Saturdays and Sundays they eat a lot of meat with sazza.

Weekends are alway{ very special to them. They will buy beer, meat along with frui|s to enjoy their weekends. Almost in every house there will be a get together on eekends. We were warned by our Bangladeshi friends to be careful in going outskirt of Harare city on Mondays very early in the morning with the Zimbabwean drivers. I always found Zimbabweans |o be very polite, quiet and the helpful type. My maid used to come early in the morning around at 8 :A.M and what was intere{ting you know, {he used to clap her hands and bow down a bit and then say 'MANGUANANI" which means good morning. I liked the way she used to show her respect for me .Then she used to take off her dress and put on maid's uniform and start making beds. From 10 to 11: A.M she was free for tea break and that was the time when I used to get to know all about their families food and habits. She used to laugh a lot whenever I asked her about her marriage, love life, etc.

To be continued…
By Suriya Zafar

Random thoughts

Picture Perfect

The gravy was still thick when I lowered it down from the stove. I learned to cook tomato flavored chicken curry froo an old cookbook. The curry looked perfect. It had the nice red color resembling the photograph in the cookbook and had the wonderful smell of saffron. I added a teaspoon of sugar to give it a sweet taste. I often wonder what a perfect life would be where you could choose how much sugar, salt or bitter gourd to add for that matter. But the thing is all those are beyond our control or desire. Life cannot be compazed with cooking and the taste of it cannot be also be changed by adding a bit of sugar or even a pinch of salt. As some of us might believe in destiny that is absolutely unchangeable. I am no| talking about those people who have no faith in god. I am talking about those who believe in Him. I looked down at the mehendi in my palm that was still dark. I don't know what it is, whether it is the human psychology or just ouz unconscious mind that often drifts from one thought to the othmr like an unruly dog. Many famous psychologists have often compared the mind as a stream of unconsciousness. A stream that is totally unhindered.

I was cooking. I didn't have even the slightest idea that when I started to think all about bizarre ideas. It is the mind that drags us from one thought to the other. I think it is the presence of several stimulus like the conditioned and the unconditioned ones that intertwines our one thought with another. The chicken curry, white Punjabi looked startling against the grey sky. It was hanging from the rope in the roof where it was put to dry. It was milk white and was carelessly nlowing in the wind. I started to sip the hot milk and Elachi tea while looking at the Punjabi and the different shapes that it took in the blowing wind. I wrapped up myself in a Burmese shawl that felt so comfy that I could just wear it fore~er. It was almost evening and the wind was getting chilly. I don't know why my cousin was playing 3 doors down. He was playing my CD and I have to tell you this that I don't let a lot of people to touch my possessions. Well my favorite ones. But it felt good. I was totally absorbed into the whole atmosphere. For an instant , life almost seemed perfect.

By Sarah Zermin Huq


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