I am back in the field on Monday after my vacation.
Wednesday was a rainy day here with the sun coming up occasionally for a few minutes and going out again and the drizzling continued until noon. I had to do my duty rounds what ever the climate is.
I chose the road in front of the hospital, as the rain made a mess of the roads. My Prado is withdrawn from the roads, and a pick up was given to me in place. At least it is 4x4 drive, so that I can safer from the slippery mud.
I drove slowly through the road in front of the police station and the hospital, took a right turn to pass through the army camp and now the road was straight.
I increased the speed a little to get a grip on the road as a test. At the small junction that is a truck parking area, the bright yellow colour of the rain coat came in my view.
Yes, it was a man or a woman in a coat asking for a lift in my car. It was raining and thought I will not stop to prevent mud in the car.
As the face become clear, I recognized that it was Lila, the health worker for the nearby village.
I met her in the hospital a number of times. She stands beside the road when ever she has to go a bit long looking for our company vehicles as she know that she will free from harassment. She has traveled with me many times before too.
She must be going back to her home after her work. I stopped and she came to the driver window to peer at the me . I know that she won’t take a lift from a stranger. I rolled down the window and smile and wished her good morning. She recognized my face and asked if I can drop her in the next junction. She climbed in with water dripping from her coat and hesitated and said a curt ‘malish’ (sorry in Arabic).
I encouraged her by saying a never mind.
She told me that she went to the village where she had a boy with symptoms of Malarial fever and that she is now going to the trucker’s camp where I have seen last time that a lot of makeshift coffee shops has come up manned by women. They are called ‘Rakhoba’ in general. ‘Rakhoba’ literally means built with grass and wood or a temporary shelter. In the rainy season the area will be flooded and no one will be there, the sheds all gone in water and people shift to elevated regions. They say that in old times the area was under water in the rainy season and mosquitoes as big as your fist threatened all, including thick skinned cattle.
The junction was a ten minutes drive and she asked me to stop near the small coffee shop on the right so that she can jump in the shop with out the rain bothering her.
She thanked me and was half out of the car when she asked me if I have been in any small coffee shops before. I shook my head in negative and she invited me for a hot tea.
I decided to see how it looks like to be inside one of these shops.
The shop was made with four walls of dry grass and a grass thatched, with water dripping here and there. The woman who operates it is nor normally called a sithe (Mrs in English) as they are normally married, The shop is well known chatting place for and the truckers, where the woman will also join you in chatting and gossiping. The shop itself is called a ‘sithe shai’ (shai is tea in Arabic)
The woman in the shop got up to wish Lila and me and I was introduced by Lila.
We sat on plastic chairs scattered around with a table in front. I heard Lila telling the woman to make it quicker and to clean the glasses in boiled water for me.
Lila told me that she has to visit a woman, who was as old as one hundred, in one of the near by shops. She had bronchitis and Lila brought her some inhalers from the hospital.
In five minutes the woman brought a tray with two steaming cups of black tea, spreading the aroma of spice and dry ginger.
When I asked Lila if I can take a pic of her, she shied away saying that she is a government worker and she wants no problems. I obliged her but I have some pics of the shop with Maraba, the woman shop owner.
Lila unfortunately is not in the pictures so I should be describing her. Lila is a twenty five years old girl faced thin woman and she speaks very poor English. She is very charming indeed with her short hair.
Behind the display of an array of Hubly bubbly’s also known in Arabic as Hookah, sheesha or Nargila (smoking water pipes) is my Toyota 4x4 pick up.
Take a look !!!
Aside from my blah blahs, I wish you a nice weekend.