Saturday, June 10, 2006

"Sithe Shai"


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 My Prado is withdrawn from the roads, and a pick up was given to me in place.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.

34 comments:

I love Munich said...

Now that is a VERY NICE story beautifully narrated!! I love these simple people and sat myself already in these kind of "shops", not where you are but in different countries! Do you know that I really enjoy to smoke a nargila or shisha, even though I am an ardent NON-smoker?? Now I shocked ya ... ha-ha!! :) I find it incredibly relaxing to listen to the bubbly noise from the belly of the nargile!

jac said...

i love munich
First of all thanks for the compliment and encouragement.

Though I have never tried the hubly bubbly's myself, I am not shocked to know that you have tried. I am surprised that is all.

Just like those chillies to you, I better stay away from that smoke.
But I have to say that you remarkably bold.

I love Munich said...

Try it once and you'll see! I was myself totally surprised when I was offerd to try, thought "why not" - and did it! I'm always curious for new things and liked it right away! It has nothing to do with smoking per-se as it is no tobacco at all. I can't really explain that - it is kind of relaxing ... simply pleasant!
As to the chillies - YES, I agree wholeheartedly .. ha-ha!!
Bold? Why? Because I tried it or because I say that openly? I have no problem with ANY of the two ...

starry nights said...

Nice story jac and I am glad you went in to have some tea, I think these little tea shops are special, feels more homely.I hope thers not too much of rain.nice pics.

jac said...

i love munich
I would rather not try that as smoking of sheesha by woman and even teens are a very common site in the coffee shops in the Abu Rommana quarter of Damascus.
I wrote the word bold in the sense that you you have done it in a strange country.
I would rather stick to my chillies, thanks.

jac said...

starrynight
yesterday I had to drive back halfway due to sporadic rain. A day with rain and another with sunshine going on here now
Soon it will be just rain and water.

chet said...

A beautiful post, I hope your vacation was a great one. Welcome back!!!!:)

Mindinside said...

Nice balh blah,
you make it a joy to read.
Thanx for sharing:)

I notice something in the pics .. wotever simple their living, the people are more relaxed and carefree.


P.S. ( Could you pick me up from the roadside one day, I would enjoy the ride )

jac said...

chet
Thanks for the compliment.
My vacation always gives me injuries… this one too. But I am alive, you see !

jac said...

mind
You know, that you are giving me a lot of compliments wrapped together.
A single thanks for all that.

You have your answer in the comment itself.
They have to be simple because they have no money, and when they have no money, they sleep very well.
You are relaxed when you sleep well. Simple, you know?

So if you have too much money, throw it in my way and relax. LOL

Silent One said...

Thank you for allowing us a few minutes to step into your world.

I truly love the first picture. The woman with all her pots and teas in front of her. Such a simple life, yet very practical.

Nice truck too. ;o)

jac said...

silent one
Thank you for that visit and the compliments.
Blogging is sharing too, is it not?
I love this world though I am not eating from a golden plate. Not easy at all.
:)

Lorna said...

I always think of blogging as sitting with a friend at a bar---but a tea shop will do equally well. Especially one that looks so friendly

jac said...

lorna
you can, if you happen to be in Sudan.
But give me 24 hrs time to entertain you in a 'sithi shai' where you can blog or gossip.
Thanks.

Saroj said...

Jac
Very nice post and a lively description.

It reminds me of my college days, we used to sit at coffee shop in our college. It was a wonderful experience eating hot Samosas (North Indian snack) with hot tea during rainy and winter season and chatting and laughing with friends.

jac said...

saroj
Thank you for the compliment.

I too remember some of the old days like flashes of memories.

Come agin every 3 days if you like it here.

Strictly for my friends said...

What work do you do where you have such adventures?

jac said...

strictly for my friends
I am known as a Trainer on production of crude oil and I have to be in the oilfield most of the time visiting my trainees.
I write and read when I am in the desk where I have to formulate and plan my training programmes.
Travelling is part of my job and adventure...part of my blood.
I love both
I am telling you all this because it is strictly for my friends.

Rose said...

God bless these unsung heroes..

..Me

Dew Drops said...

100 year old lady ??!!!!!!

jac said...

rose
They were not called heros while they were alive.

All heroes are dead exept may be the 'hero' of Enrique Iglesias, the unmatchable Spanish singer.LOL

Thanks rose.

jac said...

dew drops
That is what she says.LOL

hellbunny said...

I love hearing your stories.they tell us so much about life over there.

jac said...

hellbunny
Thanks all the way.
I too love to read your comments and I enjoy the feed backs.
Come anytime.

Inji Pennu said...

love the posts like these. it opens up a totally new world,yet so familiar.

jac said...

lg
I thought that you loved only cooking and nature, but here now I see another person with an insight of a new world apart from your kitchen and backyard.

I am delighted to have you here as my guest. I try to post every third day.
Thank you from this window.

Dotm said...

Jac, I never heard of a water pipe. Those containers have such a romantic oriental look to them. They sure woukld look nice in a collection over here.
More new words for me to see-
malish ( sorry)
Rakhoba ( temporary shelter made with grass and wood)
sithe (Mrs)
shai (tea)
Hookah, sheesha (bubbly`s)
nargila ( smoking water pipes ).
This many new words in just one post.
You have a good sized toyota for your work. Nice looking!
Comfortable looking shai shop and nice looking sithe lady.
Your posts are always interesting and usually informative about your Country.

jac said...

dotm
These hubly bubbly's are part of the the Arab culture as you know that Sudan is in Africa. To me it looks like as if the habit might have migrated from Egypt.

I would have preffered my Prado to this Toyota but the age has caught up with the poor fellow.
The 4x4 functin has long gone from it, the suspention keeps you reminded about waltzing in a dance floor and it fails to start with unknown reasons.
Thanks for the compliment, dot.

Dotm said...

I knew you would still prefer your Prado.I think we do get attached to out vehicles if we keep them long enough. In 1983 my husband bought me a new car which iIhad till a speeder totaled it in 1994. 11 yrs old and people thought I had a new car, I kept it in minttop condition. A friend`s Husband once said he wished he could afford a new car like mine. I told him I wish I could afford a new one like his which was just 2 yrs old. Shocked him when I told him mine was then 10 years old. The next car was a 1990Mazda-second hand - low milage and almost 5 yrs old. Bought in 1995 and still driving now- 16 years old . All I have done for upkeep was to have the bottom of the doors and rockerpanel touched up- had a touch of rust just starting. I often think of getting another new car,but am so used to this old Mazda. To bad you weren`t allowed to keep your Prado just for personal use.

Inji Pennu said...

Hi jac,
Looks like you didn’t see my other comments on your others posts. I have been a regular reader, commented too -- when you lost a friend who asked for a book in an accident, when you gave lift to a woman and her mother...and I have been commenting too. I remember saying to you, your posts are so precious, since you post not as a foreigner in Nigeria, but as one among them...which is soo refreshing, which I would love to see other writers adapt...

jac said...

dotm
Glad to hear that you love your old Mazda still. I had one 929 when I was in Soudi Arabia.

That Prado was a pride to me, but there was no other way.

jac said...

lg
You flatter me with so many compliments rolled together. After reading this I have gone through your comments.
Some times my yahoo is not forwarding my replies on old posts.
I am so sorry for that. I appreciate what I read in 'injimanga' which itself is a favourite of mine. You have put in so much dedication and effort in that blog yours.
I never miss any of your posts.

Smoke said...

Drugs are just bad, you should try to use Herbal Alternatives as a temporary replacement to loose the dependance!

Guitar Master said...

I wish I could blog as good as you, but what I can do is give you a nice Guitar Lesson!