Monday, 22 February 2010

Big Fat Gypsy Weddings.....

My favourite programs on TV are usually reality TV programs so when I saw an advert about gypsy weddings in the UK I thought that sounded interesting and so I watched it when it was on and it really was an amazing program.

Most people including British people know very little about the gypsies which in turn are a private community that do not mix a lot with everyone else, here in the UK there are 2 types or groups of gypsies, the Romani Gypsies and the Travellers which originally came from Ireland but have been here for many generations, the program I watched was about the Travellers community which still holds a very strong Irish accent even though they have been here for so long which can only mean that they do keep together and hardly mix with the rest of us.

Most people think of Gypsies as low class people with no morals what so ever, to be honest some gypsies are to blame for this bad reputation but in general good and bad are in every community, this program showed a rare insight into the Traveller community, it showed the prejudice they sometimes encounter but one thing for sure, it showed that when it comes to glitter, tack and over the top taste they are by far the best.

Someone on the program said that she never met any group of people with a higher moral values than the gypsies, obviously she hadn't met many people but there is some truth to what she said, even though the program showed many teenage gypsy girls dressed in very skimpy clothes that barely covered them yet this was their way of attracting men, according to gypsy moral laws, girls are not allowed to have a boyfriend and therefore end up getting married at a very young age usually before their 18th birthday and until then they live at their parents house and are not allowed to sleep with men out of wedding lock, that was something I never knew and they seem to believe strongly in it.

Most gypsy girls start saving for their wedding at a very young age and they have this obsession about the size of their wedding dresses, the bigger the better, the size of these dresses are amazing and unlike anything I have ever seen in my life, some of the dresses weight about 170 KG! yes!! in fact the dress maker said most girls end up with permanent scars on their hips due to the massive weight of their dresses yet they will not go for anything else! it was very weird seeing them trying to get into their wedding carriages with these dresses.

The weddings and clothes are out of this world, talk about tacky but that is the way they like it, not every ones idea of a perfect wedding but each to their own....

These videos show some clips of the program, if you can get the full program then do watch it, very strange and an eye opener:

Here is a link to another short clip
The full program can be watched her but I am not sure if it is available outside of the UK

Monday, 15 February 2010

The Israeli / Arab Food War.....

Many have heard or read about the Israeli / Arab food war, this began when Israel decided that some popular Middle Eastern dishes are Israeli dishes and they went as far as calling them Israeli traditional food ignoring the fact that some of these dishes have been served in the Middle East for many centuries.
In the news in recent months they reported about the biggest Humus and Tabouleh dishes prepared by Lebanese chefs to enter the Guinness World Of Records and to be registered as Lebanese traditional food dishes and not Israeli, as far as I remember Lebanon succeeded in their bid.
While I understand that many Jews that lived in Arab/Middle Eastern countries may have taken with them these dishes when they immigrated to Israel but I do not think that this changes the identity of the food too!
In Libya there are food dishes that were associated with the Libyan Jewish community such as Haraimi but at the end this is a Libyan dish and not Israeli so can you imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Israeli/Arab food war has actually reached Libya!
The following pictures are from a flight magazine where they had an article about Israeli food, the article lists some "Popular Israeli Dishes" that are all very traditional Arab dishes including Schawarma and Falafel but wait for it: SHAKSHUKA! yes our very own Libyan Shakshuka has become a Popular Israeli Dish!!

click on picture for a bigger view
The article to be fair, did mention that Libyan Jews brought this dish to Israel when they immigrated yet still its listed under popular Israeli dishes, I wonder where else the fact that this is a Libyan dish is listed! soon it will become as a traditional Israeli dish as they have claimed Humus, Tabouleh and Falafel are.
Here is what the article says:
This ultra basic combination of eggs, tomatoes, garlic and spices cooked over high heat arrived in Israel from Libya in the 1950s. Originally a staple of the urban lower classes, today shakshuka can be found nationwide and has become a true culinary icon.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Blue Eye Syndrome

It has been a long time since I blogged, I am not sure why! but this is life, at times you just do not feel like doing certain things, I am not sure if this means I will be blogging normally but here it goes....

I meant to write about this experience for sometime but kept postponing it, this happened on my way back from a trip to Egypt although what happened is not only exclusive to Egypt, I had sort of similar experiences in other countries such as Tunisia and Jordan and always with their customs people but not the general population.

I was standing at the front of the que to board the plane coming back to London, there was another que for fast boarding this is where people pay extra to be boarded first, so my que we were waiting to be told we can board, there was a British (white) man standing in front of me, a customs officer then came over and said we can board, he checked the passport of the guy in front of me and told him to proceed, he then did the same with me, as I walked forward I saw other custom men talk to the guy in front of me, they told him that they have not started boarding other passengers yet and only fast boarding were allowed in, he told them that their colleague said he can go but no problem and stood there then I came forward and instead of telling the same politely just as they did with the other passenger, they actually started shouting at me, about 4 or 5 people just shouting at me that I can not board the plane like if I was a stupid person pushing in, everyone looked at me and I was so embarrassed that I thought no I am not going to let them do that to me, I started shouting back at them and told them why are you shouting at me? I am not pushing and that they should talk to their colleague who told me to go, they became very rude to me and their colleague who was shaking now because he knew he made a mistake suddenly told them in Arabic that I pushed my passport to him and forced him to let me in! then one of them who is just an employee at the check in desk tried to show off and to scare me, he said that I am not allowed to board the plane and that they will cancel my ticket, I told him to go and play away from me that he had no authority to do anything like that, I lived most of my life in a democratic free country that respects its citizens and that I am not scared of of nonsense like that, then the guy in front of me who is British and white and more of a man than all of them put together said to them that they had no right to shout at me and threaten me because it means he has to face the same threat, guess what???? they told him that he did not do anything wrong and he is free to board the plane! the problem was me pushing to board, he reminded them that he was in front of me but that they treated him differently, this fell on silent ears, he actually refused to board the plane and stood by me, I told him in Arabic we call this The Blue Eye Syndrome, which means if you are white then you are right but if you are dark then you can not be right!! he told me that he heard of such thing but thought it was a myth until now, he stood there listening to them threatening to rip my ticket and lock me up while I continued to tell them to stop talking rubbish and that I would only talk to their superior.
Eventually their superior came over and asked what was going on, straight away they told him that I spoke Arabic and pulled him to the side and started whispering in his ear, then I shouted to them and said be honest, do not lie like you have been doing for the last 15 minutes. Their boss came over to me few minutes later and actually was descent and polite, he asked me about what happened, before I said anything the other guy said to him that he was at the top of the que and basically told him the truth, I then gave my side of the story and since the brave British man supported me to him there was no doubt that they treated me badly, he apologised and told me to board the plane and asked me if I had any problem or a complaint, I said yes I do have a big problem with the way they treated me which obviously was because I am of an Arabic origin but that I just wanted to get back home to London where I am always respected for who I am and that I didn't want to delay the passengers any more.
I thanked the gentleman who stood by me just because he saw how badly they treated me, they made a fool of themselves in front of all the passengers and I was proud of myself for not letting little people think they can control me and scare me with their dictator attitude.

Again as I mentioned before this seems to happen to a lot people that hold European/USA passports but are not of white origin and happens all over our so called not racist Arab world, if this attitude continuous then obviously Arab countries still have a very long way before they are even half civilised.