Eid Break

Graphic by Tayla McHardie

Eid Break Awakenings

It’s refreshing to be reminded of how quickly our consciousnesses can let go of tiresome mental occupations when faced with the imminent danger of fish.

Sep 18, 2016

Four good friends went on an adventure last Saturday. They ventured as far as the fish souk at Mina Port. Thankfully, the previous night’s misdemeanors and the morning’s lethargy had all been erased from our minds as the smell of dead fish overwhelmed us. It’s always refreshing to be reminded of how quickly our consciousness can let go of their tiresome mental occupations when faced with the imminent danger of smelly fish.
We were soon too distracted by the wares of the fish vendors to keep worrying about the smell. A mass of pink salmon lay out before us, chilling on slabs of ice with fresh orange shrimp. The vendors soon noticed our wonder and began with the theatrics, producing baby sharks with a flourish and whipping out live lobsters, claws still intact. We squealed with delight and bargained with ferocity. The whole thing came out to 30 AED per person and the four of us enjoyed a delicious lunch of freshly cooked lobster and shrimp with garlic sauce and parathas at the restaurant in Mina Port.
Over lunch, when we could bear to tear ourselves away from enthusing about the succulence of our meal, we began to speak of dreams and memories. Of little cafés in Spain that one of us had waitressed at, of shisha bars in the Philippines we would like to open, of the importance of café culture in building community in Latvia and the distant dream of retiring to a bed and breakfast in Goa.
Stories upon stories piled up on the red checkered mats they had given us. Once the food was over, I thought of how lucky I am to be able to share my fantasies with similarly fanciful girls from different corners of the planet.
Our travels took us out of the souk, to the Madinat Zayed shopping center, where each of us bought a little vial of oil-based perfume to take home as a present. I began to imagine grandmothers with different faces but with similarly kind, laugh-crinkled eyes scenting themselves with the jasmine perfume their granddaughters had bought for them.
Antique shops left us with lighter wallets but heavier bags, as we found the perfect nut holders, gold coffee pots and little Kashmiri boxes we never knew we wanted. They would no doubt fit in with our proud-world-traveller homes someday. Someday I’d visit these homes and see the nut holder, gold coffee pot and Kashmiri box and it would launch us into fond memories of that Eid break we spent walking around Abu Dhabi in the too hot sunlight, taking too many wrong turns in a taxi to search for the place where we ordered too much kanafeh, laughing too much and washing it all down with pomegranate juice from a place called Froots.
I imagine our lives will be very different in a couple of years, once we’re out of this transitory period. We’ll each be living in a place that has more people but less diversity, for starters — after all, a more heterogenous community than NYU Abu Dhabi is hard to find.
There will be less uncertainty about where we are and where we’re going. Most of us will hopefully be established professionals instead of scholarship students whose ideas of careers are founded on half-formed dreams, complemented by several trips to the Career Development Center for reinforcement.
That morning I wanted to fast forward to that period of stability. I hoped for a sense of belonging with someone, and somewhere to belong to. Then, I looked at the three smiling faces — beautiful in their own completely different ways — and realized I had already found a version of that here.
Go out for fish with friends. It’s fun and cheap. And the epiphany is free.
Riva Razdan is a contributing writer. Email her at feedback@thegazelle.org.
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