The other day in London, we discovered a street cart outside a mosque, where Kaz the owner makes some of the most delicious soups and baguettes stuffed with delicacies. He makes a fantastic green chilli sauce that sits on the counter with powdered cumin in a shaker, with a huge bottle of bright olive oil.
We returned for an early dinner on a Saturday night with our friend from Sydney Amanda, and squeezed onto the only little table resting curbside after teaching in Notting Hill, feeling frozen and tired. A gentleman came and sat with us, and it was rather cosy, given the size of the table. My first thought was ‘oh crap, I realllyy want to catch up with Amanda (who I haven’t seen in a long time) but now this dude is like sitting on top of us!’ After shelving that thought, I struck up a conversation with him, in truth because I love chatting with strangers. Also, it was hard not to, given we were now a table of four dining together. We initially spoke about the food, and he generously shared with us pieces of his meal. He explained if we were at his home in Algeria he would have invited us to dine at his house, and he was sorry all he could do was offer us some of his meal whilst we waited for ours. He often spoke heartily to the men around us, in a combination of Arabic, French and English. We discussed the mosque, his faith, and that his brother had three wives, and that he only had one wife and girlfriend. I could feel myself bristle at some of his views, which he plainly put forward with detailed explanations of the reasoning behind everything. He was utterly fascinating, so removed from my life, experiences and world views.
And that’s all they are isn’t it; views. They’re not set in stone, they are malleable and mean different things to different people. I had no experience of him judging me for only having one partner, so why did I initially get all squishy inside about his and his brothers’ multiple partners?
As humans we are a layer cake of prejudices we usually don’t even know are there until they pain us. And pain us they must, so they can come up to the surface, get some ventilation and air themselves out.
After as we went to pay, Kaz told us the gentleman had already paid for us, and we were so anguished and in awe of his generosity. And as we walked away with our breath steaming up in the cold, I made a firm commitment to get out into the cold air and release as many prejudices as I hold, and all the rest about myself I am yet to discover.
Sent with love,