A Christmas Day in Djibouti – Day One Seven Days Before Christmas – December 19, 2015

Somehow, when it’s 42° C Christmas doesn’t feel quite right. We read the Christmas Carol to the kids and watched Christmas specials on French TV as we decorated the living-room with plastic holly and baubles trying to recreate that special atmosphere.

Packages from America had arrived far in advance and it had been difficult to hide them from the children, but we managed it!  On Christmas eve, me mounted the tiny tree putting the gifts under it on the dining room table and hung two beautifully decorated stockings on the window sill filled with candy canes and other goodies.

The next morning the kids were starry-eyed with awe.  Gift wrapping flew around the room as they ripped open their packages with laughter.  We had our traditional Christmas breakfast and I put a couple of chickens in the oven with dressing for our dinner which we would be sharing with our friends, a French couple with their children and a scholarly gentleman and his wife from Iran. My mincedfruit and pumpkin pies would be a great end to our meal.

There was a moment of silence in all the bustle and I heard that beautiful lilting chant that accompanied us throughout each day we lived in Djibouti.  The muezzin reciting the ahdan or call to prayer … Allah’u’akbar floated into the room. Suddenly it felt very much like Christmas to me as I remembered that He who was born that day, was born in a warm desert land, not in a snow drifted winter wonder land.

God is great
there is only one God
hasten to pray

© G.s.k. ‘15

 It’s probably not “politically correct” to remember that Islam derives from Judaism and Christianity.  Each of the great monotheisms has taken a different path and has its own bright and dark history.  The God of Abraham is also the God of Christ and the God of Mohammed.  I came across an article on CBS Minnesota .. the school choir master has included in the Holiday Concert repertoire a song about Ramadan to be performed in Arabic.  A brave symbol of pluralism in these trouble times.  My first Christmas wish for us is that we will be so brave as to embrace the spirit of peace and love which we profess.

 

 

Carpe Diem Seven Days Before Christmas 2015 #1 fresh snow

Wandering and Dreaming – Haibun – December 11, 2014

© Alastair Forbes

There are moments when one just begins to walk.  Maybe there’s been an argument maybe it’s a moment of meditation, it doesn’t really matter; one foot in front of another without a special goal, one begins to walk.

The port at night in Djibouti was a favorite goal during the evenings.  The days were always so hot and humid.  We’d start walking from the house after dinner and eventually arrive at the little kiosk near the tourist docks, you always ordered a can of cold chocolate milk, I preferred tonic water.

The cool breeze was inviting, sometimes we’d meet a friend or acquaintance,  sometimes we’d just sit on the dock and look out at the Indian Ocean, dreaming.  Dreaming … we meandered the world in dreams … the catamaran we’d build, the house we’d build in an African village, the books we’d write … dreaming was our trademark as a couple.

One day, I stopped dreaming but you didn’t.  You couldn’t stop so you kept on wandering and dreaming by yourself.  Now you too have stopped dreaming and you’ve reached your goal.  I think you were never lost though,  you knew where you were and in the end you called home.

wandering
one foot before another
never lost

(c) G.s.k. ’14

 

“Not all those who wander are lost”
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring)

Linked to Haibun Thinking

Dawn Thoughts – July 9, 2014

Before Dawn

Before Dawn

Before Dawn

blue clouds swirl
before dawn’s birth
lights shine afar
this cold morn
silence reigns supreme
in my world
blue clouds swirl

Muezzin

laying in the heart of dawn
sleepless from the stifling heat,
I heard the song of the muezzin
calling to all those who believe
a bird called out to a companion
first purple rays of sun slipped through
the wooden shutters of my room
as I sit here years have past
now no muezzin makes his call
a church bell here strikes the hour
Djibouti is a mirage of dawn

Haiku

illusions of time
travelling where no life exists
morning mirages

Heat Shimmer … Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

heat hazed horizon
camels in the distance
Djibouti

silk road
nomads through the Gobi
artery to China

Khamsin howling
hot desert sand fills the air
blue robed Tuaregs

Arabian desert
muezzin calls the faithful
to Baytu l-‘Atīq

Written for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

I lived for many years in Northern, Central and East Africa.  I’ve experienced the Khamsin, ridden through the desert and the Sahel, seen the blue robed Tuaregs and heard the muezzin call through the day and in the evening.  The muezzin call is what comes to mind when I think of the shimmering heat of the desert, perhaps for this reason.  I never got to see the Gobi however, but one of my favorite pieces of music is by Kitaro…Silk Road.

Free Verse: 100% Humidity

Free Verse

100% Humidity

When I lived in Djibouti
I soon learned
the difference
between rain
and 100% humidity?
Rain refreshes,
is an elixir of life
falls
for a bit
though not maybe
long.
But…
the other
is when water
reaches
dew point…
drops
fall around you
for two seconds
and that’s it:
African Sauna
by my definition.