My New Year resolution was as tragic as a divine comedy, a heavy load on my chest, I have to confess, it may be the most likely to blame for the COVIS-19 pandemic lockdown. The COVID-19 pandemic triggered too much blame to go around, from blaming China, Bill Gates, Pharmaceutical companies, Obama, Immigrants, the infidel’s way of ruining Muslim holidays, and the perennial one, God punishment to anyone you don’t agree with or don’t like. relax hand off china, it is all my fault, Muslims have been the fall guys for years, anyway, and my New Year resolution was the culprit. I wished to spend more time at home, quality time with my family, cooking my meals, less exercising, less driving, watching more movies, and getting a handout from the government signed by Donald. With the Corona pandemic, the lockdown, economic shutdown, and social distancing all came true. In the pandemic lockdown, time collapse, yesterday like tomorrow, and the future are like the past. It has been over two months now. In the lockdown, you have time to reflect and find the deep meaning of things in your life that been ignored and overlooked. It intensifies your relationship with time and place. You develop an appreciation of simple things; you spend so much time alone you feel you want to hug the Amazon delivery guy. You do things you rarely do.
Enjoying and appreciating home cooking of your ethnic dishes that you have been putting off for a long time. You Peaceful Egyptian breakfast of feta cheese, fual modammes (fava beans), tomatoes, and cucumber don’t require any violence of slathering, burning, roasting, or cracking. My dinner Stuffed grape leaves dish that is a labor-intensive job that takes entire day to make. Rice Moaamer is a dish for those who are afraid to screw up the rice by adding lots of milk and butter in case. Mulukhiyah dish that is commonly known as Jew’s mallow, an Egyptian national dish, single-handily divided Egyptians into two camps who hate each other, and this not of its Jewish connection but how they eat. One camp eats it with rice, and the other camp eats it with pita bread, and you would trigger a food fight if you have both on the same table. Cooking for me is a one-man show played on the kitchen stage. You are the director, actor, producer and you are the audience too. It has therapeutic and psychological benefits besides nutrition, builds your self-confidence, connects to your culture, and post your chaotic creativity.
The lockdown and the self-quarantine happened in the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims supposed to quarantine themselves at home, anyway. This way, you don’t have to answer to your Imam why you haven’t been to the mosque. Avoiding carious friends asking whether or not you are fasting, only God knows. In the lockdown, I canceled all my outside contacts, doctors, dentists, and the cable guy appointments. Spend most of my time waiting for the Amazon delivery truck. I try to get in other people’s lives through films to make sure I’m still alive. I watch at least two or three every day, looking at how films tell the stories. The Italian and the French stories are not a black and white conflict. The protagonist and antagonist both have their moral dilemmas. Italian film, themes usually if I can stereotype here- goes around family, Mafia, communists/left politics, and the magnificent landscape of the place itself a breathtaking. The French films take place indoor and talk about their feelings for an hour and a half. Something is refreshing about old Egyptian movies, the allure of black and white magic. They are nostalgic and predictable, with a simple plot, soap opera acting, the past scenes, empty, clean streets, beautiful old buildings filled with lots of memories. Walking to the park with Woodstock, the dog, the streets usually are empty, and if a neighbor or a policeman asked me to go back where you come from, I don’t get offended. We all should stay home. Everything is calm and quiet; your relationship to the place has a different meaning. You look at the empty park, the benches are alone and ignored—tennis and basketball court are silent listening to the birds singing, having the park all finally for themselves.
I hardly drove my car, even the insurance company, which just raised the rates a year ago, gave me a refund check. In the lockdown, the details of what you see now are mesmerizing. A simple walk to the park, noticing the street corner, the sidewalk a joy. The lawn signs, which are a great addition to the neighbor landscape. In the pandemic, there is a belief that we are all in it together, and we will get out of it a new reality to a new normalcy. You get to know more about your neighbors by the lawn sign they display. “As long as My lord in my right hand, I will never be shaken.” Charlton Heston holding one of the ten commandments. The next-door neighbor, with their lovely energetic kids, along with our dog, breaking the artificial social distancing etiquettes. The lovely nurse across the street is working on the frontline every day. Watching her making sure she is back safe with her family. Now I’m home alone, trying to make sense of all these, carefully working on my wishes for the Next Year, God willing!!
Stay home, stay alive!!
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The Lockdown Dish Moaamer Backed Rice