Sunday, January 16, 2011

tunisia is one of those places i've always wanted to go to: ancient, exotic, beautiful, classy, interesting, combination urban/rural/seaside, etc. - but, being almost fifty-seven, bottle of ketchup, i have to face the reality that it might not happen, or maybe, might not happen right away, in which case by the time i get there, i might be too old to really get down in the street, hitchhike around, find out what the young people are thinking.

ah but that's negative thinking, and besides that, there's facebook, and on top of that, there's a revolution and all of a sudden tunisia is all over the place if you want to relate to it. now i'm not a close follower of the political thing, and it's not my country, but the gist of it is this: they had a bad ruler, they got together by facebook, they kept the pressure up on him, and he had to flee. now they are faced with anarchy if they don't unite behind some other guy, so i'm sure there's quite a bit of political wrangling involving who exactly they should unite behind.

i skip right over the news channels and go to facebook where some folks have set up their own sites and keep them lively with pictures of people marching, people waving red flags and painting their faces red. occasionally you see people getting beat up and some security people abusing their power though i'm sure this is intended to heat up the anarchists' cause in some way, or just to show how bad this previous ruler was. i study the chat, the french, the combination chat-arabic and french, occasional english or universal symbols but don't glean much that i can really count on. lord help tunisia, is a common theme. but the pictures are amazing.

the first is tunisie direct, or as it calls itself, (-̮̮̃-̃)۶تونسي (ة) و راسي عاليღtunisien(ne) et la tête haute ٩(-̮̮̃-̃)۶ - i clearly recognize faces on the edges of this title, and "hot head"(?) in the middle?
it's a kind of running account, pictures, movies, etc., and it's wild, but it doesn't connect to the others. the other two are similar: one is nostresssss (sometimes five, sometimes more s's), by oussema, and this one is a little more personal; the guy (?) puts tons of things up when he's awake, but then he goes to bed; it's still a central meeting place for a lot of people, though. and then there's celebataire-w-n7eb-dima-na3mel-jaw - who knows what that means? or if i'd get in trouble telling people about this? in the case of the iranian revolution, i felt guilty, because i knew that if i helped the green people, somebody might come after them in the night, and that's in fact what happened; here, though, the government is toppled. all these people are writing into these red facebook pages. tunisia's street life is in full view of everyone.

and that's the cool thing. here they were, suffering away, living in this kind of isolated place, isolated if only maybe by poverty or maybe just isolated from us americans but not so much everyone else. but now i'm hearing tunisian music; i'm watching movie stars; i'm watching their news programs. i'm watching their demonstrations in the street. i'm in the middle of their passionate arguments, though i don't quite understand them.

back home, the kids are in bed. a cold spell has returned and put the area in its icy grip. it's king day tomorrow, and that's good; we can wake up and get out at our own pace. we don't do anything special for king day though every day of our lives is devoted to trying to get a little cross-racial, cross-generational cooperation going, in our favor, as opposed to anarchy and riot control a la tunisienne, so to speak. life is not boring, though you wouldn't know it all the time, looking at the empty streets of our small town. it is cold, though, and getting colder. we wait to spring into action; this will be tuesday, when everyone at the university goes back to school, everyone, me first, i have to be there at 7 30 am.

the airports fill up with my own students coming back; now, in the facebook era, i know which airport they're stuck in, when they arrive, and i see their pictures of wherever they've been. the world is much smaller that way; they're my friends; we stay better connected, even when they fly through london or stay there for a few years. my one tunisian student, i think he's in london maybe, or somewhere, not tunisia, and not here, but he has put a big red sign on his site, painted his face red, joined the cause. it's through his page i found these sites, but he should know: in a place where you don't meet many tunisians, he represented, to us, the whole country. we look to him and say, hey man, i hope everything is ok, especially with your family. actually i think maybe his family is out of there too.

true anarchy, that's a little scary; i'm not sure i'd really vote for that, anymore, come to think about it. you have a house full of little kids, women in the family, you don't want anarchy out there. if i were twenty, yeah, i'd be waving that red flag, yeah, i'd want that odious thirty-year dictator out of there, him and his thugs both, and i'd be all over those streets. and the palm trees, the old french colonial-type buildings, the narrow streets, the ancient history - it makes a good web tour, if you got a minute. you see gaddafi in there every once in a while; i have no idea whose side he's on. with the social media you can go, hang around in their scene for a while, then come back for dinner. i do this instead of watching football. the little boys sometimes get me to play with them, or watch icarly (kid television) with them; or, i try to pick up after them, or do their laundry. i sneak back and grab a peak of pure anarchy, people in the streets, in a free minute. if it matters, let it be known: some of us care, a lot, about how folks like this work this out. we send our thoughts, and train our virtual screens on you, at least for a moment.


Blogger Peggy said...

We spent two weeks in Tunisia (gosh) 10 years ago. We had a wonderful time! I have nothing but lovely things to say about Tunisia and the warm, friendly people there. There is a fabulous history to the place and a blending of so many cultures. I fear we may not be able to get there again for some time. I was looking at the Tunisia holiday photo album just last night.

5:19 AM  

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