Ye’Wendoch Guday – Part I

         “There just aren’t enough date’ble habesha guys around, that’s the problem,” said a friend who as of late has been considering broadening her options when it comes to finding a date with a potential of “turning into something more.” Broadening her options meaning venturing out into other races – non Ethiopians, something she thought she’d never consider ( for reasons which I’ll discuss in Part II).

          I couldn’t help but be buffled by how difficult it has become for most habeshas to find a suitable ‘significant other’ they could potentially spend the rest of their lives with. The Ethiopian population in the US and Canada is constantly increasing, but the prospect of finding a mate seems to be decreasing at the same rate. As much as I’d like to deny it, I spend more time discussing relationship matters with my friends then I do any other topic, and some of these friends are the kinds you can discuss topics ranging from Descartes to  our current economic depression. 

         Since i’m a woman i’ll try to stick to the female perspective, i’ll hope a few men reading this will indulge us with their two cents. The following are some of the complaints I hear from the ladies.

          chewa wend teftwal – A very common theme that seems to be the center of conversation is the issues of the cheeataas! Too many pretty girls  – most guys are just not ready to settle down, and give all that up. I remember walking into an Ethiopian restaurant with a guy friend of mine and he gently hinted that I shouldn’t be “too playful” with him cuz the girls dining in the restaurant might assume that we’re “together.” He needed to keep his options open. I of course understood, what this 29 year-old cutie wanted was simple – keep it casual, play the fields before he choses his mate. Playing the fields of course is going to mean a few broken hearts on the way. Isn’t there always that unlucky lady who manages to ignore all his signs and decide to fall in love with him anyways, and find out later he’s been “having his fun” on the side? Yeah, that one. Thus you can easily imagine for most logical females trusting such men can be too much of a risk to take.

         Then there is  the man who’s ready for the relationship – yet abatu -he wants the whole hoopla and then more – this is the habesha who wants what emayena abaye had. Rega yale sorta guy, a girl wouldn’t even be too embarrassed to bring him home to mama. But after a few dates it becomes obvious what he’s looking for – emayen erasuan! On the very first date, the girl can almost picture herself with him –  cooking, cleaning and catering to his needs while having a full-time job. ( I never use to believe that such habesha men existed in the US of A, but to my dismay there are plenty of them). 

            ” Bedebert gedelegn gena kemejemeria kenu” is yet another complaint. He’s decent looking, successful, with a potential to be a good father, but the brother is just plain dull. He wouldn’t know how to be romantic if a dozen red roses and a bottle of wine hit him right on the head. That might even be ok, but when his idea of fun revolves around playing cards and a bottle of beer in his hands with his buddies every evening and weekend… well let’s just say that can be a problem.

             One last thing that is of course brought up is not anyone’s mistake really – it’s just hard to meet people. A few individuals i know are so busy with work and life be’America that they don’t have the time to go out and meet people. Even if the initial meeting happens, it can be difficult to actually try to maintain, and hopefully develop, that relationship.

           Anyhoo these are just a few of the issues that are constantly discussed among my peers ( mostly the ladies) when it comes to why so many habeshas are single but yet almost desperate to find a significant other. But I do not want to end this without putting my own two cents on what I consider to be a debilitating problem of most habesha women ( those I’ve met at least) i.e waiting for Mr Perfect! It took me a long time to admit the problem was in fact real. It is quite accurate when attempting to understand why some women have a hard time getting into relationships. Here’s an example of what some women want.

           Handsome, but not a pretty boy, he needs to be manly. Educated, but not nerdy or boring. Needs to be able to carry on a good conversation with family and friends, but not be too much of a talkative. Smart but in touch with his emotions. Enjoys sports but not too much of a fanatic. Dresses well, takes her out to fancy restaurants, makes good money, tall, good body, no bad habits, but modest about his attributes. Honest, loyal,kind, respectful, enjoys reading and spending time with her, but isn’t too needy. That’s right fellas – we want it all!

          Well, if you know such a man – dead or alive – please let me know cuz i still haven’t met him. I believe no matter what, compromise is going to be the order of the day and all the days to come. There is no perfect man, just like there is no perfect woman. We all will have to weigh our options and chose what we think is most important to us – is it love, money, excitement, security… whatever it is, we’ll have to know it and choose.

              I’ll end this by telling you that I’m in not, in the least bit, an expert in relationships. What I’ve written is an accumulation of many hours of conversations I’ve had with friends. This entry in no way exhausts the countless issues revolving around relationships and the habesha community living in the United States, but i think it can be a good start for an interesting dialogue. Enjoy.

Tena Yistelegn,

Practical Dreams…

             Last night i was at very sheek cafe with a friend and her beautiful 18 months old daughter. The place was simple but yet elegant, the lighting gave it a very cozy feeling, and the pastries in the display reminded me of the simple pleasures of life. I greatly admired how the space was decorated and the lighting set up – the three of us where enjoying the place tremendously with two lattes, cookies and a tasty looking tuto.

        Behind every work of art there is always a brilliant and enthusiastic thinker, and i thought of how wonderful it would be to have such a profession in life – to be a maker of things. To create a space so simple but yet give a sense of ease and comfort to people who use it everyday is one of those things which we neglect to appreciate in our everyday lives but which serve us greatly. I thought… oh how wonderful it would be to be able to create things with just my hands and my imagination!

        It got me thinking – maybe i would have loved to become a decorator, a cook, a carpenter, a gardener – as my main profession I mean – maybe I’d have even been great at it. But it doesn’t look like that will ever happen. Growing up in Ethiopia, no one gives you the space to explore these options. I know i can’t speak for everyone, but I’m willing bet that’s the case for the majority of us habeshas. I can almost picture it-  a boy walks home, back from school and enthusiastically declares abaye abaye beka sadeg yemehonewen awkalew. Father says men leje? The boy goes Anati! can’t you just picture the father: leziw new ehe hulu lefate belo arif tefi lejun siyakemsew.  I sure can. Most parents send their kids to school in the hopes providing their kids with greater possibilities and in the Ethiopian reality those possibilities are rarely found in being Anati.

        I wondered how many of us actually dreamed of becoming what we wanted to become. Not only because we weren’t encouraged to explore different possibilities but also because we didn’t even know some possibilities even existed – who knew there were Cryptozoologists! ( incase you didn’t know it’s the study of animals that are not currently empirically proven to exist!) – gize siteref yeluachuhal. What’s more interesting is that most of us don’t quite realize it – it is almost second nature to us Ethiopians to be practical – get a job that brings in the money, the respect, keza demo arif mist/bal

        Well, I guess one of the perks of being in the developed West is the wider pool of possibilities. In the developed West, if basic conditions are met, you can become what it is you really want to be and still be practical and make a living out of it. But as an Ethiopian you know that you can’t aspire to became “the cake boss,” when you know there isn’t enough bread to eat at home. That’s the reality – a not so pleasant one…

      But as i ponder about this reality, sitting on my bed typing these words, i realize something – at the end of the day, i’m grateful, actually happy, i was raised to be practical. I may have been a fabulous home decorator or a sesky anati, but what i currently aspire to become –  my practical dream – shall suffice, because what it will do is contribute to the widening of possibilities for generations to come and narrow the gap between the practical and the dream. In the mean time… i shall soon head back to that cafe and take delight in a cheese cake i had my eyes on.

Until next time, beselam yagenagnen.

A thousand miles…

      I’m an individual with too many thoughts going through my head in most of the hours i am awake and breathing. I think about my family, my friends, my country. I think about food, coffee, love and sex. I think about poverty, human rights, education, politics, philosophy. I think about depression, happiness, human character, simplicity, randomness…

     I’ve decided to constantly share these thoughts with you via this blog, mainly to initiate discussions about topics that concern most of us as residents of this planet, but also topics that make us laugh, cry and make us go ‘wey tarik!‘. This is the first of hopefully many entries to come.

     Hopefully these short paragraphs are enough for a quick introduction. Until next time, beselam yagenagnen.