Habesha Gatherings Etiquette.

Dear Diary,

You and I haven’t crossed paths lately. I’m not quite sure why. Possibly because I’ve been too busy, or maybe it’s because I’m too embarrassed to admit that I’ve become a ‘menga among the menages?‘ Remember when we promised never to become one of those? Ay lijinet! Many things have changed since I last wrote to you – Americans sent a black guy to the White House who, by the way, managed to kill that terrorist (talk about a cliche), the Arabs have been busy with revolutions, it is rumored that Ethiopians are now paying 180 birr for one Kilo of coffee, and I have started recycling.

But onto more serious matters. I hear there will be a huge gathering of Ethiopians in the Peach State in a matter of weeks. Such gatherings happen every year during the weekend of the 4th of July. It’s quite the anticipated event. Thousands of habesha people get together to watch football (the real one) and party those couple of nights away. Don’t think it’s happening in some yewedeke venue, as some might expect, no sir, it’s ain’t. It will be centered, i hear, at a huge Dome where the Americans play their version of eger kuass (incase you’re wondering there is no involvement of eger in this game.)

As you might expect, there are a list of etiquette one is advised to follow during such gatherings involving our people. So in case you decide to visit the State during that week, I’ve decided to share a few of them with you.

For one, you better not look shabby when you arrive to the event. The event is strictly ‘gotata free.’  Which is why, i hear, every habesha male and female goes onto a shopping spree at least 2 months in advance, even if they have to go on a diet of noodles and yegzer weha to make it happen. No one is going to get caught dead looking less than average. I must say, this gives me quite the worry since the only shopping i’ve done lately, and i assume this will be the case for a while to come, is at babiesrus. Hmmm I wonder if they carry sesky shoes for mamas? ( you know what, this could be a great business idea to pitch to the babiesrus people! hotmamasrus?… possible? No? ok i’m trailing of.)

Second, I hear you gotta have a lil extra dough in hand (as taboo as it is to discuss money, a good friend shared this insight with me). Aside from the expected expenses you may have when deciding to join this party, ( hotel, transportation, meals, drinks) you may find yourself in a situation where you feel you will have to pay for others. “Have to” here is a very sensitive and culture specific phrase. You won’t be forced to wash dishes if, say, you don’t pay for a meal. But yilugnta, the trigger of major stress in every Habesha, and ego, the torturer of every Habesha man, will force you to do so. Since the Habesha female suffers less from the issue of 10 anbessa autobiss-put-together sized ego, this problem is faced mainly by men.

Third, Fugera, for this week only, is allowed. Actually in some circumstances, it’s also advised. Keep in mind, this act is only allowed under a need-to-save-face bases. Don’t let yourself be caught in a highly exaggerated fugera. You won’t want to be blowing your own horn to be heard all the way to Timbuktu, one reaching the Metro area shall suffice. This is the case because of the countless high school and other related reunions that take place during the gathering. Let’s face it, there’s always that idiot overachiever that oozes out ‘i got a great life and i look better than you’ bullshit from his every pore. So feel free to embellish a little bit about your own life. Life ain’t perfect, and if you feel like you’ve been thrown a little more than your share of curve balls, and you don’t feel like being thrown a pity party by the idiot or that chemlaka ye’bole lij, forget your reality for that week, feel and look fabulous – yet abatu – man ke man yansal!

These are only a handful of etiquette that i hear will be respected by every Habesha that will be attending this year’s July 4 celebration taking place in Atlanta, GA. Lucky for me, since i currently reside in the city, if the above rules and regulations seem a bit too much, i shall spend my days at home, with my not so fancy attire and my in-need-of-some-embellishment lifestyle. But if i feel up to it, i shall join the party looking fabulous. And incase i run into you, Dear Diary, i promise to buy you the meal (ok, maybe not the meal, but definitely the drink), just remember to limit the Fugera, eshi.

Tena Yistelegn.

A Letter to a friend: To Commit or Not To Commit.

I wanted to share with you a letter i wrote to a friend on August 3, 2008. It was written in a moment of confusion, in my moment of naivete. I’ve learnt a lot of lessons in these past three years. If there is one lesson that resonated with the me today while rereading this letter three years down the road, it’s that of listening to the self, listening to your heart. It is true what they say, your heart will never deceive you, it will lead you to your destiny.


P.S the letter has been edited for the sake of clarity.

“My Dearest Friend,

How wonderful it is to be single! What a relief it is to have nothing to lose, to not be responsible for another individual, to simply live for yourself, being the best person you know how, and just be. You know that feeling where you have everything under your control, to wake up every morning and know what you’re going to be doing for the rest of the day, to know that you are the one and only individual who can harm yourself, thereby decreasing to the minimum the risk of pain and disappointment? You have everything and everyone at a distance and you can be your fabulous self, and – not care. Period.

I know, of course, there are those nights when you crave for another humans touch, where loneliness creeps up and makes you question that very fabulous self that has always been on ‘the straight path.’ Loneliness is a difficult emotion to get use to, yagerochachen sewoch endemilut – meches men yemayelemed neger ale, i doubt applies to it. Can anyone of us really ever get use to the feelings… our bodies screaming for affection, our emotions seeking deep understanding, without having it be fulfilled? Aren’t there moments where for a few scary minutes, nothing matters under the sun except having a significant other next to you? And you want it so bad that nothing, absolutely nothing else matter… making you forget the blissfulness of single-hood?

So which path to take? Are we to be so terrified of loneliness so much that we bring in so many complication in our lives just to avoid it? If i chose to be single, am i risking too much? Will i be one of those women my mom talks about – “rasachewen semay seklew komew yehew keru!” – yemibaluten. Will i regret that decision i’ve made of going only after my career in a couple years and realize that it was simply not be worth it? Should I just give up on a human beings’ ability to stand up just on its own?

If i choose to be two, who and what is the other individual suppose to be? Is that touch i crave for each night expected to come from a specific kind of individual? Or are relationships much more than the touch, the security, the simple beautiful moments of bliss you share with that one person? Should i be satisfied if he satisfies me and only me, or should i make sure that he goes beyond that and satisfies my – mom, uncles, aunts, brother, friends, my friends families, professors, my fellow workers, financial advisor, that man my dad was close friends with, and that other lady I’ll meet while having coffee at…Why am i not so certain, why do i think of everyone’s opinion except my own?

Of course there is that incident where i find that ‘Mr. Perfect,’ the right guy on paper. Wouldn’t it be easy to just commit to him? I know such a guy might most likely fail to get up in the middle of the night to go get you cold water because he has that research to work on first thing in the morning, he lacks to understand that him showing his vulnerability does not mean he’s showing his weakness, he lacks to impress you even when he has himself placed within the creme de la creme. With such a man, you might go to sleep each night being thankful for the life God has given you, because such a life mostly comes with security and predictability, but that same night you will probably wonder if that true love they write about, in fact, exists. If you are lucky, you’ll be given the ability to brush such thoughts out of your head and live your ‘good’ life, if you’re not so lucky you’ll have convinced yourself that true love is only a fairy tale created for the entertainment of the mind, nothing really- only fantasy – and you will have lived the life lived by millions – void of pure love, real intimacy, dedication and inner joy. The sad thing is, no matter how bad I’ve attempted to make this sound unattractive – how easy this path is! you receive approval from your surrounding, you deny your naive self and convince yourself of the truth contrary to your initial ‘idealistic’ beliefs. Really, what more would you want if you’re successful when it comes to your financial stability, if you have the handsome and “educated” husband, your Mercedes and a house with a backyard…. Isn’t this what I should want? Isn’t this what I want? Is it? I don’t know. What is it that’s going to matter 20 years from now?

Oh yeah and also, what’s that bullshit that people talk about – ” you’ll just know when you meet the right person, that he is in fact the right person. Really?!? I’ve never heard of anything so ridiculous!!! what the heck happens to those of us who haven’t been able to ‘just know’. Are we somehow deprived of an instinct that the few lucky ones have been given? Are we suppose to feel somehow inadequate? If your logical self hasn’t made you get to a certain conclusion, are you suppose to wait for some sort of a sign that will tell you what your next action should be? By the way, does it come in a whisper in the night or some sort of a loud God-sounding voice telling you – He’s the one? really, what should we expect? This would be a good tip to have. I mean we wouldn’t want to not be alert enough to miss the sign, do we? So please why don’t these – ‘you just know’ communities share their wisdom? Bullshit! – that’s what i think it is, you just don’t know. you live and you see, you work hard on relationships and you become honest about what it is you really want in your life, you stop being a hypocrite and embrace the ideas you’ve been preaching all your life. There is no way you just know. You take time and then you know… after that, maybe, you pray to the all mighty that you’re done your best to find the perfect mate (if there is even such a thing), after that point, he will hopefully take over…

I hope i’m not sounding bitter, because i’m really not. I am confused – i can’t deny that and i wish i could just crawl under my bed and stay there for the next six month… well i guess that’s not reality and that doesn’t show the strength i claim to have. so i’ll pray and i’ll just wait and see…

Awaiting your reply,

P.S uffff, it sure does feel good to vent!”

Tena Yistelegn.