Lunch with GahlebFriday, May 12, 2006
I’ve just returned from my instructor’s house, Ghaleb, about an hour ago and I must say that I had a very enjoyable time with him. You know an instructor must be doing something right when students come here to study and ask for him upon recommendation of friends that have studied with him.
The beauty of being able to spend time outside of class with my instructor is that, as my instructor, he’s familiar with the level of my Arabic and he can adjust his conversation appropriately. If he does use a word that I don’t understand I just ask him the meaning and he will try to use it in a manner in which I will understand through context. Of course, if push comes to shove he can just tell me in English. Initially I thought that he would want to take the opportunity to practice his English (which is good) but no, he only spoke Arabic straight from the get-go.
That being said, we had what I thought to be a great conversation during my time there. I felt like I was really on top of my game. To be honest, I felt more comfortable talking to him in at his place than in class as I didn’t feel as if I were under any pressure.
Lunch was also very tasty! It consisted of a very spicy broth in the beginning and after that there was the ubiquitous chicken and rice but also beef, Yemeni pizza, and some other vegetable dishes that don’t really have comparisons back home. The dessert was Bint as-Sahn, which is a type of pan bread covered with honey. Ironically, he (and most Yemenis) uses honey produced outside of Yemen because Yemeni honey is so expensive.
I would hazard that almost all Yemenis eat on the floor as this is the third Yemeni house at which I’ve eaten (the first time was at the new student luncheon, the second was at Abdul Rahman’s) where I ate on the floor. They put down some type of plastic tarp (it varies slightly) and put the plates of food on the tarp.