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Free Ethnic Food, Syrian Embassy’s Guestbook and Other Updates

Sure don’t feel like writing another post now and was about to give in and end up with a Sunday update tomorrow, but I guess I’ll give it a try and start with what actually happened to cause my UPS to beep yesterday morning, when it woke me up after I had just managed to get back to sleep. I actually edited that bit of yesterday’s post last evening, when the matter was clarified, to say there was no power for a few minutes instead of mentioning an outage, because the real reason for it was that the light bulb that’s on the hallway, above the door to my room, burned out quite spectacularly, parts of the switch apparently ending up quite melted as well and causing the master circuit breaker to turn off all power, so getting past the one for the lights in that part of the house. That explained how I was still getting a network signal, the switch at the top of the building obviously still having power, but after checking the kitchen light as well and seeing that there was no power there either, I just reacted, meaning to shut down my computer.
Didn’t actually let it shut down though, because the fact that I got out of my room and checked the kitchen light also made dad, who was probably on his laptop at the time, figure out what was happening and turn the power back on, I guess after unscrewing the light bulb, since he said later that the switch was stuck. So I ended up having power again right after clicking to shut down, being able to cancel the process when that notification about something not shutting down right away briefly appeared. Still, despite logging off and then back on, I wasn’t sure everything was right, so took the opportunity to reboot in order to run chkdsk on the system partition. Since I normally only reboot when required to do so by updates, hadn’t done that in quite a long time.

After that, I stayed awake, grabbing something to eat, writing yesterday’s post, and only crawling back to bed at about 4:20 PM, or maybe even 4:30 PM. Shortly after 6 PM I woke up due to a dream that I was reacting physically too, starting to punch the bed and the pillow, continuing the fight in the dream, but I quickly realized I was actually awake and could be seen by anyone living in the other buildings around here, since the blinds were up and there was light, stopping abruptly without having calmed down. Went to the toilet after that, but trying to get back to sleep didn’t go so well, and then my phone beeped to let me know it needed charging a few minutes before 7 PM, just when I was finally drifting off again. Eventually fell asleep some time after that, and was up again at 8:20 PM, so I again only got to that total of about five or, at best, five and a half hours, split in quite a few parts.

To finish with yesterday, watched parts of the US Open matches in the evening, and I was just making a mental note that I followed it way less this year than I normally would have. I hadn’t even visited the site until today, and watched less as well… But I always have very mixed feelings about this tournament, not only because of that final set tie-break, which definitely shouldn’t happen in such major tournaments, but probably even more so because it takes place during the time of year when Andra didn’t allow me in the room while she was there and awake back then, before leaving, and I was spending a good part of my time watching it in the living room. 12 years and I still can’t say whether that means it brings bad memories or bittersweet ones, since at least she was still around, even under those circumstances, and there was that final, very brief, better period to come.

Moving on to today, I checked out the part of The Embassies’ Festival taking place in the park, after having also checked out the exposition of traditional clothing, items and art that’s elsewhere on Thursday. Also Thursday, I took the opportunity to drop off the three books I had forgotten about over three months ago, when I actually thought I had only forgotten about two, so I had even forgotten what I had forgotten. Had noticed that a bookstore had a box for donations for orphanages, so if I had a reason to return to that area, I took those there as well… And then, after visiting the exposition, I was considering going to a discussion with USR’s Local Council members, but I left too early, as it was just after 6:10 PM when I was in front of the listed location and it was only supposed to start at 7 PM, so I didn’t wait.
But to return to today, I wandered around there for a while, first getting a general idea about what I guess was the “World Bazaar” area, then walking to the stage and glancing at the food stalls that were on that alley. One offering Spanish food was also offering samples of some sort of meat and I took one on my way back, then tried to spear an olive from one of the large bowls with the toothpick from the sample, failing at first and prompting one of the workers to pick some up with the ladle in order to allow me to do so more easily. And then, just as it was dawning on me that the olives were probably not supposed to be samples, but actually for sale, I decided I had been rude enough by taking one without even asking for it to not make much of a difference if I’ll take another as well, from another bowl, so did just that before returning to the other area. Besides, that first olive looked quite rotten, being clearly the one that looked most suspicious out of those picked up in that ladle, but for some reason that’s where my toothpick went and then I decided I’ll just eat it anyway.
Back in the “World Bazaar” area, I decided to go around one more time, trying to compose a message to write in the guestbook available in the Syrian tent, which presented images of a past Syria and, interestingly, wasn’t manned by anybody at all. And pretty much at the start of this second “tour” I saw somebody placing servings of rice on the table in Pakistan’s tent, and when I approached I was immediately handed one, the person who did that just telling me, mostly through gestures, to take it when I tried to ask what it was, another person who was eating just saying that it was rice. Very spicy rice, as I immediately noticed, with some other things thrown in, a little piece of meat and the pit of some sort of fruit with none of the flesh still on it. Would have been interesting to know more about the ingredients.
After that, I noticed that Malaysia’s tent was gathering quite a lot of people, many taking glasses of some pink drink that didn’t look appetizing to me, so I stepped aside and waited my turn for the snack they were also freely offering. You could read what each of the things they were offering was and how it was made, but I don’t remember what I read there, so I tried to figure it out after I got back and I’m pretty sure the snack was Roti Jala. Each person was helping to pour their own, with the person working there holding their hand and moving that special utensil, and then they were asked whether they wanted curry or sweet sauce. They were saying the curry wasn’t spicy, and apparently pretty much everybody else was asking for that, so they had even covered the pot with the sweet one, but I wasn’t going to risk it after the rice, so picked sweet instead.
After finishing the food, I meant to continue this second “tour”, but saw the sector’s mayor there, with cameras chasing him, so I returned to the Syrian tent and wrote my message, which was, translated, “I wish the day will come when Syria will return to peace, once again becoming deserving of its rich history, having an administration that is democratic, secular and which defends the rights and freedoms of all, the environment and its cultural heritage, freeing itself from both the yoke of the current regime as well as the threat of militant extremists.” Sounds all too formal and weird, and it’s rather funny to write that in a guestbook provided by said “current regime”, but the latter part was just the point, while the former was the best I could manage at that moment.
That done, I got back to the other side of the area, but the wind was picking up, so I just had another quick look on the side I hadn’t properly checked out a second time, but only made one last stop at Russia’s tent, which was the last one, initially just grabbing a little toffee. But they were also offering some juice and a cup was right in front of me, so I got curious and grabbed that as well, asking what it was. Didn’t get a straight answer, first being asked what I thought it was, whether it was Pepsi, and only after a while being told it was some sort of non-alcoholic, sweetened beer. Was also eventually given a name, but I wonder whether that was the brand, because otherwise that description, the way it looked and that question about it being like Pepsi seem to quite clearly identify it as kvass.

With the previous section being mostly about free ethnic food, I’ll now skip back to last Sunday, when I was alone during the day but didn’t feel like making myself something to eat, as I had made something the day before and was going to do so again Monday and Tuesday. Fortunately, there was a Turkish festival in the same place in the park, and they had announced offering free shawarma and kebab, so I decided to go there. Was a bit pressed for time, with the race starting at 3 PM and the festival supposed to start at noon, but I was woken up at about 10 AM by drilling and hammering and I was there just before noon… Only to have to wander around, sit on a bench and wait, then wander around some more, because not even the few tents that were selling something were ready on time, and the free food was yet to start being offered even at 12:45 PM, when I took my place in one of the lines.
Of course, couldn’t complain about that, seeing as it was free, so I patiently waited, even though the line I was in started being served later and was going very slowly compared to the other one. There was quite a difference in what had to happen for each serving between the two, as at the other tent it was simply a matter of taking some meat from a large pile and putting it in the bread, as they were using halves of a plain loaf of white bread instead of flatbread, while at this one it involved one person cutting some pieces of meat now and then, the others occasionally needing to wait for him to cut some more, and others putting it, cabbage and onion in the loaf of bread. And some people were pushing their way forward, so I ended up losing quite a number of positions, as I wasn’t going to fight for my place in a line for free food.
Eventually, after about an hour of waiting in that line, I got my food and moved to the other, thinking I’ll eat while waiting. However, that was moving so quickly that I had barely managed to take a few bites when my turn came and I ended up with something in each hand, continuing to eat while at first wandering around to have a look at the few other tents, selling desserts, ice cream and some drinks, plus one offering henna hand painting. Also returned in front of the stage at one point, wanting to read what was written on the t-shirt of the girl singing at that moment, and actually wanting to hear her sing that particular song a bit better as well, since it was a decent cover of a Romanian song that’s not that bad in itself, at least when it comes to the vocals, and that was quite a welcome surprise after the truly dreadful performance of the singer who had been on stage before her and the few uncoordinated little girls attempting to dance on some Latin music before that, not that I’d have any idea why a Latin dance school was represented on the stage of a festival organized by a Turkish organization with the occasion of Kurban Bayram. The Turkish student who performed the Whirling Dervish dance before that definitely belonged, and he seemed to be performing well, but it did look rather sad to see a single person on stage for that dance.
Either way, I eventually sat on a bench until I almost finished eating, though when a boy who was presented as being in sixth grade and singing something that was, I believe, a mix between hip hop and dance took the stage I got up and left, finishing the rest on the way back. My lips and gums ended up rather scratched by the bread’s crust, but I had eaten quite well, the food was tasty, if not exactly healthy, and I didn’t have to do or pay anything for it… Unless having to listen to that first singer counts as a price, but at least she was Turkish I guess, and I was probably too critical of the whole thing in this piece anyway. But that’s how I usually am about anything, after all.

As for this week’s run, it was Tuesday, and I did manage to stay under 49 minutes for the fourth time in a row. Only barely, the time being 48:55 and that requiring all I had. Sector times were 4:34, 5:05, 5:51, 4:30, 5:06, 6:02, 4:33, probably 5:17, probably 6:05, and 1:52, making for lap times of 15:30, 15:38 and 15:55. I’m quite sure of that time for lap three’s second sector, but have to say I was uncertain right after I finished, probably because I had checked the time shortly before the end of the lap and saw 46:48, my mind likely replacing the 58 of the previous intermediate time, which would have been 40:58, with that 48 seen just before setting the next intermediate on my stopwatch and therefore erasing that previous one.
Ran using my regular shoes again, as I once again put them on by mistake. This time I realized it sooner, shortly after exiting the building, but I didn’t come back to change them, so that was likely worth a few seconds, and the route wasn’t clear either. Still, I started well and the first lap was fast, but I knew I couldn’t keep that up, so was actually thinking I should get 15:30 because otherwise I won’t have enough of a buffer later. And that was exactly what I managed, so I then aimed for 15:40 on lap two, managing to be just a little bit faster than that, and then ideally for 15:50 on the third, though I was also allowing myself to get to 16:00. And I sure needed that buffer, because I gave it everything, especially on that lap’s third sector, and only barely managed to be in between those two targets. With 16:00 I’d have had to be at least a second faster on the final sector in order to stay under 49 minutes, so that was really close… And my liver and other things in the area were hurting a fair bit after I was done.

Another thing that may have affected my performance just a little bit was being woken up by my phone ringing at about 11:50 AM that day, and then needing to quickly change my pants, dig through pockets for my keys, and open the door to receive a parcel my mother had ordered, since she was only getting back that evening. Dad had told me about it in the evening, but said it was supposed to arrive at about 2 PM or maybe just before that, actually saying that he means maybe 15 minutes or so before, not at noon. Well, no, it wasn’t at noon, it was actually even before noon, as the delivery guy apparently rang then and nobody answered, so he called my mother who then called me to wake me up. And I actually let the phone ring until she got bored of it the first time, only realizing what was probably going on and answering when she rang again.

And now it’s getting close to midnight and this quite surprising women’s US Open final already started, so I really should finish and post this. But before I do I also want to mention that I stuffed myself quite a lot during those days when I was alone during the day, and when I weighed myself after eating on Tuesday I saw 51.5. Admittedly, being immediately after stuffing myself, the comparison isn’t exactly right, but I’m quite sure I didn’t weigh more than that since Andra left… And what makes that rather funny is the fact that a guy who saw me at last Friday’s protest asked what was wrong with me because I had supposedly obviously lost at least five kilograms, which led to a rather awkward conversation, with me trying to convince him that he was wrong.
As far as I’m aware, used to normally weigh between 52 and 54 kilograms before then, though I was only weighing myself a couple of times per year, so variations wouldn’t have been noticed. But after not eating for days then, I ended up at 51, then at 50 after again not eating for days after being thrown back here. The first time I recall seeing 49 was after one of the big marches in 2013, when I also started to weigh myself regularly, being rather concerned by the drop. Still, 49 became pretty normal in 2015, probably due to running regularly, then as I increased the distance of the runs I saw 48, then more recently 47, and at one point even 46. Had returned to 48 or 49 more recently, but 51 and a half is quite something. Considering the circumstances, unlikely to be a sign of returning to what was my normal weight as a teenager, but may at least mark a return to the 50 or 51 that I considered my normal weight since being thrown back here.


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