bill_schubert

Writing

I stopped writing on a daily basis after the end of the year.  Travel and some sickness and general ennui conspired to break the habit of three months.  I'm a streaker.  People who watch me do things are amazed at how I throw myself into them but they are not there when, one day, I just stop.  

Weirdly I found a hole in my conscious and figured out after a few weeks that it was the lack of writing.  If I force myself to work the 750words.com site I have a tether to the world.  At worst if I do nothing constructive the rest of the day, I've written 750 words.  At best it manages to empty out the garbage in my mind.  So I started again and picked up more of my story.  Here's a rather undramatic excerpt: 

After the dip south we headed northwest into the Indian Ocean and to a weird place in the central IO called Diego Garcia.  It is an island managed by the British and part of the Chagos Archipelago and is middle of nowhere.  It became a strategic base in the cold war as a communications station and an airfield where the antisubmarine and surveillance planes called P3's were kept.  I have no idea why we stopped at Diego Garcia but stop we did and I went ashore.  Nothing but sand and palm trees and squat cement block buildings for the flyers and communicators and little else.  The flyers promised sea snakes and sharks in the water so no one went swimming.  All beach and no swimming.  Just weird.

We did not spend long there and headed north to the Persian Gulf.

It was the first of two trips to the gulf.  I went before the first Gulf war and again just after the war.  I don't remember, this time, entering the Gulf but we ended up in Bahrain which, at the time, was a welcoming port for the U.S.  We walked the streets without fear of anything.   I'm pretty sure that is no longer the case but we were welcomed.  Four of us, in liberty white uniforms, went out together to find a place to eat.  I think it was my roommate Dan who stopped a random guy on the street and asked for a recommendation.  The guy, who spoke English, took us to a small restaurant and we all sat down to a dinner.  It was Ramadan so no one was eating until sundown.  I can't remember if we waited or not but it was a thing to do so and I suspect we waited.  The menu was in Arabic and no one in the restaurant spoke English. For some reason there were English category headings in the menu of Fish, Pork, Beef and Chicken.  So basically the idea was to pick your category and then randomly point out a dinner within that category and get a surprise dinner.  We did that.  I picked pork, I think, and whatever I got was OK.  Not stellar and I didn't really even know what I was eating other than the pork but I managed.  

The other thing that stands out from the stop in Bahrain was that we could buy pistachios.  This was a big deal at the time.  Iran was the primary supplier of pistachios to the U.S. and that supply line had dried up with the Iranian revolution and the California pistachio growers did not really exist yet.  I bought kilo bags of Iranian pistachios, a bunch of them.  I also bought some lovely Pakistan carved wooden boxes that would fit a kilo of pistachios.  Once back on the ship I mailed them to family.  One of those boxes still exists in susandennis's  possession.  

The other thing I discovered there was shawarma and I've never had anything on the street so good.  The vendors would have a lamb vertically on a spit with an electric cooking coil running up and down next to it.  The spit turned and they would periodically cut off a slice and put it in pita bread slathered with garlic mayonnaise.  I knew at the time that I was unlikely to see that again and ate so much I nearly was sick.  Sure enough I've never had a comparable experience.

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