Last week I was invited to have lunch with a group of Diplowives. I was, as always a bit hesitant, but opted go for two reasons.
One is that I thought I was invited to have a private dinner with one of the heads of a ladies group who also happened to be a very important lady here in Libya. I wasn’t really up to go socializing, but didn’t want to turn down her invitation, afraid that she might think of me snotty and disrespectful.
Even though I later found out that it was a group date, I still decided to go because I didn’t want to stay home and be saturated with news of Manny Pacquiao. I am proud of his victories as a Filipino, I just think that he is starting to get over-rated. Plus I hate, seeing his huge entourage composed of ass-kissing politicians and others who just want to get in on some exposure.
Anyway, the lunch was held in a villa outside Tripoli. I’ve never been to a villa before, and must admit that I never really thought of visiting one. I suppose I now have an idea what Elizabeth Bennet felt the first time she saw Mr. Darcy’s estate. It was like being in a Good Housekeeping magazine cover. The actual houses (emphasis on the plural) in the villa are placed after another drive-way, where I passed a mini-zoo, a tennis court and an orchard of oranges and tangerines.
I was the first to arrive and was greeted by the hostess. I had met her once before in a more formal gathering, but didn’t really got the chance to talk to her, except for the usual small-talk. When I arrived at her villa, I was surprised at how warm her welcome was. It was if she was welcoming a relative. After she kissed both my cheeks, she looked at me with a smile and asked me how I was, she held my hand and didn’t let go as she lead me inside. In another incident, the unavoidable how-young-I-was factor was mentioned, and when I told her I was only 25 years old, she heartily laughed and suddenly hugged me. I was taken aback, struck at her warmth towards someone she barely knows.
Eventually the other Diplowives arrived and we soon found ourselves having delicious Libyan meals. We had Shurba, warm Libyan soup for starters; their version of Libyan spinach Lasagna, with rice and meat wrapped in cabbage leaf, broiled chicken; and Ashura (I think its wheat, boiled with milk topped with pomegranates) for desert.
I found myself silent and contented to be a listener, as they exchanged views and tips on random things, from where to fly to next, to shopping tips, to where to get the best highlights here in Tripoli. All this they talked about transitioning from one language to another; I so envied how they would be speaking in French at one point, look to their right and change to Arabic for another.
The conversation wasn’t all light. They also talked about changes they’ve observed in Libya over the years that they have been here; how its development also brought some challenges like heavy traffic in key roads.
Like I said, I didn’t mind not talking because I knew that I was in a different kind of league. As I sat there and slowly soaked in everything they said, I admired how everything seemed so natural to them as if they’ve prepared for this all their lives. I wondered whether their being so wonderfully cosmopolitan was polished naturally as part of marrying a diplomat. I wondered if they were once like me; lost in translation amidst a group of fancy, trilingual, well-traveled women. Was this going to be my future? If it is, it wouldn’t be so bad at all.