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america

Safaa and Yasir, Syrian refugees and the owners of Jasmine Syrian Cuisine in Benoni

A Delicious Syrian Meal and a Rant About Refugees

UPDATE (March 2017): I’m very sad to say that Jasmine Syrian Cuisine has closed. I’m not sure why. I’ll post updates here if anything changes. I recently had lunch at a Syrian restaurant, Jasmine Syrian Cuisine, in Joburg’s far-eastern suburb of Benoni. Safaa Jabri Al Rehawi and her husband, Yasir, opened Jasmine last year after moving to South Africa as refugees from Syria. Jasmine’s beautiful wooden front door. Yasir prepares to serve us aromatic Syrian coffee, flavoured with cardamom. A table of delicious food. “Did you run a restaurant in Syria too?” I asked Sanaa as she took our orders and explained the menu in patient detail. Sanaa smiled and shook her head. She was a student back in Damascus, she explained, and Yasir ran a candy shop. “We had to leave…” Sanaa gestured vaguely. “The war. And we had to find something to do here.” I had initially planned to write a restaurant review of Jasmine as part of my #Gauteng52 series. But I’ve decided not to. My friend Marie-Lais, who went to Jasmine with me, has written a fantastic review of the restaurant. Everything you need to know about the food is there. Instead I’m going to talk about Syrian refugees […]

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American flag at Dulles Airport

My America: A Gratitude List

It’s 1:36 a.m. and I’m at my desk, staring at my computer. This never happens. The reason it’s happening now is because: 1) I’m jet-lagged; and 2) I’m sad. I doubt I’ll be sleeping for a while so I might as well do something useful. Two days ago I caught a flight from Washington D.C. to Johannesburg. It was the night before the American election. I arrived in Johannesburg a day later, Tuesday, while the election was still in progress. I couldn’t stay awake late enough to see the results — South Africa is seven hours ahead of the American east coast. But when I switched on my phone this morning, Wednesday, there it was: “Trump looks set to win presidency.” It’s weird that this happened just after I returned from a trip to America. I was shocked beyond belief at the headline above but I think the shock would have been greater — perhaps heart-attack-inducing — if I’d been living my normal life in Joburg for the last two weeks, with my head in the sand regarding U.S. politics. Even though I was there in America, watching hours and hours of news coverage and talking endlessly with everyone about the election for […]

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