Ever since my arrival, I have been struck by how few women I see in public, especially in the center of town after working hours. That's when the tea rooms, cafes and restaurants seem to attract a clientele consisting solely of men. Last night I joined them.
I got together with the guy I befriended in the pizza shop on my first day. His name is Ahmed. We met on the main boulevard downtown where he introduced me to his buddy Walid. The three of us walked through the crowd to an outdoor cafe to join two female acquaintances. The five of us passed some time over a cup of capucin, which is a local variation of cappuccino. There was nothing noteworthy about our gathering except for the fact that it included two women. But they left not long after the men arrived.
We three guys then set out to find a place for a beer and some food. Ahmed and Walid led me to a restaurant that they knew well. When I walked in, there was not a woman in sight. As I looked through the menu for something to eat, I asked my companions about a dish whose name I did not recognize. I've since forgotten what it was called, but it consists of a bull's family jewels. I took a pass. There seemed to be enough testosterone in the room already.
We spent 5 hours drinking, eating and talking. During that time, two more men joined us: Ahmed's brother Sami and Walid's co-worker Anouar. It was often hard for me to keep up with the conversation because it was clear that they were speaking frarabic. What’s more, the Tunisian version is replete with vulgarities. I suppose that’s to be expected from a culture where the men appear to spend so much time bonding with each other.