I once lived on Avenue de La Grenade, ominously we could say, as "grenade" in french means pomegranate, a fruit representing luck and prosperity in Iranian and Afghan cultures. I moved to Geneva for the second time in July 1998, as a bride, (we honeymooned in February because we knew Geneva summers were more pleasant than midwinters),and we lived in a one bedroom flat in the Eaux Vives. I spent a beautiful year and a half on Avenue de la Grenade, comfortably settling in married life with a man I had loved for five years before we married.
Nowadays, I summer in Geneva with my three children, and we often return to Avenue de la Grenade to rent books from the public library. The following is a funny tale we once encountered in that library. I am translating it loosely from the original:
In December, Little Red Riding Hood wanted to go to the city for a change. No sooner had she arrived that all the children ran to her:
"Santa, Santa where are our gifts?
- But I am the Little Red Riding Hood.
-No you aren't, we want gifts."
The wolf happened to come by at that moment, riding a tricycle.
"Wolf, wolf, eat me up so these kids believe me."
The wolf looked at her and replied: "No, each time I devour you a hunter comes by and opens my stomach up! I refuse to eat you anymore."
Little Red Riding Hood went back home, changed into a green cape and returned to the city. The children ran after her once again, but this time, they screamed:
" Look, look it's Peter Pan!"
My kids and I gigggle so much when we read that book. We take pride in abusing the Swiss public library system, borrowing nothing less than 40 children's books a week. We have done most of the Geneva public libraries, assuming that like parks, variety is more entertaining and enriching.
When we head to the one on Avenue de La Grenade, my children point to a modern building. "Is that where you and baba used to live?", they ask. I tell them yes, and that we also happened to live close to a mosque, one without a minaret, a simple green roofed house.
Those first years of marriage were filled with lovely moments. I had finished writing my Phd thesis already, as I am not one to leave things to the last minute, but I worked with professors and advisors on the edits. I churned in the chapters and they responded at a snail's pace. My husband was a private banker at the time. Instead of sleeping in, I would wake up early with him and share coffee at a cafe, then walk with him to work and run my simple errands. Errands consisted of buying the multiple ingredients for cooking our extravagant meals.
When I first got married I wasn't a cook (I still can't claim I am a good one), but I spent that year and a half working on various Indian, Persian and Italian recipes. I immersed myself in cookbooks, measuring, chopping, mincing. My husband returned at the end of the day to add the final touches. We cooked in a wok because my husband notoriously loves Chinese food and we tasted many sweet plum sauces and cornstarch filled dishes. Today, as a family, we have limited our meals to the more simple ones.
After dinner and dishes, weather permitting, we would go on long walks, discovering the side streets, the cafes, the old city. In our neighborhood of Eaux Vives, we discovered its Italian side, with its fifty pizzerias, corner butcher, pawn shops.
Before immersing myself in motherhood, my hobby was puzzles, 1000 to 5000 pieces each, and of course, alway an image of a piece of art: Kandinsky, Van Dongen and my favorite Gaugin. In those days, I wasn't worried that small puzzle pieces were chocking hazards or could get lost. Today, my kids have taken over the tradition and my sons are wizzard puzzle makers.
Eventually, we moved from Avenue de la Grenade and found a charming two bedroom apartment in the same neighborhood, that we still use today. Old style, grand French windows and a parquet that sqweaks. A few years later, after having our eldest son, we decided to relocate to Dubai. My husband always prides himself for having brought me back to Geneva where I had lived as an adolescent and then back to Dubai where I grew up as a child. Beirut where I was born and nurtured as a baby is the final destination.