I expect everyone has happened sometime or other to get lost in a reverie sparkled by an external factor, but when more than one element combine, as if by wicked coincidence, to stir up long forgotten memories, one lays completely under the spell of a daydream. I was recently caught in one of these situations and the memory evoked was not just a fond one, but also conjured up by a funny set of circumstances in an unlikely place, which made the recollection particularly enjoyable to indulge in.
I was staying at a quaint fishermen's village on the Atlantic coast of Senegal. One morning I was munching a baked bean sandwich sipping ginger-spiced coffee, a typical Senegalese breakfast, sitting on a bench in the sand next to the seller's ramshackle kiosk.
As usual, I had been handed the sandwitch wrapped in newspaper, which for some strange reason was always Tunisian. This country's president-dictator had recentely been destituted, I mused. I thought I'd roll out the scrap and read some Arabic, and found the newspaper was a few months old. The cutting was printed with the announcement of the national railways company crawlingly sending the president and his corrupt spouse public wishes on a national feast.
How funny it all seemed! In the middle of the page stood Ben Ali's grinning portrait, unsuspecting that in a few month's time his posters that the whole country was plastered with, would be torn down and spat on by irate citizens. This was enough to suck me into a Tunisian whirlpool, bringing back memories of two summers spent at Arabic school, with an upset mind that only found its peace in an unsound craving for studying.
At that point, I thought I'd accompany my last sips of coffee with a fag, so I bought a menthol cigarette at the booth nearby. It may not have been pure chance that I chose exactly that kind, because I occasionally smoked menthol cigarettes in Tunisia. Anyway, the upshot was that the smoke flowing down into my lungs triggered more mindwork and now the scene was not only made of loose memories, but it was also populated by the friends I knew there. It was so vivid that I was brought back body and soul to the time of my Tunisian summers, with loads of nostalgia...