Out in the Street

Ghent centrum is spectacular. If you Google the city, you’ll see the famous churches, the musical bell tower, the Leie River lined with hundreds of people sitting and standing – enjoying the sun. I love this too. It’s a big part of being at home.

I’m also a curious soul. What is life like on the edges, where few tourists ramble? Where do the locals hang their hats?

I’ve found many such places. They’re ordinary … and real. Last night I sat on the sidewalk of the Sleepstraat, a street at the centre of the Turkish community in Ghent.

I discovered an Afghani and Iranian restaurant called De Saffraan. I was welcomed with big smiles by two teenaged employees. I sat outside and over the next hour-and-a-half discovered exquisite flavours: chicken with a secret spice, saffron-laced rice, a huge flatbread sweetened by tzatziki sauce, spinach with little nuts, and a mysterious, delightful pudding.

I was going to taste an Afghani saffron beer but they were out of it. So I gladly sipped on my Duvel. Mid-meal the liquid had disappeared so logically I needed to have another.

The server, perhaps 15-years-old, was so sweet. She really wanted me to enjoy the meal. Like me, she loves Ghent. I asked if she wanted to live again in Afghanistan and she said no. Women are treated like possessions there.

I had other visitors. As I sat outside, the windows to the restaurant were open. To my left there was a large upholstered sitting area. One little boy, and later another, poked their head out and we waved to each other. They spoke their language. I spoke mine. We understood each other’s smiles.

And then there was life passing by me on the Sleepstraat. I thought of a Bruce Springsteen song:

When I’m out in the street
I walk the way I want to walk
When I’m out in the street
I talk the way I want to talk

Families walked by. Friends. Languages I didn’t know. Trams floated. (I love trams) Some young cars revved their motors. Here and there a stooped old man or woman. All of it! A few who came close smiled. Me too.


Did I mention I’m happy?

2 thoughts on “Out in the Street

  1. Your happy totally shows in each and every thought you write and the lovely photos yu snap! I am happy you have found your happy place!

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