This is Khalifa and Mabrouk, two brothers I met yesterday wandering around Hara Kebira, the Jewish neighborhood that remains in Djerba (which has a sad and fascinating history).
I’d stopped to photograph a cat, and it was taking me some time (cat was cute), so their friend wandered over to ask if I was lost.
The brothers reminded me of two sisters I’d photographed in Myanmar a long time ago — nearly identical looking, but not twins; roughly the same age, countenances overrun by deep wrinkles; reticent at first, but then garrulous, jovial, and jocular (Khalifa’s ringtone was even loud laughter…he asked us to call to demonstrate it, causing even more laughter, as did my bracelet, which reads “laugh”).
Khalifa is a weaver, and has used his feet to power his loom since 1954. All of the pedaling and weaving on one side has taken its toll. He explained he is crooked now. He is. And he still must weave the garments all the men wear, every day…all day long.
He’s been in this tiny spot in Hara Kebira for the past 15 years. Even though it’s the Jewish neighborhood, all different people have always lived together here. Although now very few Jewish people remain.
Eventually, more friends arrived, and our chat circle grew. I love how no matter where in the world I am, no matter how different our circumstances, conversations always boil down to the same things. We are all the same…we ARE all the same. Just typing that makes me cry.
Then Essayed, a Muslim, and a mason for over 30 years (who first sheepishly, then proudly told me his daughter had just gotten a job…but is married) offered me a Lowenbrau — this in a region where women don’t even go to coffee shops. I accepted…it was Sunday after all. We said cheers and then resumed our conversation about how football players are overpaid.