books · short-stories

Chapter I – Break in Tunisia

From the book “I-land – A double Irish and a Dutch

A new offer

At 2 pm on a cloudy, stormy day in Tunisia Avoka was sitting in her staff-house room at the Aladdin Club. Avoka had her laptop in front of her and was talking via Google Hangout to two guys from an Indian company, one based in Dublin and the other guy in the Indian headquarters. The forty-something Indian guy was asking her questions about online advertising, stuff like what is a cookie, what data is collected, if she knew what an iframe was and so on. The other guy, a Portuguese around age thirty or even younger, was asking her if she knew what a .jpg or .gif was and what the structure of a .html document was. The Indian guy was saying, “Ok, let’s move on from basic questions to deeper knowledge”, and the interview went on for another half hour. They then told Avoka the agency would contact her, letting her know about further steps, and they finished the hangout.

About a year ago, Avoka had applied with that agency for a job in Internet advertising in Ireland. She went through a couple of tests at that time, but the agency never offered her a job.  Meanwhile, Avoka had been offered another Customer Support role with a company called Fruit of the Loom, also based in Ireland. But because of the work conditions and some bullying issues she had left the job lately, taking a break here in Tunisia while teaching yoga classes.

A week ago, this agency had contacted her on her LinkedIn profile, and had said, the company had changed the position’s skillset and now would be interested.

So, this was the first interview with that Indian company while Avoka was on a job as a yoga teacher in the Tunisian holiday resort.

She was still interested in the job and she had agreed to these interviews.

Actually, the job in the holiday resort did not really match Avoka’s expectations. The job had been introduced to her as a position for a yoga teacher and they had talked about if she could also dance and take part in shows, which she actually had agreed to, as she had previously danced and had done kids’ ballet and jazz for more than 8 years when he was a kid. In her spare time, she also had taught kids’ dance classes herself and had also worked as a Zumba instructor, once in a while, and had a little experience presenting on stage.

But right after her arrival, she was told to introduce herself to the girl who was responsible for the evening program, which she did. Actually, her looking at Avoka said it all in one glance, “if looks could kill”. She asked, “You also did Jazz?”

Avoka replied, “Yes, I did that, too.”

Anita looked at her again “Okay, thank you”, pursing her lips. “Well, I know about it, but we are complete, I only need men.” Avoka replied, “That’s no problem, I can also perform men’s parts. I’ve previously danced as men in a folklore dance.”

Kevyn, who was the male main performer in the shows, agreed by nodding his head up and down.

Anita replied: “Yes, thank you, then I know this now and you made the effort from your site, I appreciate it. Thank you.”

Kevyn standing with wide open eyes now turning his head with a disagreeing gesture but not saying anything.

Avoka looked at Anita, well knowing she would not do a thing to ever putting her in any of the shows: “Thank’s it was nice meeting you. Got to pick up my uniform now.”

Avoka had walked over to the staff administration house to pick up her uniform – white trousers, green shirt – and she was on her period, of course. A white trouser – this could not have been any better color. She had asked the coordinator Peggy for a shop in the area to buy some tampons, who had quickly replied, “They don’t have tampons here; this is Africa!” Avoka asked, “And what do you do when you have your period?” Peggy the coordinator, said, “I always get them from guests who bring them. You can take a taxi on your lunch break; there is a Careefour where you can get something but no tampons.” Avoka replied, “Well, I’ll ask one of the girls; one must have some.” Avoka asked some of the other girls who were standing in a group, “Does anyone have tampons? I have to teach the yoga class now and the uniform has these white trousers.” Anita immediately had shot back, “No, I don’t use them.” Another girl said, “Well, I have some; wait at the pool bar. I’ll bring them over to you.” Ten minutes passed, still no one showed up and certainly not that girl Carola. Avoka returned to her room in the staff house to get changed, choosing one of her black yoga pants which actually, was agreed with the headquarters in Switzerland that for the training she could wear her own training clothes. She takes a quick look in her suitcase and all her other bags and luckily, she finds one tampon in her laptop bag so she’ll be safe to the lunch break. But so far this had never been an issue, no matter where she had travelled in every country she had been, including North African countries, she could always buy tampons, especially in the holiday resorts’ little markets. Why they wouldn’t have them here was a riddle to her.

Ten o’clock and Avoka is ready to teach her first classes, one yoga followed by a Pilates, and the participants are very pleased. Some ask when the next classes start in the afternoon. Avoka is surprised most of the participants are quite sporty and are curious about activities. From previous resorts teaching, she often had found tourists who preferred the sun lounger all day.

At her lunch break, she takes the taxi to the supermarket and gets her sanitary stuff. In total, she pays twenty euro for that trip.

In the afternoon Avoka walks to the little resort shop. Surprisingly at the till what does she discover? Packs of tampons – o. b., of course – for about 4 euro.

In the evening, Peggy, the coordinator is standing next to Avoka, so she’s asking Peggy, “I went to the store here at the resort this afternoon. They sell all that stuff, and also o. b. Why did you say that they don’t have it here?”

Peggy, in a giggling voice and high like she had taken some pills, says, “I know but they are so expensive here.” Avoka says, “They are four euro; that’s not more than paying fifteen euro for a taxi and in total twenty for some old-fashioned sanitary shit, is it?” Peggy is starring in the air while giggling, “Yes, but he is a gangster.” Avoka says, “Responsibility just walked on by you winking, didn’t it?” This was a little too much stupidity for Avoka, and she was wondering how such a person could be a coordinator for an international, well-known holiday resort. If she had known this club was such a theatre she wouldn’t have agreed to this. She had known this club from twenty years ago when she had been here with her mum as tourists and actually liked it a lot. Usually, this club had a good reputation but the staff here now, and also, some of the guests seemed really just like freaks and presented nothing of sophisticated family holiday resorts.

On the second day of the evening program, the crew was asked to pick up the guests from the lobby to make them go to the disco, as the people had the tendency to prefer staying at the lobby bar rather than going to the disco night.  But to fill the disco was the job now and one Avoka was so pleased about, actually, so not.

Avoka did not want to make it an issue bigger than Vogue even though she did not think this should be part of her job, so she followed the crew. In the lobby, she chatted up one woman who had been to her yoga class in the morning. They started talking about where they came from and realized the woman, who was on holiday with her husband, lived in the same village where Avoka’s dad had an architecture office some years ago, before he had retired. The woman, Gabi, was working with a construction company that had worked with them on construction projects. She turned around toward her husband. “Hey, Peter come over!” Peter was standing with another couple and now walked over. The woman said to her husband, “This is the daughter of Mr Smith, the architect who we often worked for – remember the Waldorf project?” Avoka smiled, “Well, the public bidding submission for that project was done by me; I remember that well.” Peter turned toward Avoka. “So, you are Mr. Smith’s daughter!” Avoka agreed, “Yes, it’s a small world.”  Gabi started telling stories about Smith’s partner’s daughter Julia who had been at school with Gabi and who had always been very sporty and successful at school and Gabi had always admired her, or it sounded more like, some kind, of jealousy. Now she was telling that she and her husband also played tennis. Gabi suggested to her husband, “Oh, Peter, that’s really a funny story. Let’s go to the disco, that’s why Avoka and I came into the chat this evening.”

Peter called to the other couple, “Let’s go to the disco. Avoka is Mr Smith’s daughter – you know, from the architecture group in our city.” So, the two couples and Avoka make their way to the disco, a small club next to the pool bar. Some guys from the animation team are dancing and slowly the disco fills up with people. Avoka and Gabi start dancing. Some of the guests start clapping while Avoka is dancing and she gets another “I could kill you” look from Anita, the evening show girl, who now starts dancing like a freak, showing off all she has. Avoka goes back to her group and the clapping of the audience stops. She goes for a glass of water and whoops, she feels a clap on her butt. As she turns around Peter is smiling at her then going back to the other couple. Another song: Avoka dances to the Rhythm of Hot, Hot Summer and there comes the next clap and again the same guy, Peter. Avoka turns around and she sees Gabi, who has watched her husband’s action on Avoka’s butt, now standing there frowning. Avoka chooses to stand close to the wall so her butt is covered and no longer a target for those male hand moves. One more song is playing and the two couples leave.

The club manager Tommy is standing with the restaurant Chef Jake, whose wife is dancing on the dance floor and their two- year-old son is walking around in the club. They are in a discussion, now looking over to Avoka. Some of the guests come over to Avoka, wondering why a two-year old kid is in a club with loud music and smoking cigarettes. Avoka offers funny reasons and tries to bring the holiday guests to other thoughts and now asks to excuse herself, suggesting, “Best, I will ask Jake the cook himself.” She walks over to the cook, who immediately turns to Avoka. “Avoka, I heard you want to serve a fitness plate at lunch time. I can organize everything for you.” Avoka is not really impressed, but smiles. “Sure.” Avoka understands the purpose of a fitness plate served by the yoga teacher but why does this have to happen on her lunch break without any replacement for these hours? Avoka says goodbye. “Yes Jake, I think a Caesar salad or something like that. I will talk to the coordinator for available hours during Easter time. She had planned a special, but sure, a fitness salad is a great idea.”

Avoka leaves the club walking, along the pool and back to the staff house. She’s simply happy for that day to be over.

Chapter II

Messages from Hunt

Seven o’clock in the morning and Avoka hears the pinging of her phone: “A good morning coffee cup from Hunt.” She smiles and sends a message back. “What a lovely thing to start the day” and sends a song, Good Morning, Good Morning, with a remake video of a traditional 50s couple. Hunt replies with “love it” and a big kiss picture…

Get the book here

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