© Anushka Bose. All rights reserved.*
Photos all taken at Villa Yara in Georgetown, Washington D.C.
This past Wednesday, September 27th, I turned 27 years old. To celebrate, some friends took me out for dinner, and my desired spot was a beautiful Lebanese restaurant called Villa Yara in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Upon entering, I immediately felt as though I was transported back to the Middle East. The restaurant owner, an Egyptian lady, greeted me with so much kindness and love, with hugs and multiple habibtis. Upon hearing my name, she asked me where I was from, and asked if I knew the Egyptian singer named ‘Anoushka.’ I told her I was familiar with her, and she impressed me by saying that she’s also aware of an Indian singer named ‘ Anushka ‘ (referring to Anoushka Shankar here).
The aroma of the restaurant was all too nostalgic. I loved its interior design as well. As we walked through the restaurant to our table, I saw the waiters carrying foods that are all familiar with my memory. Hummus, shish-taouk, lamb chops, baba-ganoush, kibbeh, etc.
For food, my friends and I ordered Makanek (lamb sausage); Sujuc Jibne (blended cheese flat-bread with meat sausage; and, Jwaneh (lemon charcoaled chicken wings) for the table. Along with multiple rounds of Lebanese bread and olives! For dessert, we enjoyed decaf coffee and a delicious cappuccino cake that we brought in from another bakery. The spelling of my name on the cake was incorrect, but it added character and laughter to the evening. I also had the pleasure of having an opera-style happy birthday sung to me by one of the waiters in the restaurant. It was a full-house that evening so I had an audience for all the clapping afterwards!
Although I am separated by distance with my family and closest friends, dinner in the Lebanese restaurant delivered a semblance of nostalgic joy and aliveness that bridged some of the longing for all things home and comfort. I’m glad I got to experience my golden birthday dinner (when you turn the age that corresponds to your birthday date…so 27 on the 27th!) at Villa Yara. If you are ever in D.C and craving some Lebanese/middle-eastern food, definitely pay the spot a visit!
Anushka is a current PhD Student at American University in Washington, D.C. She spent her youth growing up in Dhahran, where she attended Dhahran Elementary, Dhahran Middle School, and Dhahran Academy High School. She loves learning about new cultures and is fascinated by the diversity that brings us all together, especially the expatriate community, where the only thing that is common is that we are all different, in culture, language, and the perspectives we hold. One day she hopes to publish a book on the Third Culture Kid experience. Dhahran continues to hold a big place in her heart.
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