Friday, June 28, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 8: On Moroccan Weddings!

So, the Moroccan wedding I attended last weekend . . .

Ben Smim! Beautiful, no?
The wedding took place in Ben Smim, a very, very poor village near Ifrane. (As you'll read below, Moroccan weddings traditionally begin around 9pm and end around 7am.) We visited a few houses there because they were all relatives of our host family, and we had to drink tea and eat paraatas (which Moroccans call "Milwi") in each of the houses! The houses were small, closed, no windows, tiny bathrooms and kitchens. I didn’t see any of the bedrooms, but there were curtains (no doors) to rooms and I imagined they were bedrooms. I felt like I could survive in them, since I’ve seen a LOT of poverty as a Pashtun from Swat; I lived in a neighborhood with a disturbing contrast between the poor and rich in Swat, with some of my neighbors having tiny houses with a tiny courtyard and no bedrooms but only some place with a roof, while others lived in ... well, let’s just say a little more luxuriously.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 7: The Trip to Ifrane!

So, as some of my readers might know from my Twitter and/or Facebook, I attended a Moroccan wedding in Ifrane, Morocco this weekend (the best wedding I've ever attended!). Well, it wasn't exactly in Ifrane, but somewhere near it. But on our way to the wedding, we stopped by Ifrane, which is considered The Switzerland of Africa. It truly is, folks, it truly is! It has these lush green plants and trees all over, beautiful waterfalls, and when it snows there in winter, it's even more stunning. (I saw pics from the locals.) Read below for the details of our trip to Ifrane, and wait a short while (maybe a day?) to read about Moroccan weddings and the town.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 6: When I Cried in Public ...

So, I had a terrible, terrible day some two days ago, and I ended up crying on the street. The response from Moroccans walking and driving by was ... sweet :) Here's what happened.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Introducing the Parruney: The Pashtun Woman’s Body, Pashtun Men, and Harassment

Many people erroneously believe that the parruney, a long veil traditionally worn by Pashtun women that covers the face as well as the entire body, can keep a woman from being harassed or otherwise molested. This is untrue because men continue to gawk at women, whistle at them, follow them, and even attempt to touch them despite what the women wear. In fact, the purpose of the parruney is far from that of protecting the woman: it is there solely to protect the honor of the men of the woman’s family as well as to ensure that the female is never identified by the public. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 5: General Thoughts on Morocco - the Good and the Bad

Just some general thoughts on my life in Morocco:

In case you haven’t heard from Twitter, I love it here :) There are very few things I am having a hard time tolerating, and it’s mostly gender-related stuff. Tell you about that in a minute. For now, other stuff!

My host family’s really, really nice. They’re giving a great impression of Moroccans, and I’m falling more and more in love with Moroccans every day because of my family’s generosity, kindness, and just overall attitude towards me and my roommate. They make us feel completely at home and remind us over and over that this is our home and that we can make here whatever we want, do whatever we want, etc. They’re open-minded, not judgmental (basically, they’re accepting of whatever of my religious views that they’ve heard so far #wink. That’s a huge deal, if you know me even a little, hah!). I don’t (like to) cover my hair all the time, and they haven’t pressured me in any way at all or told me that it’s an obligation or anything like that.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 4: Eating Snails

So, last week, host momma H., American roommate L., host sister N., and I went out to take a look around the city, window shopping and trying to remember where what is so that when we start our shopping, we'd know where to go. We saw lots of cool stuff and people, and all except me did something cool to: they ate snails. 

Note: In some parts of the Muslim world and in certain schools of Islamic law (e.g., Hanafi) snails are considered haraam or forbidden to eat, so if you're the type of Muslim who likes to declare everything haraam, continue reading at your own risk. Otherwise, please view on, folks!

It's a common thing here to eat snails, which I didn't know about so I was shocked (I know - I need to travel more often), but it wasn't anything new for my roommie who has eaten snails before in the U.S., too. 3-year-old N. (my little host sister) loooooves snails, too :D

Also, snails are very healthy for you. For example, they "provide a hefty dose of protein, little carbohydrate and some fat. Snails also serve as an excellent source of iron and other essential minerals, such as potassium and phosphorus." Google "how are snails healthy?" or click here for more reasons.

But when I was asked to try it, I was like noooo. I really couldn't! I've never done it before, and I hate snails in general so I was like, na, I can't do it. But they had me try the snail soup, which, too, is very health for you, and me being me took only one sip and the entire week was then tasting and smelling snails in anything I was eating. So never doing that again. And to think I kept seeing cars of snails-sellers everywhere I went after that...

Now on to some photos!

P.S. Other Morocco Journals

Part 1: Introduction: Arriving in Morocco
2: A Day at a Women-Only Hammam (Public Bath)
3: The Classes / Daily Schedule
5: General Thoughts on Morocco: The Good and the Bad
6: When I Cried in Public

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 3: The Classes

So,  some of you must've figured out if not heard from me directly that I'm in Morocco for studying Arabic. People be like, "Moroccan Arabic is so different from the rest, how can you study Arabic there?" Silly you, spoken Arabic is different all over (my favorite is the Shami dialect, which I've carried with me all the way to Morocco, too, and some people think that's my native dialect. YAYY!! :D Progress so far! Well, yes, there's quite a difference between spoken Arabic anywhere (darijah) and formal Arabic, (Fus'ha, or Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)). You can't go to an Arabic-speaking country knowing only formal Arabic and thinking that people will actually understand. Only those who are educated or have learned fus'ha will understand. In Jordan, if people would understand what we were saying, they'd nod and then teach us how to say that phrase or word or sentence in dialect so that people can actually understand what we want to say. Here, I got lucky that my host family knows fus'ha--and they even speak it with me :D Love it!

So, here's how my day in Morocco is like:

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Morocco Journal - 2: A Day at a Women-Only Hammaam, or Public Bath

Today, Saturday, June 8th 2013, I went to the hammam, a “public bath,” that’s for women only (there are men-only ones, too, but, needless to say, I haven’t been to those and don’t plan to, hah). They’ve been popular in the Greek, Turkish, and Arab cultures throughout history. I went to one in Jordan back in 2011, and that was a really, really good experience! It was more expensive, more sophisticated, much cleaner—the one I went to today wasn’t like that, but that’s because we didn’t go to the expensive one.  If I go to any hamaam in Morocco in the future, it’ll be to the more expensive ones. (P.S. I’ll be spelling this word inconsistently but it all means the same thing: hammam, hamaam, hamam. K?)

As in the Jordan hamaam, some of the women in this one were completely naked, others weren’t. There were females of all ages; the youngest one must have been around 2 years old, the oldest at least in her 70s. There were no males other than a little toddler who looked under 2 years old.

Lemme give you some little background on the hamaams.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Morocco Journey - Journal 1: Arriving in Morocco

Dear everyone,
I'm writing this from Morocco, where I have so far (in merely the last 3 days that I've been here) met some of the most wonderful, most kindest people on earth. Really, I don't think I can exaggerate their generosity and hospitality. But before I give the many examples of this, let's go back to how I got here and what all has happened so far.

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