Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Oddities: a Play in Six Acts

1. A brief ode to the Moroccan bathroom

Western or Traditional, there will never be toilet paper, and you, resourceful person that you are, will make do with tissues you find crumpled in the bottom of your backpack.  You gauge the possibility of one or the other by the amount of nose-wrinkling the person before you does.  Ah, look at that, a solid 10/10 noses wrinkled - Traditional, then.  You are not yet a master of the dance of the Traditional Hammam, but you know the basic steps, so you hike up your skirt, grasp your tissues firmly, and step gingerly over the lintel.  The ingenious flush system - a spigot protruding from the wall that washes the entire floor with water - gushes welcomingly at your entrance.  You make your way to the narrow foot pedestals in the middle of the porcelain "toilet" and edge back as far as you can.  There is no toilet paper, there is no flush, but there is a contingent of frantic flies.  Welcome to Morocco.

2. Names

I used to think that my name was simple, basic, universally easy to pronounce.  Vowel, consonant, vowel, consonant, vowel - nothing like the consonant-laden "Bridgette."  Every single sound in my name is even present in the Arabic Language.  In Spain I was "Elisa" and to my Language Partner here I am "Eliiza" - all minor variations on the same major tune.  Not until Friday night did I realize the truly difficult nature of my name, when, within the same house and the same family, I was addressed variously as "Elaiz," "Laiz," "Elise" and, my personal favorite, "Elizagh" - that last letter combination is pronounced like the French "r."

3. Cops

If of a late night, flicking absentmindedly through TV channels, you have never stumbled across the show Cops I congratulate you for ignorance.  It is not a show that particularly needs watching.  It is apparently, however, a popular concept, because where did Friday night find me except watching the Moroccan version with my host family.  In Darija, of course. 

4. Evolution

This should not, in hindsight, have been surprising, but I discovered this weekend the lack of Evolution education in the Moroccan school system - or at least in the schools in Meknes.  Twas a strange and wondrous feeling to have my host sister turn to me while watching some Animal Planet-type show and exclaim, "Oh!  Elaiz!  I heard once that some people think that humans used to be like monkeys!  Have you heard that?  Isn't that strange?  I think maybe they mean that humans used to live like that, without houses or electricity or anything, not that they actually used to be like that."  

5. Haystacks and Mosques

Moroccan farmers pile their hay bales into miniature barns complete with sloping roofs and the occasional gable.  These are found scattered all across the fields between Tangier and Meknes, between flocks of sheep and herds of cattle and the occasional Mosque built alongside the road, in the middle of a field, or abutting a seemingly random and isolated tannery.

6.  All that other stuff I didn't get to

My computer charger has finally given up the ghost so while I have plenty of pictures from this weekend's trip to Fes and Meknes I won't be able to upload them for a day or two until I manage to find a new one in Casa Barata.  Today is also the first day of Ramadan, so given I fully expect to be exhausted for the next couple of days, at least until my body acclimates, I probably won't be posting much in the way of anything.

رمضان كريم    

No comments:

Post a Comment