Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I am getting to know the medina and discovering that being in the middle of it, which indeed I am, is actually really convenient. I’ve been out with various family members on a number of occasions and learned that our lane is actually just one other lane away from a fairly big thoroughfare, and another connecting street away from Blvd. Mohammed V, which extends throughout the medina.

So far this family is exactly what I hoped for. They take me everywhere – I’ve been along to observe an 18-year old girls’ night out,* a grown woman’s shopping trip, and an old woman’s trip to the traditional oven in town to bake cookies for ‘Eid.** I am learning a lot – there is so much to observe (yet so little time, as a result, to write it all down!).

Everyone is incredibly nice. The family clearly has a lot of fun together – there is a lot of laughing and loud voices. I hear them imitating people, and playing around with the sounds of their own language, repeating syllables, twisting them around, trying different accents – which is interesting to me, as someone who is here to get to know that language. These people are like a kaleidoscope, twisting and turning the language to bring all its difference facets into focus simultaneously. And they are close physically, something they are beginning to involve me in, which feels good – they stroke each other’s hair, adjust each other’s clothing, kiss each other. It’s like nesting, perhaps, and so it makes me feel at home. All this happens also between the male and female cousins, which is interesting, but I’ll write more about that later.

The only one I can’t really gauge is Manal. She does not exactly seem part of all this closeness, and she seems to have quite a temper. I get the impression that any little utterance can trigger anger in her – though maybe I’m wrong. Moroccans are loud in general, the entire family raises its voice constantly, and I don’t actually understand what she’s saying,*** but there’s something about her facial expression that makes me think she is actually angry. She doesn’t talk to me very much and sleeps a lot. I wonder if something is going on with her. I noticed the other day that she wears a ring on her left ring finger. Is there a love story here?

*This, apparently, involves strolling around, arms linked with a friend, window shopping, looking at shoes, stressing out over boyfriends and the latest SMS they sent (or didn’t…), simply HAVING to go over to where one’s boyfriend works to say hi and check up on him, and grabbing a snack. There is something universal about girl-culture…

**People have conventional ovens at home, but throughout the medina are little bakeries that have traditional ovens. They don’t sell their own baked goods; instead, Moroccans bring their own goodies over there to be baked, and pick them up when they’re done.

***Apart from a lot of “Hshouma!” which means something like ‘shameful’, or ‘shame on you’. It’s used a lot in Moroccan conversation – providing an interesting clue about the culture here.

No comments: