Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Special Moment in Fes

A Special Moment in Fes

I had the most incredible evening! My teacher mentor, Nezha, whom I met at the middle school in the Medina came to the hotel to visit with Sherri and they both insisted that I accompanied them on her errands. I did not really want to go because I was so tired and my feet and ankles were swollen and aching from visiting the Medina two days in a row. However, after stating that she walks everywhere and walks quickly, and then observing the look on my face, she quickly suggested that we could take a taxi to get to the business center. I didn’t want her to spend extra money so I relented and said I would accompany them if she walked. So, I ran how to my room and took an ibuprofen to help with the swelling and the aching. We walked and chatted on our way to the business center. It was like I was with a childhood friend. I quickly forgot about my aching and swollen feet. We talked about how women can be prejudice against other women who are voluptuous like me. She said I was light on my feet after witnessing me dancing to the music and singing of the Ganoa musician at the Medina.(I guess the idiom” light on your feet” transcends countries, languages, and cultures.) She said her older brother had a girlfriend who was from Senegal and how conscious the girlfriend felt because people always stared at her because of her size. She said her brother was quite passionate about her and she loved her also because she had a pure heart. Her brother’s girlfriend returned to Senegal after completing her studies because she could no longer stay in the country. I told her I considered my robustness as a rite of passage, my journey through life and living of menarche, motherhood, and menopause. We both agreed that we like women who are comfortable in their own skin and who think for themselves. But, I wondered if Moroccan women are adopting Western style of thinking when it comes to body size because their women used to be robust, with wide girths, if the women’s clothings in the museum are any indication.

While Nezha conducted her business, Sherri and I relaxed in the air condition and I took some pictures of two anti smoking ads. One ad depicted a man being hung by a smoke made noose, the other showed the burned lungs of a smoker imprinted on a white T shirt. I wondered how people could smoke after seeing those ads.They are so graphic. These pictures will go to Miss Terri Young, the health coordinator at Crescent Heights.

After leaving the business center we strolled into a clothing, accessories store and looked at the purses, bags, necklaces and sandals. I realized that Moroccans like slippers / sandals and like to shop just like their American sisters. They are very fashion forward and have great taste in clothing. I saw large and small colorful dangling earrings, purses, bags, belts of various lengths and width, scarves in every size, shape and color. I felt like I was in a store in Los Angeles. The only difference were the many languages I heard being spoken simultaneously. I am completely taken by the Moroccans’ language dexterity. They switch from language to language with such fluidity. The store clerk was conducting business in French, Spanish, English and Arabic. It makes me envious. I thought about my children and my students and how they are growing up in a monolingual society. I feel like the world is passing them by. I told my oldest that he needs to learn to speak another language not because he will be studying business in University but because he needs to learn to communicate with his brothers and sisters around the globe, especially his brothers and sisters who look like him.

After walking out of the store, Nezha said that store was one of her favorites because they sell beautiful things and the prices were very affordable. She said she never impulse shopped. Whenever she sees something she likes she mulls it over for a few days before making the purchase. I told her that I was the same and often missed out on items that had stayed on my mind for weeks especially if the items were on sale. Well, we did not buy anything.

As we ambled to the doctor’s office- Nezha’s mom just returned home from the hospital- I looked at and admired every scarf that the women were wearing. Some scarves were simple and others were beautifully embellished and draped over their heads and necks. I notice the scarves were tied in many different styles and how sensual it made some of the women looked. Their eyes and faces were meticuously made up. I saw many women wearing bright colored lipsticks. I wondered what is the undertone? I am so enamored by the scarves. I will buy a few and learn how to tie them. I looked at the clothing and noticed that some of the women’s loose clothing showed the curves of their bodies. I wondered if all this clothing is not more tantalizing to the men. They have got be wondering “What it is like to hold that woman?” “What are her eyes saying?”

I also notice that the cafes were filled with men socializing as they drank tea and other beverages. The men greeted each other by kissing each cheek and held hands as they walked. Some even hugged as they walk down the streets.This is a beautiful sight, indeed. Men being free to hold each other. Can you imagine if we all adopted this behavior and display it to everyone outside our cultural, ethnical, and racial boundaries? There would be no prejudice, no genocide, no war because we would be too busy acknowledging our brothers and sisters. Witnessing these behaviors brought back to mind what my grandmother use to say- God did not give his only begotten son for people to be miserable and hurtful. On the other hand, I thought about the gays and lesbian population in a place where the men interact so closely with each other. How do you know when boundaries are being crossed? What is the social consequence? I also though about our African American boys in the United States and how their comraderie is shown through the intricate handshakes. I wonder also if the slaves who were brought to the Americas also held hands and if they did when did ithe behavior stop.

Yes, my afternoon wandering in Fes caused me to wonder a lot. Isn’t this the whole idea of spending time in Morocco? As I am writing this I realized that the thought had not occurred to me to take out my camera or video to record the sensations, sights and sounds. I was so totally immerse in the moment, culture and the experience. I felt at home. Thanks, Nezha Youssefi!

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