Time and MoneyRabat, Fall 2010
It’s 6:45pm, and I’m about to sit down for breakfast with my host family and roommate. Eating has never felt so good. My roommate hands me a simple chocolate cracker, and, I kid you not, it is probably the best thing I have ever tasted. Fasting for Ramadan was a decision we made on a whim, and at least for me, I didn’t really do it for a concrete reason.
For those who don’t know, fasting during Ramadan entails of not eating food or drinking water during the day. When the sun sets and the call to prayer sounds out across the city, everyone breaks the fast. Families eat again at 10:00pm, usually a meat dish called tagine and bread, then a small snack at 3:00am. Everyone goes to sleep, then wakes up and starts it all over again. This goes on for about a month (depending on the phases of the moon).
Without food, and without drink, it is difficult to concentrate throughout the day, though that might just be because 4 hours of Colloquial Moroccan Arabic is not necessarily the easiest class to pay attention in. Even with the ten minute break and the promise of an hour of free time, I definitely regress back to my junior high days of throwing bits of paper at people, staring down the clock, & clicking my pen incessantly. My Arabic notebook has less nouns and verbs and more doodles than it should.
Even though I have thus far only participated in 4 days of Ramadan, I already feel that I have a more realistic understanding for the practice and for Moroccan culture. It’s easy to read about Ramadan, and not that hard to describe, but to experience implicitly and to describe explicitly are two very different things. One is easier, and it is definitely not the latter. In the mornings I wake up grumpy and irritated, by the middle of class my concentration is that of a two year old, and when lunchtime rolls around I’ve become antisocial and generally apathetic.
So, needless to say, eating with the family is an event that I anticipate with great pleasure. Though we have only been here since September 2, my days are beginning to acquire a pleasing sort of rhythm. Going to school with Rupalee in the morning, coming home for lunch & dinner, and hanging out with the girls in our host family; it all sounds very simple, but the slower pace is nice. There’s that word, nice, that seems to have such a negative connotation. Nice, I mean it in the way that it was meant to be used: regular but pleasant. Here, I have the ability to be perfectly content. At home, I’m always thinking about dashing to the next place: what am I doing, why am I doing it, what should I really be doing to get where I want to be. Here, I am here to explore without a set purpose. I’m just here to live, to talk to people, and to learn a language. As one of my Arabic teachers told us, “In America, you have money. In Morocco, we have time”.[gallery link="file"]
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