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09/28/2010

Mazal Tov!


  • As I am known to do very often, I strolled into a self-made trap during lunch today. A few Moroccan women, as well as my American friends and I were devouring some djaj at the post-wedding lunch, when one of the ladies asked if I was Moroccan. Now this is one of the more common conversations I manage to have with people in this country. I’ll reiterate it in English here.

    “Are you Moroccan?”

    “No, I am American.”

    “Oh, you look very Moroccan.”

    “Oh thank you. I am Indian.”

    “Ohh, you dance Indian? Shah Rukh Khan!”

    “Yes…exactly.”

    Yes, my darija is currently at the level of a toddler.

    Well this time, she progressed to ask me if I wanted to marry a Moroccan. Using this as an opportunity to implement my skills, I said I preferred a tall, dark, and handsome Moroccan man. Eventually, everyone in the family was informed of my preferences, and took it upon themselves to find me a man. In fact, my friend Jordan told the ladies that I go to the hammam solely to interact with the ladies whose sons are eligible bachelors. Mumkin! The only condition is that I must have my wedding in Morocco.

    That is not a problem, because the wedding this weekend was a ridiculous experience, and it wasn’t even the real thing. Because the bride’s parents are going to Mecca forhajj, they wanted their daughter to be married so that her groom can visit her without too many rumors being spread. Therefore, in the eyes of God, and in the eyes of the Moroccan law, Afaf and Salah were officially married yesterday.

    I woke up on Saturday morning to wafts of couscous and chicken, and lamb creeping into my room from the kitchen. Outside in the courtyard, the men in the family unloaded chairs, tables, and all sorts of bronze decoration pieces. The entire house was being overhauled and transformed into a grandiose party room.

    Guests began to creep in around 5 PM, and the bride arrived first to the vivacious shrills of all the women in the house. An hour later, everybody went outside to welcome the groom and his family who were walking up the block bearing gifts and playing intense rhythms and beats on musical instruments.  To be honest, it was an Indian wedding in a different tongue.

    It was interesting to note that the music fluctuated from religious songs that praised Allah and the Prophet (PBUH) to traditional Moroccan rhythms. That didn’t’ stop anybody from dancing, though. Actually, the beginning half of the night, imams in Fez hats belted out some fantastic songs. After dinner, the house band played somechaabi, which are Moroccan folk tunes based on rhythms with everybody clapping and dancing along. It’s an exhausting affair, but luckily, my friends and I were able to sneak an hour long power nap (That’s the advantage in having a wedding in your own home). This was one of the smartest decisions we’ve made because the party went on all night.

    I cannot forget the food. We were first served milk with candied dates after the contracts were signed. About three hours later, our table was served a huge dish of couscous with tender lamb topped with caramelized onions and toasted peanuts.  My friends and I scarfed down the food thinking it was the main meal. It turns out it was only the appetizer and bread and four whole chickens followed. Soon after, were presented with a huge platter of fruits. After a bit of dancing, we were offered tea and  halwa  to finish off the night.

    The party lasted throughout the night, and I do not even remember going to bed but I woke up in a bed with two of my friends from the program still in my clothes and makeup. Mind you, there was no open bar at this wedding, nor was anyone hungover. To my American friends, this was a miracle.

    The post-wedding celebrations are even more fun than the wedding itself. One of the cousins just took the guitar out to the living room, so I’m going to join everybody in ripping some killer beats.

    Ma Salaama.


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