Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Precursor to the Apocolypse

I was having a bad day. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. A few times. The calls to prayer, the guy who bangs the drum before the call to prayer for s'hur (the pre-dawn meal), my mosquito bites from our frolic and Frisbee in the Hilton Forest on Friday and the need to pee all had woken me up at some interval during the night. Needless to say, my phone alarm sounded more like a lullaby than a call to greet the day. Then, when I got to AmidEast I realized that I had forgotten to do my homework for Fusha. I scrambled to throw it together but couldn't finish in time for class, so I had to admit to my (adorable) Ustatha, Touria, that I had forgotten. ("Meshi Mushkila, Ghadan!" "No problem, tomorrow!" Still.) After Darija class, I spent an hour trying to do a homework that had been due last week but made very little progress, mostly because Al-Kitaab is stupid and I had no one to do the homework with because they were all in a class I don't take. Then I ate my lunch at 11 and was hungry again by 1 when Lisa and I went to the gym. Which was hard. Our musculation was super intense today and I had forgotten a few key times regarding the shower I took after our workout.

But things began to look up. We went back to AmidEast, got some work, and sat for a couple hours in Bert's (the French-owned coffee joint -- open during Ramadan!) reading about Islamic feminist thought. Then we went to the Toledanos. And wow, did my day change. Theme of the night: Good things come to those who wait.

David Toledano is the "head" of the Jewish community in Rabat. That is to say, he is the most well-connected Jew in Rabat. We were put in touch with him by AmidEast -- Alhumdulilah.

The Toldedanos house is gorgeous. Lisette Toledano, a scintillating, sparkling woman, picked us up from a grocery store (after we had been sitting waiting for her there for a 1/2 an hour when she was approximately 10 feet away the whole time) and took us to their, well, mansion. We walked in and were stunned. The house they live in now took 4 years to build, and the dining room is the most gorgeous elaborately tiled and chiseled work of private art I've ever seen. They have a pool and a piano. And empty bedrooms. All of which they offered us -- anytime. I think we may take a swim on Friday. Anyway, they laid out a spread of "genuine" - vegetarian (!) - Moroccan f'tour. We had Harira, the typical break-fast soup made with tomatoes, lentils, egg whites, and noodles. On the side were dried walnuts, figs, and dates (traditionally the fast is broken with three of these, as the Prophet himself did thusly). We then dove (with extreme politeness) into the hard-boiled egg, and typical flat fried bread and pancakes we routinely see sold in bulk in the souk, that we spread with a glorious honey-butter combo, as well as soft cheese on small rolls. I hadn't eaten anything since 11am except for a glass of orange juice at Bert's. But everything would have been sumptuous even if I hadn't added my hunger to the meal's many spices. Also included in the spread was shabakia...and a little cookie whose name I can't remember, but both of which are typical f'tour items. Shabakia is a pastry of layered philo dough fried and then soaked in eucalyptus honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds. And this other cookie - she explained the whole process to me (I was fascinated) - is made with the same philo dough as its crust, but inside its just crushed, peeled almonds and sugar smushed together and roasted, then rolled into triangles, fried, and then, of course, dunked in honey. Stay away, ye Diabetes. Oh and there was (GOOD) coffee and (FRESH) orange juice to go with dinner. After dinner we all went to the living room and - ah! - they let me play the piano (a Yamaha baby grand)! while showing Lisa (and me when I was done with the piano) the 4 albums from the wedding of their eldest son. We both now have memorized the entire genealogy of the Toledano clan. We know about the daughter in Chicago, and the son who just broke up with his girlfriend in France, the uncles, aunts, friends from Canada, Israel, and the Lebanese embassy. We had a ball. Then they drove us back home in his Audi. All the way home. Like to-the-door-inside-the-bab home. Contentment.

Now its raining again. Love it. I'll go to bed soon...I didn't go back to AmidEast after the Toledanos so I don't have my homework. Ma lish (whatever). It'll be fine. Goodnight all. Ramadan's almost over. Song of the day: "Hit the Road, Jack" by Ray Charles. I played it on the piano and David hummed along and clapped afterwards.

PS: We woke up this morning to the sounds of the apocalypse. Crashing thunder and blinding lightening and torrential rain. In our search for a cab on the way to school I put my laptop under my jacket, and needed to wade through the river that was Ave. Hassan II. There were at least 6 inches of water to soak my green low tops. The cab took us to the wrong place and we had to explain to him that, actually, our destination was on the other side of town. He took us. Sweet guy. The apocalypse has begun.

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