On Ramadaan Day 1

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Well the results are in and Ramadaan started last night, which makes today the first day of fasting.

I remember remarking to my room mate, that hooray… we are over the mid program bump!  We are now at week 7 meaning that there are just four more weeks left… then she made a good point, “Yes, but they’re Ramadaan weeks!” ha, ha…

When you live with a host family and are here to learn Arabic, and your host family is kind of bootleg, Ramadaan presents many a problem for you.  First of all, if you’re not fasting, you will end up fasting de facto, even before Ramadaan, breakfast with this family was a joke, I would spend a good part of the day hungry any way, because I just don’t want another helping of the leftover bread from last night’s dinner. Not after everyone has put their hands all over it, breaken pieces off it, and discarded it.  Even when the bread is fresh-ish, hthere is still the problem of it being bread. Yes, Moroccans tend to eat bread for breakfast and every other meal a lot, but there are so many pastries, so many ways you can make it interesting and tasty.  Sometimes I want to tell my host mom, why do you even worry to get up and ‘prepare breakfas?” I can get the nutella and one triangle of cheese out of the fridge myself.  and yes, that’s all there is breakfast in our house.  If there is some fruit that’s about to rot, she will make some juice, but that’s a once every two weeks thing, and we haven’t had fruit for a while… 😦  and you can forget about tea, or coffee (which are also staples of the MOroccan breakfast), and while I don’t drink milk every time it’s put on the table for breakfast, offered my room mate gets some, only to find out that it’s spoiled!… who says milk does a body good. Lunch on the few days that we have and dinner are very hit or miss, there might be one acceptable meal the entire week, as was the case last week.  Needless to say, my host family IMO is skimping too much on the meals.

I can only imagine the garbage she will put out now that she is fasting!  If before she put out bread that was so stale, you couldn’t chew it, what’s in order for Ramadaan?  Moldy bread!… ha, ha…

At any rate, living with this host family, now, during Ramadaan also presents issues when it comes to being to escape them and my room which feels like a boiler room in this heat.  Is there ac?  No, not in my room.  But there is one in the living room.  Unfortunately they only turn it on when they think we are fast asleep and won’t notice the flat screen tv blazing and the voices of their chit-chat as they enjoy the cool breeze! Ha, ha… yes I heartily dislike my host family.

Actually I despise the host family system, it’s just innately unfair … Let’s face it, these families are all in it for the money, not the cross-cultural experience. While some are great at being great hosts anyway, the cheap-lazy ones like mine (and I know what I mean when I say lazy, my host mom is house wife, but somehow her house is never really clean, there are spots and things that I have seen since I’ve been here, dust on counters that never go away etc.—-and don’t get me started about toilet paper, she always acts aloof when it’s finished, it takes like a whole week or two for them to put more in the bathroom, which incidentally has only been cleaned once since I’ve been here 😦  or the downright despicable ones like the one that one of friends has (the woman goes out to eat with her kids and leaves a bowl of soup for the two students that she is hosting to enjoy… even my host family doesn’t do that.. ha, ha)…If we were really free loading guests I would understand. But we’re not, we are tenants who pay a good amount of money well over a hundred dollars  a week per person. And for what?  to get things stolen, to have sub-par not really nutritious food, and to bake in sweltering heat.  Host families I declare again, are for the birds!

But I can’t get away.  On a normal day in any other month, I could just get dressed and go sit in an air-conditioned café all day long.  But now, nothing, and I mean nothing is open in the morning.  It’s too early to gauge when they might be, but my gut tells me that food establishments won’t open till late afternoon!

So I am stuck here with them!

Honestly if they were good for language practice then I would try to make due, but I tried that and failed during my first few weeks here.  They are not used to hosting student’s whose Arabic is as good as mine.  My host mom, closet Berber woman is a little better, but she mixes Egyptian and Syrian Arabic in with Moroccan when I talk to her, plus she doesn’t really have much to say.  She is after all the type of woman who watches the same   evening news clip as everyone else and then turns to her husband and asks him to explain what is going on..  His explanation, is hit or miss. He too it seems, depends more on the pictures than what is being said.  Case in point, a few weeks ago there was a clip about a protest in Spain.  It specifically said that while most of the other protests in Spain were about the economic crisis, this one was to show concern about the humanitarian crises around the world.  What does host dad do?  He turns to us and says in that stupid voice that people use for kindergartners or people you think are slow “Spain!”  I give him the “no ish Sherlock” look, and he proceeds on anyway.  “They are protesting the economic problems over there.”

Wow host dad, major fail.  What’s worse is that he uses a broken, super simple Arabic that I can’t take as anything else but an insult to my intelligence.  We’ve been here for four months, you see us everyday, it’s clear from our body language, and the times when laugh or make comments that we understand a lot, (more than you apparently).  But he just keeps doing the same thing.  Yesterday a news clip about some Moroccan woman winning a Quran recitation contest in Malaysia came on.  Malaysia was written in big words in Arabic on the bottom of the screen.  You know what Einstein turns to me and says, “hey gazelle, Malaysia!”

Argh!

I wish I could teleport to somewhere else, this family is crazy.  But no, now I have to go to more family Iftars, where they will sit and talk about me in Arabic as if I don’t understand, and then turn and ask me in French if I understand Arabic… for the birds! Ha, ha.

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