Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ramadan Diary ~ Just When You Thought It Couldn't Get More Crazy...

The tenth* day of Ramadan  was a day of great drama, high speed car rides in an attempt to find drugs, and a near death experience.  Join us once again as we bring you (thanks to Wikileaks) another leaked excerpt from the highly classified Ramadan Diary
*Maybe the eleventh? Things kind of blur after a few days fasting 

It had started well, with cooler weather and everyone I ran into being in a happy mood. This was good, because it is just too easy to get a little grumpy when fasting. 

Then everything changed. A friend, Rachida, was cleaning a courtyard fountain when she was stung twice by a yellow paper wasp. These things are no joke. Forget about bee stings and ant bites - this little bugger packs a powerful dose of toxins that are its defence mechanism against animals and people cleaning fountains.

The culprit at the scene of the incident

At first it seemed just mildly painful, but within minutes Rachida's hand had swollen up and a rash of hives had started to cover her entire body. Then, to make things worse, her tongue went numb, curled at a strange angle and started to swell alarmingly. She began to feel nauseous and was obviously extremely distressed.

While she hurried off to the local pharmacy, I went to an ATM to get cash for medicine. When I returned to the pharmacy I found it was closed and Rachida had vanished. Then nothing. No phone contact, no text message - nothing for an hour and a half.

During that time I cheered myself up by reading up on anaphylactic shock. It was not reassuring, particularly the part about people dying within ten minutes or so.

It starts as a sting and ends up like something from a horror movie

Meanwhile Rachida had jumped into a taxi and headed to one of the community hospitals. It was closed for the holidays or Ramadan or simply because it was Saturday.

Rachida caught a cab and raced home to get help, but, as she got out of the taxi she saw a friend who was a doctor. He took one look at her and then bundled her into his office and gave her two injections. "Take this," he said and handed her a prescription.  "You have anaphylactic shock. Find a pharmacy fast and forget about Ramadan. You must eat something and then take the medicine." He refused to accept any money for the injections that probably saved her life.

Rachida's brother joined her and, finding a taxi, they scoured Fez for a pharmacy that was open. Thankfully, the taxi driver realised how serious the situation was and drove at high speed, without stopping at traffic lights. Finally found a pharmacy open at Oued Fez. The taxi driver also refused to take any money.

Thankfully the story ended well, and what was so wonderful was the way everyone assisted without wanting money. The Ramadan spirit was alive and well, and so was Rachida. *

*Note to myself: buy an epi-pen

An epinephrine autoinjector is a medical device used to deliver a measured dose (or doses) of epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) using autoinjector technology, most frequently for the treatment of acute allergic reactions to avoid or treat the onset of anaphylactic shock. Trade names for this device include EpiPen, Twinject, Adrenaclick, Anapen, Jext, Allerject, and Auvi-Q. The EpiPen was originally derived from the ComboPen, a product developed for the military for treating exposure to nerve agents.

As we have previously noted, Ramadan is not only about fasting, prayer and purification and surviving wasp stings, it is also about television. And while people are grumbling about the local programmes being about as entertaining as watching grass grow, foreign television has suddenly erupted as a hot issue.

"The way they show Moroccan women, is an insult," fumes Mustapha. 'It used to be just those Gulf Arabs who portrayed our women like that, now it is the Saudi television."

We were waiting for the canon to fire to mark the end of the day's fast. We both check our watches and see that we have time to discuss it. "What's the problem?" I ask and add the fact that I don't watch television.

Mustapha shook his head. "Hsuma. Shame... just hsuma."
"The image of the Moroccan woman has been subject to one more popular media distortion. A soap opera, exclusively designed for broadcast in Ramadan in Saudi Arabia, entitled “Kalam A’nass” (people’s talk), joined the list of Gulf countries’ TV products that distort the image of Moroccan women." - Youssef Sourgo Morocco World News
According to critics, it was episode #6 of Kalam A’nass that truly got up people's noses. The episode was titled Al Khirfan (the sheep) and its depiction of Moroccan women was seen by most as downright shameful. The episode shows an ambitious young Saudi woman who sets up a call-centre business and hires Moroccan girls to work in it.

The Moroccan girls’ task in this episode was duping Saudi young men by seducing them and selling them illusory promises of love via phone calls in exchange for money - a practice known as “love trading.” Also in the same episode, a Moroccan woman is depicted as leading other girls within the call centre in their sordid endeavours, by instructing them on how to dupe “the sheep.”

Mustapha claims that Moroccan TV viewers are so incensed they have taken the drastic step of actually going back to watching the local 2M channel.  That'll teach those Saudis a lesson.

And while on the subject of gripes, our fellow diarist from Morocco World News, Erin MacDonald, has had a word or two to say about "obnoxious" foreign tourists....

I don’t believe that it’s necessary to become an expert on a different country before you decide to pay a visit. Actually, having a few surprises after you arrive, and learning new things about a country during your visit is what makes up half the fun of traveling. And indeed some of the mistakes you make will likely be a source of light hearted amusement for locals.

But, it is certainly necessary to learn a few basic things about the country that you plan to visit. You can likely do this by a quick google search and skimming through Wikipedia and a few other articles you will undoubtedly come across. It is also always prudent to consult your nation’s travel advisory.

And doing all of this should take you….a whopping 15-20 minutes. Maybe a half hour. Let’s face it, you can probably do that on your Iphone while waiting at the passport office or even while waiting to board your plane. Basically, I don’t think there’s any excuse for not making sure you know the basic facts about the country you are planning to visit. And even this small effort, will likely prevent you from making any disastrous mistakes once you arrive.

However, while in every country I have visited- I have seen tourists do some appalling things, which were not only rude but completely disrespectful of the country which tolerated their presence. I would like to assume that this is a result of ignorance, and not a total disregard for the culture they are visiting. I’m not totally sure. All I can say is that at times tourists can be obnoxious and disrespectful of their host country. As a foreigner in Morocco, and as somebody who loves traveling and plans to do much more of it in the future, this annoys me.

A few afternoons ago, I saw what was actually the worst example of obnoxious tourist’s behaviour that I have ever seen. A woman who I will assume is North American by her appearance (perhaps incorrectly) came out of a McDonald’s wearing clothes that would be considered tastelessly revealing even by North American standards and proceeded to walk down the street stuffing her face with ice cream.

Perhaps she was unaware it is Ramadan…although I think this is highly unlikely. This is what drove me stop walking and stare open mouthed at this woman as she walked by me. I was not the only person in the vicinity to do this.

As a Canadian, but also a North American (by North American here I mean Canada and the US) in Morocco, I have two reactions to this incident, and others like it. The first, is that I am completely humiliated by this behaviour by someone who shares my continent of origin and undoubtedly had access to the information that would inform her of her wrongdoings. This embarrasses me because there will certainly be people who observe this woman’s behaviour and view it as representative of all North Americans.

My second reaction to this is that I would like to sincerely apologise for the behaviour of many North Americans abroad who have given all of us a bad name. The vast majority of us enjoy access to education and internet. Those few unfortunate Canadians and Americans who do not have access to these things, are also without the means to travel, so they are not the ones making fools of themselves while abroad.

See all the Ramadan Diary excerpts - RAMADAN DIARY

Thanks to Morocco World News for Erin's observations on tourists during Ramadan. Erin MacDonald, is a Canadian MA candidate. She grew up in Halifax Nova Scotia where she earned an Honours degree in Religious Studies from St. Mary’s University. She is now earning an MA in Dispute Resolution from the University of Victoria, British Columbia. She is currently fulfilling the internship requirement of her MA degree, working at La Voix de la Femme Amazighe in Rabat Morocco.

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Gabe Monson said...

"Interesting comments from Erin McDonald.. yes it is a little alarming what we see around sometimes :) And I notice we rarely go up to another Westerner and tell them what we think, give them some 'tips' politely or more.. urgently. I have a suspicion if that was a Moroccan walking around half dressed with an icecream in the middle of Ramadan someone would say something VERY quickly :)"

Driss said...

Right Gabe! And those tourists who know it is Ramadan, why don't they wait a few more minutes for the end of the fast before eating... ten minutes before... and already eating... I don't understand their insensitivity.