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Encounter

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Stupidity and Genius enter a coffee shop. Genius takes a moment to take in the different smells and noises, and to let all types of observable information sink in. Stupidity, on the other hand, jumps right into the middle of the coffee shop, winks at Halima, the waitress, and roars, “What up, biaaaaatch!” to everybody and to no one in particular at the same time.

Everybody in the coffee shop notices the frivolity of Stupidity without paying the slightest attention to Genius. Unobserved, Genius sits down and waits for Halima to notice him and take his order. In the meantime, Stupidity makes himself comfortable and yells at the guy behind the counter, “where’s my brew, dude?! Arrogance will be here at any moment, and I’d hate to leave with her before I get to enjoy my coffee.”

Two ladies enter. With a step ahead of her companion, the lady in flashy clothes throws a confused look at the place as if looking for someone in particular. Stupidity notices them. “Hey, hotties!” He screeches. “Oh, hey Stupidity! Thank God you’re still here. I was afraid you’d have already left.” She says at the top of her voice as she catwalks towards him. “Come on, Arrogance! You know you and I are meant for each other. I just can’t leave, or live, without you!” He points out. “Oh! I see Genius has taught you some of his stupid puns.” She remarks with a cringe. “Naaah, I just made that up. Genius and I haven’t really talked much lately. He’s over there, by the way.” “Argg! Gosh, I hate his guts! Can you believe he told me to move my car from the super market’s parking lot just because it had a sign of a disabled person? He said no one should park there except for disabled people. He behaved as if he owned the place! What a pain in the ass!” “Oh well, I guess we know him very well. He’ll never change. He thinks he’s smarter than everybody else, and that we owe him stuff. That’s why I could never befriend him. He doesn’t know to enjoy life! He’ll never be as cool as we are”

The other girl shrinks at the remark. Then, as if she needed to gather some courage, objects, “Ummm sorry, but I think he’s got a point.” Astonished, Stupidity looks at her then turns towards Arrogance, “I see you’ve got company. Who’s your friend?” He asks. “Oh, right! Please meet Common Sense. She’s an old friend from elementary school. I just bumped into her and I thought we could have a cup of coffee with you.” She answers as she motions to Halima to come. “Common Sense. Huh?! I like compound names. My favorite is ‘ass-hole!’ HAHA! HAHA! HAHA!” He continued his frantic laugh as he stood up and made his way through the tables and towards Genius. “Did you hear that, Genius? Did you hear my grand joke?”

Without taking his eyes off the morning paper, and with a tone close to how a bored dead man would sound, Genius answers, “Ah yeah, but technically ‘asshole’ is one word. And honestly, I haven’t known many people who have it as an OFFICIAL name.” And with a fainted voice adds, “But I can think of someone who deserves to have it.” “What was that?” Stupidity asks as he leans nearer. “Uh, nothing. I said have a great day, Stupidity!” Genius replies with a fake smile gently pushing Stupidity away and making space for himself to stand up. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to get going.” He adds with the same fake smile.

In his way out, Genius takes a second to throw a look at the two ladies and salutes them with a gesture. Common Sense smiles and waves back, while Arrogance turns her head away in neglect, and keeps herself busy running her hand over her silky hair and puffing her cigarette’s smoke regardless of the complaints of the people in the next table. Common Sense stands up and excuses herself, too. Feeling that Common Sense was not enjoying her company, Arrogance looks at her in disgust, puffs her cigarette towards her and Common Sense turns her face and motions with her hand as if to stop the smoke that is invading her space. “I think you should quit.” She finally manages to suggest with a smile. “I think you should shut the fuck up!” Arrogance snarls. “You and Genius are the scum of society. Haven’t you realized how much trouble you have caused to everybody? Right people?” Everybody turns their faces away! Shocked, Common Sense finally takes a step away from Arrogance. She still bids her and Stupidity farewell in a hurry, and departs.

“I think she’s nice.” Stupidity declares. “Arrogance looks down at him with the same disgusted look she just offered Common Sense. “ I told you you were not supposed to think.” She answers in wrath. “Sorry dear, I just…” “You’re just too stupid to follow simple instructions, Stupidity!” She interrupts him. “Now hand me my bag and let’s follow them. I know they’ll go together, and we can’t allow them to stay together for long. They’ll definitely be up to something against us and we can’t allow it to happen.” She orders. “But I thought this was Nosiness’ business!” He protested. “CRACK!” Everyone in the coffee shop turns to the source of the sound. Stupidity holds his left cheek and moans in pain! “Why did you slap me, Arrogance?” He struggles to ask. “Because I wanted to, Stupidity. It’s not like you’d understand anywyas, so just deal with it!” She yelled and left.

Halima, with a grin as big as the door that saw Arrogance leave, comes with the addition to Stupidity. “Sir, my shift will end in a few minutes. Will you please pay me, now?” She asks without even trying to hide her amusement. “Oh, sure.” He grins back. “I like it when you smile at me.” He says. “And oh, nice boob job! Who’s your surgeon?” Halima rolls her eyes in frustration, turns away, raises her hands and announces; “Stupidity is alive and kicking, ladies and gentlemen!”

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For Kev and Rosie <3

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These guys rock! They might not have realized this, but they have been my idols for quite some time, now. I appreciate everything about them. I mean, where do I start? Their amazing bond? Their endless sacrifices for each other? Their belief in the power of love? Their defiance of all barriers possible?…Gosh, It’s all magical about them.

Oh, where are my manners! Please meet Rosana and Kevin. Rosana is an English teacher from Spain, and Kevin is a graphic guru from England. What’s special about them? They’re my friends. That should suffice to make them special. But wait, that’s not everything! In addition to having the exclusive privilege of having access to my close circle of friends, Rosana and Kevin are two wonderful souls that complete each other. In fact, I often think of them as the fish and fries of human relationships!

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I’ve known Rosana (aka Rosa or Rosie) for almost 7 years, now. I was still a college student when we first met, and she’s been my rock since then. Rosa and I have developed a great relationship based on honesty, mutual trust, total respect, and unconditional support. To be honest, I am the one who has benefited from this support system the most. The poor thing would always rush to rescue me whenever I put myself in stupid situations (which happens quite a lot!).

It’s true that sometimes we lose contact for periods that might extend to months, but each time we talk, the flow of communication seems smooth and natural. I think that’s a sign of true friendship. What is remarkable about her, though, is that she’s always there when it comes to saving my a**! She always takes out from her time to comfort me and suggest workable ideas that might help me get over whatever mess I was in. She’s a very good listener, too. I could talk to her for hours and she would stay there and listen supportively. I never felt that she was listening because she had to, but simply because she cared. And believe me, that’s the most satisfying feeling one can hope to get from another friend.

Enters Kevin. Kevin is a great guy with a great -wait for it- sense of HUMOR. YES, an English guy who can actually tell decent jokes! So, when Rosie told me about this “handsome English guy” for the first time, I liked him immediately! I don’t know why, but I felt like he was the real deal, and he didn’t let me down. Kev and Rosie have been together for more than three years now, and they’ve finally decided to take things to the next level. So yes, the big moment is here! Kev liked it and is putting a ring on it!

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Dear Kev and Rosie, although attending your wedding doesn’t seem to be possible now (I wanted to be the best man, though! 😦 ), I know that we’ll meet sooner than we think. Until then, remember to keep being the awesome couple you’ve been, and never forget the reasons that made you fall for each other, because that’s what will keep you moving on (that and me, of course! 😀 ).

Why Is Banning “Much Loved” The Best Thing Ayouch Could Have Hoped For?

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Amidst heated debate, the ministry of communication has decided to stand on the side of the critics of “Much Loved” and ban the screening of the movie in Moroccan theaters. Ayouch said he was “shocked” to receive the news, but he should probably be happy as the ministry did him a huge favor.

Apparently, universally acknowledged truths exceed a man’s want for a wife to a want for anything that is banned. Human history is rich in examples that illustrate this claim. For instance, the prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. during the 1920’s did the country more harm than good. On the other hand, legalizing Marijuana in the Netherlands has been proved to be a healthier choice.

Therefore, banning the screening of “Much Loved” is the most powerful and effective advertising campaign Ayouch could have dreamt of. This ban will certainly generate unprecedented interest in the movie and widen the circle of debate to larger scales. It will also make people even more excited to watch “the movie that scared the ministry!” especially that the ban isn’t based on solid grounds and many people think it was just a response to the public outroar.

Furthermore, it is inevitable that people will find ways to watch the movie just the way they managed to watch banned movies and read censored books before. The highly-wired world we live in, and the accessibility to different media outlets make it really challenging for governments to conceal information, unless North Korea is a role model that we’re looking up to!

Worrying when you put that way, right? But what’s even more worrying is that the ministry decided to ban a movie that they had allowed to be made and filmed in Morocco and with a (mostly) Moroccan team! So, to think that all of these points have gone unnoticed by the ministry leaves much room for interpretation… and WORRY!

Thus, due to this “banertisement,” Ayouch has now become the most famous movie director in Morocco. The ministry has now given him something to brag about and present himself in the image of the liberating hero of Moroccan cinema. In fact, many Moroccans with libertarian mindsets think of him as a hero who should be celebrated. To these people’s joy, Ayouch’s film was invited to premiere at the acclaimed Cannes festival in France. This event didn’t go unnoticed as many of the movie’s supporters interpreted it as a triumph of art and freedom of speech over oppression.

So, Ayouch has now become a renowned director at an international level thanks to a) his gift as a director, and b) the ministry’s gift of baning his movie.

In short, if the ministry is afraid the movie would give a bad image about Moroccans, the ban isn’t going to help alter that image, either. So, instead of thinking of Morocco as a country with many prostitutes, foreigners would now think of Morocco as an oppressive country that doesn’t tolerate freedom of speech and arts. sounds better now? Naah, it’s a lost war!

Ranting About the Rants About “Much Loved”

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Even though I have been trying to keep my mouth shut on the topic, there was a time when I felt a need to have my say on Nabil Ayouch’s “Much Loved.” So, although I know that this post will probably get me more hatred and cynicism than respect and empathy, I just can’t resist the urge to voice my opinion on this matter.

If there’s anything my father taught me as a kid that I could never forget, it was the fact that we can’t judge a book by its cover. Now, what can be said about books can also be transferred to other areas where many people find it comforting to spit out their judgments before they even make informed opinions about those matters. Ask any university professor about the usefulness of making judgments and coming up with conclusions without carrying out any type of research, and you’d probably be asked to review your primary school materials!

With this in mind, I just can’t figure out why so many people are angry because of “Much Loved.” I find it very appalling that people from different walks of life are jumping to conclusions about a movie they haven’t even watched! Making judgments based on leaked out excerpts is the same as reading a few passages from a book and coming up with conclusions and judgments about the book and its writer. Just unbelievable!

In general terms, bashers of Nabil Ayouch’s movie base their opinions on many assumptions, the most recurrent of which are as follows:

  • The movie gives a bad image of Moroccan women
  • The movie encourages sex tourism
  • Nabil Ayouch is supporting and is supported by a foreigner agenda
  • The movie is a threat to our identity and religion
  • We should keep our problems to ourselves
  • etc.

None of these reasons are valid. If we’d find it odd that a movie that addresses education isn’t filmed within the confinements of educational settings, then why would we find it insulting that a movie about prostitution is filmed in casinos and whorehouses? The problem here is that most Moroccans are used to discourses where “la langue de bois” reigns. Thus, most people were shocked to see a film using the language that many Moroccans use on a daily basis. Oh, the irony!

Furthermore, what most critics fail to understand is that the movie is not representative of EVERY single Moroccan woman. The movie deals with prostitution and sex tourism, and it has, thus, limited itself to that particular context. However, people seem to forget that a movie, just like a novel, should be seen under the light of its context.

Taking these points into account, I don’t seem to agree with people who claim that the movie encourages sex tourism. It’s actually quite the opposite. “Much Loved” could be an eye-opener and a call for action so that we put an end to this phenomenon. Sweeping our problems under the rug and turning a blind eye doesn’t exempt us from our role in addressing these controversial issues.

As for those who claim that the movie represents a real threat to our religion and identity, I can’t but think that their identities and religious beliefs are weak already. If a movie succeeds to alter one’s beliefs, then the affected person didn’t really have any belief in the first place. Therefore, one has to be either ignorant or hypocritical to pretend that this can be regarded as an argument against the movie. Moreover, times change and it’s difficult for some people to embrace that change. For instance, in the recent past, men couldn’t accept the idea of women working outside. They saw that as a challenge to their status and presented arguments such as “a woman’s place is inside her house,” while others went to greater lengths by claiming that working women is the sign of the nearness of Doomsday! I think it’s all about NOVELTY. New things scare us, but shouldn’t we have learned from the past?

Finally, playing the “foreigner agenda” card has always bugged me. Most of us try to shift responsibility by putting the blame on other people and circumstances. Many of us justify failures by external factors that might, or might, not be responsible for those failures. On the other hand, very few of us face their problems and try to work them out the way they should.

To cut it short, prostitution, like many other social ills, is rampant in our country, and being in denial won’t do us any good because for a problem to be fixed, it, first, needs to be diagnosed and analyzed. If one has cancer but is in denial, the cancer doesn’t fade away, it just gets stronger and stronger.

PS: I know many will say that the cancer that needs to be eradicated is Ayouch and his likes. (Me included? I hope not! 🙂 )

Why The Teaching Profession Is Not For Low Achievers in Morocco.

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“Controversial” is the least I can say about the article my colleague Mr. Omar Bihmidine published on the website of Levant TV two days ago. The article in question claims that the teaching profession in Morocco is reserved for low achievers only, while higher achievers choose different paths such as medicine and engineering.

While some of the observations Mr. Bihmidine makes hold true, his analysis of why people choose to become teachers remains fallacious and very superficial. I think that the problem with the article is that Mr. Bihmidine is confused between what makes some university graduates opt for the teaching profession, and the shocking deplorable situation of the profession in Morocco. As a matter of fact, the article talks about many instances of injustice that teachers face in Morocco. However, linking that to academic achievement remains a vague claim that needs to be supported by real and empirical evidence. For instance, it is untrue to say that high achievers are aware that “their achievements, diligence, distinguishing grades, excellence, mastery of languages and production will never be credited, recognized, acclaimed and admitted inside the four walls of the classroom,” for the reasons discussed below.

I disagree with Mr. Bihmidine’s article for five reasons. First, most university students who opt for teaching do not realize how demanding the profession is before they actually start teaching. Second, most of these students come from underprivileged poor families, so they need to get a job as soon as possible to loosen the financial grip suffocating their families, and in many cases, to be able to financially support their families. Third, not everybody can afford to go to medical school or to study engineering in Morocco. Even if they are high achievers, they also need to be well-off to attend medical school. Fourth, the worrying lack of guidance and orientation in our schools contributes to the status quo. For example, in my own case, I never knew I had other options after I got my Baccalaureate, but to go to college. I didn’t know there were other institutes where one could study media or tourism, etc. Fifth, only students with the best marks (high achievers) can become teachers in Morocco. The selection process is very rigorous and meticulous. In fact, there are countless exams and teaching practicums that one has to undertake before he or she can become a teacher.

Another issue that seems to have escaped Mr. Bihmidine’s analysis is that of the different streams available at our universities. Mr. Bihmidine seems to make no distinction between literary and scientific streams. How is a student with a major in history supposed to become a doctor? And how is a student with a degree in Arabic supposed to become an engineer? Teaching is probably the only available path to employment in Morocco for certain degrees such as Arabic, history, Islamic Studies, etc.

In addition, Mr. Bihmidine seems to have disregarded the fact that there actually are people who go for teaching because they LOVE it, and because they feel that they make a difference in the lives of our offspring. The reasons are not always related to money, prestige, or grades!

Of course, other people can come up with other reasons, but the crux of the matter is that the erroneous view provided in Mr. Bihmidine’s article doesn’t reflect the reality of things. To put it simply, teachers have always been the elite of our universities, and they continue to be so.

Notes on “The Fault In Our Stars”

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I hate hospitals, the smell of medicine, and everything that has to do with the themes of sickness and death. When I realized that “The Fault In Our Stars” was a book about two teenagers with terminal cancer, I was like “Oh, cr*p! What did I get myself into?” But I kept going on because I’d promised to read the book.

As I advanced in the reading, however, I found myself indulged in John Green’s sharp, crispy, witty and funny writing style. I particularly loved the bits of the book that are garmented with a touch of spicy sarcasm and enchanting metaphor. I also enjoyed the language of the book. The coinage of words such as “uncancery,” “Breakfastization” and “unlove” is typical of contemporary pieces, and it witnesses the fact that Green could be anything but a vocabulary Nazi.

The story of Hazel and Augustus is heartrending, though. Both teenagers suffer from cancer; a curse that many people would make use of to fish for sympathy and attention. However, these cancer-struck kids do teach us valuable lessons on life, death and love. From where I see it, their struggle is not meant to tell us how cancer patients go about their daily lives, but to show that they are not less normal than any other person. Did Green make an allusion to Orwell’s “Animal Farm?”. Maybe. However, this probably explains the abundance of instances of ups and downs in Gus’s and Hazel’s lives.

The main message in the book, among others, is twofold; (a) “the world is not a wish-granting factory,” and (b) “some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” I thought it was a so powerful message to tell the readers that not all of their wishes shall come true, but Green was bold enough to do it, and I think the outcome has been very positive. Furthermore, the idea of  relativity is heavily influencing. Green is transmitting the idea that small things can mean a lot if, and only if, they come from deep within the heart.

Among other attributes, it’s the blend of delicate and shocking storytelling that makes the reader wonder if the book is destined to make you laugh, cry, sympathize, think, or feel. For me, it was a bit of everything. So, if that’s how you define a good book, then “The Fault In Our Stars” is a must-read.

A dramatization of the novel is to be expected very soon.