Morocco

For Kev and Rosie <3

Posted on Updated on

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!

223962_10151423990818146_1787873133_n

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!

922440_10151947571018146_672819713_o

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?

Posted on Updated on

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”

Posted on Updated on

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.

Posted on Updated on

“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”

Posted on Updated on

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.

My Very Informal Reaction to: “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Posted on Updated on

Elizabeth_Gilbert

A “neurotic freak” would be an honest description of Elizabeth Gilbert. If she happens to have any reservations about this description, she might want to reconsider some events in her memoir “Eat, Pray, Love.”

Don’t get me wrong. I really do see the good in Gilbert’s journey of self-discovery and reunion with the divine. Nevertheless, being a man of a considerable amount of common sense and logical thinking, I find it hard to be 100% compassionate with her.

It’s not the fact that she wants a divorce from the man she has vowed to love till the end of time that makes me angry. It’s actually the fact that she’s angry with him because the poor thing “didn’t see that coming!” She’s angry because he chose her as his ultimate dream. She’s angry because he didn’t want everything they struggled for to collapse in a glimpse, and without a prior notice. How inconsiderate of him, right?

Moreover, she feels like she needs a break from her life to start anew, and what’s better than a PREPAID vacation to Italy, India and Bali to do that? She goes on a “cleansing” journey by money from her boss who is expecting a report about the journey in return. Doesn’t this sound like BUSINESS to you? …It does to me! Therefore, I find the authenticity of Gilbert’s work to be highly questionable.

eat_pray_love

However, the book is not totally useless. I mean, if you’re bold enough to discard what’s been mentioned above as unimportant details, you can still enjoy the funny style, the imagery, the irony in Gilbert’s life, and you can even identify with her as she indulges in a bumpy search for everything.

Moreover, the book proposes a variety of scenery from different countries and cultures. Add that to Gilbert’s craft in storytelling, and you’ll end up traveling with her through the food paradise that is Italy, mystic India and exotic Bali.

If you’re into meditation, this book can be inspiring. Gilbert’s time in the Ashram in India, her maddening struggle with all the Mantras and Sanskrit, as well as the sleeping until the ungodly hour of dawn can be relatable in our daily lives.  Maybe not necessarily in that same order, or with those very same items, but it’s relatable, still.

So, if I am to give a final verdict, I’d just cut it short and say that if you enjoy shows like Sex and The City, then this book is for you.