Monday, November 22, 2010

Random Story Time

When I was in Morocco, we had a tour guide called Mizouri Abdul. "Like the American state?" my aunt asked. "Yes," he replied. He tried to pronounce her name, but couldn't, and said, "I call you Mississippi!"

He was an incredibly funny man, and the first thing he taught us was how to say "UN-BE-LIE-VABLE!" in his very specific, overexcited way. (He also taught us how to say Shukran.) He also had the habit of stopping with a grandiose wave of his arm to indicate some sight with a proclamation, "wherever Mizouri stop, is a beautiful picture to take!"

One day on the bus my aunt called "Mizouri!" He barely turned around to response, "Yes, Mississippi!"

He regaled us with stories of his wedding night and was very frank about his love life, told us about the hard work his monarch did for the country, was very firm in his opinion that Saddam was a hero, and since he had to take care of us, he had to mutter his prayers even as he led us through Casablanca. In Old Fez, he said, "don't go far away, because if you get lost-" he pointed to the sky "-you might end up on the moon," because Old Fez is kind of a maze to stupid tourists like ourselves (and amazing).

Anyway, there wasn't a point to this post - I was just thinking about him tonight. Morocco made a huge impact on me; memories of it were a factor in taking Arabic in uni. I did not have a completely good time in Morocco - it was singularly one of the worst holidays I've ever taken with my mother, who was displeased with my choice of an undergrad English degree in Canada and had no qualms about shaming me in front of the other tourists, and my aunt, who decided to take my mother's side against me (despite having had the same fight with her own mother, a generation ago).

But for all that, memories of Morocco still remain a balm. I want to go back someday.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Metaphor For the Left

In a lot of discussions in school, there're a lot of questions which basically have the theme of "Why can't the Left unite the way the Right has?" There're plenty of answers, from my outsider's perspective: the Right groups unite because they're willing to put aside certain concerns, while the Left values these concerns. The Right doesn't care about people being thrown under the bus; the Left is comprised of a large base of people who keep getting thrown under the bus.

The most infuriating answer I see is the one that places blame on identity politics and the divisiveness that comes about as a result of disagreement of tactics and the like. There's this Kumbaya "why can't we just get along" hand-wringing nonsense. So I've been having some severe disagreements with classmates. But after that we can get along just fine.

Here's my metaphor: we live in different houses. Each house has its own rules and household culture. Maybe I like my house neat and you don't mind sloppiness. This doesn't mean we have to fight over our respective ways of handling our houses. It's perfectly okay for us to live in our own houses. We shouldn't be fighting over this, because there're people who are trying to tear down our houses. And when we argue about how to handle our own houses, we're just making their job easier.

The thing is that we're dealing with people who aren't just living in bigger houses, but can hire people to take care of those houses while they're busy sabotaging our houses. They live in gated communities which are safer because they have the means to do so.

So, it's perfectly fine to critique one another's style of running our houses because maybe the dialog will be useful. But we need to learn how to trust each other in running our own houses, and work together in preventing our houses from being torn down. We don't need to be living under the same roof to get stuff done together. We're not all the same. Stop yelling at me about how it's not important for me to spend my time cleaning my house and there are better things I could be doing. 

This metaphor is a work in progress.