Monday, February 27, 2006


So, I don't know if I've mentioned, we are currently in the year 1427. Or thereabouts. I'm not really sure. Here in Morocco, though, they like to put the hijra dates on things, and not just on historical manuscripts. They put it on the newspapers (well, they also put the milaadi, Gregorian, date on those), on the plaster of buildings, and on calendars.

The manuscripts are what really get me, though.

Since I'm working on a limited period of time (1609 to 1666 milaadi--a literal translation of milaadi would be "birthy"), I thought one day that I would simply do the math to figure out the limit dates, since until then I'd been guesstimating every time.

So I looked up an equation online, and went through a couple of pieces of notebook paper, and came up with a different number _every_ time. And when I finally ended up with numbers that looked reasonable (and not, say, a hundred and fifty years apart even though I'm looking at a half-century time period and even though the hijra year is shorter, it's not a third), I looked up the dates, and both of the numbers that I'd figured were completely wrong.

I'd like to think that the equation was wrong.

Have I mentioned that I haven't taken math since high school?

Anyhow, the other day when I was at the library of the mudiriyyat al-wathaa'iq al-malakiyya (the directorship of royal archives), they asked me what years I was looking for, and I told them in milaadi, and they looked it up in a big concordance, and the fact that they have a thick binder dedicated to figuring this out made me much happier.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Hey, I'm married.

So, as of a couple of months ago, I changed my Friendster profile from "single" to "married." This despite the fact that a) I have no foreseeable reasonable marriage prospects of which I am aware (impromptu proposals from the shabbaab on the streets of Rabat do not count. See "reasonable" above), and b) should my currently-single soulmate happen to be checking Friendster for a five foot tall girl from New Jersey who likes bicycles but is currently located somewhere between Spain and Morocco who also happens to be single, I will not turn up in said soulmate's search results. Alas.

It's a risk I'm willing to take, because I was getting way too many alternately amusing/creepy messages. Somewhere in the text of my actual profile, I do note that I'm not actually married. (I have gotten more than one shocked/congratulatory email from people in the groups of friends with whom I haven't had too much recent contact, but have remedied those mis-perceptions of my actual, as opposed to Friendsteral, marital status.)

Even though my status on Friendster is now "married," that doesn't prevent me from receiving messages such as this one (which I just received today). Line breaks, capitalization, and punctuation as in original:

Woman is like the sun, sometimes we love it and
sometimes we hate it but we can't live without it.
man is like the river sometimes calm and sometimes
wild but he is needed to keep the life going.
Some people are nice and some not, but you will
never know till you talk with them. I hope i will
be lucky and chat with you and who knows we might
find each other nice.
I know that we are far away from each other but
with a true feelings, Opened minds, big kind and
true wells we could be together by mind and who
knows we might meet in person one day.
I hope that you will reply to that message even if
you are not interested
[his email address was here, but I have done him the favor of removing it.]

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Casablanca International Book Fair 2006!

For the past week and a half, they've had an international book fair on in Casa. Today was the last day, so I woke up fairly early and took the train. I met up with Camilo, the only Fulbrighter who lives in Casa (who is also a Fulbright-Hays and who is also Colombian), and we went over to the ginormous quonset-hut-like structure in which the thing was held. We spent about six hours there!

I got a bunch of books, so now I'm really hoping that the parents Valencia will come and visit at some point near the end of my stay here, so that they can help me carry them home.

In case you're interested, this is what I got:
Roger Coindreau's Les Corsaires de Salé
Abdelhadi Tazi's Histoire Diplomatique du Maroc (abridged one-volume edition; the full set is ten volumes!)
Al-ahbas al-islamiyya fil-mamlaka al-maghribiyya (Islamic Land Trusts in the Kingdom of Morocco)
Fihris al-makhtuutat al-'arabiyya wa-amazighiyya (Catalog of Arabic and Amazight Manuscripts in the Roi Abdul Aziz b. S'aud library)
Al-Manaahil: Al-'Imaara fil-maghrib qadimaan (The Ancient Moroccan Building issue of the Manaahil journal)
Casablanca: Genèse et évolution (a bibliography)
Mohamed Naciri and André Raymond's (eds, really) Sciences Sociales et Phénomènes Urbains dans le Monde Arabe
A French-Arabic Lexique d'Urbanisme (I have an architectural dictionary in English, one in Spanish, and one in Arabic; this is a nice addition to the architecture/urbanism reference collection.--I also have the Dictionary Islamic Architecture, an illustrated glossary of architectural terms, and Francis Ching's illustrated dictionary of building terms. )

Finally, I got the 2005 Maghreb Index (the Roi Abdul Aziz b. S'aud library catalog, on cd), and the Bibliographie des Publications Marocaines, 2004 (the S'audi library threw that one in because I was already buying four books from them. They also didn't charge me for the Maghreb Index, which is good, since I think it takes an Arabic Windows machine to run.)

Was this the most boring blog entry ever?

Seriously though, I'm psyched about the books. Unlike in Spain, the libraries here close in the early afternoon, so it's nice to have books to look at at home.

Friday, February 17, 2006

A Wedding and a Funeral

Last night, there was all of this noise in the street. I imagined that it had to be a wedding, so I went outside (armed with a camera) and caught a couple of blocks of the procession to a house in the neighborhood. There was lots of singing. I stayed around until the part where the bride sits in a howdah (or is it a palanquin when the thing is carried by people and not by animals? Is it an issue of scale, or of means of conveyance?) and is danced around with a bit.

Today, when I was on my way to my weekly dose of couscous, there was what seemed to be a parade of men at the top of Mohammed el-Khaamis (the street off of which I live.) The cemetery is up that way; it was a funeral. I didn't want to walk up by all of the mourners, so I took the roads within the medina for a couple of blocks, but when I exited the medina they were still all proceeding (I walked faster than they did, I think. Also, there were very many of them.) Traffic was blocked for a couple of blocks as they walked into the cemetery entrance.

Friday, February 10, 2006

In the Streets

Today there were huge protests against the cartoons printed in Denmark, and then reprinted ina bunch of other places in Europe. Wisely (I think), I rode my bike to drop off a research clearance request at the Ministry of Culture, and then checked mail at the Fulbright office. The New Yorker arrived! And my Learn Chinese Now cd! And tracing paper! (My mom sent me tracing paper because here they sell it by the sheet, and it's a dirham and a half a sheet, which is outrageous [there are nine dirhams in a dollar]! This is trace, here! Not vellum!)

Since the protests were at Bab el-Had, the main downtown bus stop, all buses were rerouted, and the street by our end of the medina was ridiculously crowded. There were truckloads of Moroccan-flag-waving young men being brought in for the protests. From, um, the countryside? I don't know where from, but at least one of the incoming trucks had a banner with the name of a nationalist movement on it.

Some streets were uncommonly empty (mostly because they were blocked off, I think), and there were dozens and dozens of people waiting at each bus stop. I was really glad to be riding, and to get to beat the traffic. I even got to ride a heavenly few hundred meters in the middle of one the main streets going into downtown--it was closed to traffic because of the protests. And it's usually the street where I get stuck behind a filth-spewing bus.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Over at Dar Bneena

We had a Moroccan cooking class today. We made couscous, cookies, and tea.