AK., a friend from work and a kind of an older brother always looking over me here, promised he would take me out on the last day of Ramadan –or as people say here, « Ramzan »- to witness the everlasting night of shopping, celebrations and the numerous muslim men and women in the streets. So there we were, in Sunday evening, waiting for the Adhan in the outskirts of a bazaar near the mosque. It was a magnificent night.
In short, we’ve been around SHIVAJI NAGARE and the BAZAAR and COMMERCIAL streets there. Indeed, it was a crazy evening of smells and clothes. Families out shopping for Eid’s dresses, people buying tifa and ingredients for the sheer kurma of the Eid, fruits bowls, grilled meat and cooked goods and bakery for the fasters who’ll be breaking their fast in the streets and the crowd, mostly muslim women wearing their black dresses or muslim men with their white hats.
I noticed the women were energetically speaking and bargaining. They were in colourful shops with children, shopping for colourful clothes and smelly incense. The same women were seated in local little restaurants eating, either with friends and family. They may be wearing black and their faces may be usually hidden, but there were wrinkles in the corner of their eyes, the fruits bowls they shared with their children in front of the stall along with the rest of the crowd were slowly eaten. No feeling of uneasiness or discomfort when around men or vendors. They simply are women wearing something and doing something. They’re humans.
Wherever I thought I saw Arabic, it was actually Urdu : according to AK, all muslims of India know Urdu. Therefore they can read Arabic, but they don’t understand the words. They know sourates, ahadith and duaa but they don’t understand the meaning. I was urged several times to learn Urdu : some tell me it’s a beautiful language, others it’s a strong one. But then again, I wanted to learn Kannada, I find it quite compulsory to know Hindi and JJ told me Tamil is a wonderful language and the oldest one among Indian languages, older even than Sanskrit.
I’ve walked with AK. for more than 5 hours within the crowd, looking for a traditional dress, food items, flip-flops… I came to buy a kurtis and salwar with Moroccan colors. Basically, it was the choice of AK. who did the bargaining for me as well. The clothing is comfortable and the pants are crazy. No wonder the store owner told me to pick any dress and that any dress would fit me.
AK. was truly patient with that grumpy self of mine that shows up whenever I go shopping for clothes. It’s a thing that I don’t like to do at all and ends up frustrating everyone at some point. In fact, I end up also buying clothes that the people who came with me just don’t like at all. All and all, it’s like dragging a basketball fan to soccer practice everyday when he doesn’t even stand a conversation about soccer.
But AK. managed: he steadily took me from shop to shop, showed me models, told me about prices and bargained for me while the only positive attitude I showed was the fact I still hung out around him while he was performing all this for me.
I didn’t take that much of pictures though I have borrowed a powerful camera. I’m trying but the photography nerve is still flabby within me. Plus, I often find myself focused on getting as much of the experience as I can, watching, hearing and smelling as much as I can dissect and wearing AK. off with questions.
Within the process, I however don’t think that much of Bangalore or India. My mind drifts to other parts of the world, to similarities with Morocco, to other traditions or expressions present in China or The golfe countries. While Bangalore fuels my mind’s activity, the ideas resulting are international, and often I find myself talking about other countries when AK. tells me about his. I think it’s quite frustrating specially when you’re a dude that wants to share everything about his country with a foreign human that has been out of her kingdom for the first time.
But once again, the dude just handles it fine. I promise I’ll make his journey in Morrocco un-for-get-ta-ble.
Tomorrow is the Eid celebration, or as they call it here, the Ramzan festival. I was invited to my tutor’s house to celebrate it with his family. Since he’s a muslim and he’s Indian, he’s quite aware what kind of atmosphere lingers in the air of such day. And I who thought I’d spend my first Eid abroad in my room or working, got a special leave from work and will spend it with another family.
I guess my childhood friend was kind of right.
« No moumin spends the Eid alone. It just never happens »
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