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Rasta Gnawi
boston, ma Massachusetts USA
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Hammam ruminations
08:11:02 AM Wednesday Jan 18, 2006

I went to hammam bou sif in wajda on the eve of eid al ad'ha. It's a very old hammam that serves the 'quartiers populaires' of the city. Very nice place with a still intact dome spank in the middle of the very old town (across from the side entrance of the jouttya.) In fact, the place used to be a motel. When we were kids, we'd go there with 3emmi L'hbib and after the hammam closes, while we're getting dressed, we'd see these out of towners coming in to sleep on the benches for 1dh or so.

Anyway, I know the kyyaas there personally and I usually go with my friend Majid. We could spend hours in the hammam talking about this that and the other. Some time we stay till they close, if we agree to drive the kyyass home after he closes the hammam behind us. The kyyaas, Abdel Kader, is a very friendly guy, and very well educated. He had majored in philosophy and history. How he became a kyyaas is something he wouldn't talk about and doesn't like being asked about. It is very common in any of his tjbaad sessions to get a lecture on the 3abbasi dynasty, or the murabiteen, or the khawarej, or sometimes just a discussion about if we know someone to get him a job at the wajda ONYX (the garbage company.) He is a very genuine guy that wears his emotions on his face. If he's happy you'd know it, and if he's displeased you'd know it as well, but he is never mean.

This time we had a little incident. We got there at about 11:30pm. He told us he had one other guy to take care of and then he'd be with us. We waited for an hour or so. The hammam was full but he'd shown us the place where we'd sit. The two guys sitting there were at the end of their bathing, so we'd take their place. We stood by the door for another hour or so inside the hammam (steaming hot.) Not sure what had happened but he came to us again and said he had one other guy to take care of and he'd be with us. When our place was free, we walked there. Somone else jumped on the place. Abdel Qader came screaming those places were reserved for us, the other person was getting ugly, so we decided we'd wait again, not a problem. We were in the middle of a discussion of how the sunni-shiite problem had finally reached its true dimension in Iraq in 14 centuries; nothing more than a political quarrell over power. Anyway, it was the eve of 3eid, why get ugly. So we're waiting again, this time sitting by the door steps inside the steam room. Several spots freed up and filled up immediately. We were in and out of subjects and had forgotten about the hammam, until I started to pass out. We had been in the steam room from 11:30pm until 2:30am. We walked outside in the dressing room, got some water, rested for a bit. I guess I got a little dehydrated. At 3am, Abdel Qader came to call us in, the hammam was almost empty by now. We streched inside again for another 30 minutes. Abdel Qader worked his magic on our bones and skin. We cleaned up, and I was home at 4am. Everyone was asleep.

The alarm rings at 7am for salaat l3eid. I can barely get my eyes to open, but I hear my father voicing discontent about my oversleeping. I get up, put on the jellaba, make the subh prayers, and head to the mosq. The takbeers were loud and on low octaves; kind of sounded like a bhudist temple. Great, just what I needed to catch some shut-eye. I pulled the hood of the jellaba over my head, leaned on hte pillar, and dozed off until the mu'adhin called for the 3eid prayer. We pray, make du3aa, and I head home after wishing happy eid to people I knew in the mosq.

I got home at 9am. I ring the bell. My sister opens the door. What a surprise! the night before she said she was not going to make it from Paris. The siren goes off: 3eid is officially statrted. The bucher comes, my mother hands me the plastic cover to wear, and the butcher and I head to the courtyard where the sheep was waiting...

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3:05 pm    July 14, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
I feel like I've been away from Raioo for ages. That's remodeling. I'm flying out next saturday. What day is Antr arriving? Let's do a scsou dinner on Friday. We'll get the construction gang together and make some noise again in the neighbourhood. Did I tell you that our neighbour came to us the next day (after our 3laoui day.) I was a little nervous, thought she was going to say to keep it down. She loved the music and wanted to take that audio tape. She keeps asking when Hmed will play the guitar again.

I'll introduce you to AbdelKader when we meet in wejda.


10:10 am    July 14, 2007

Adnane Ben. message
I wrote that reply a while ago, I'm pretty sure I meant Antr from raioo, remember? this guy...
He's actually coming to visit Boston next week, and will be staying with me for a few days. You'll get to meet him

9:16 pm    July 13, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
Antr who? The poet?

9:13 am    January 23, 2006

Adnane Ben. message
The style of this little story is pretty now that I've read it again. It's like having two photos justaposed on top of each other, first is the social story, the Hammam and Keyass story, the second is the intellectual discussion of irak, islam etc. I think it's brilliant. maybe you can continue to write stuff like this where you invoke reminiscences of social and cultural things, intermixed with other subjects (politics, religion, econimics, technology). Now that I think of it, Antr uses a little similar style where he intermixed social/cultural things with sci-fi mostly..

that gives me also something to think about to write..


3:48 pm    January 20, 2006

hudhud message
adnane!! too funny!!
i think the ruins and deserted houses are supposed to have jnoun in them, esp at night b/c the jinns like darkness.. maybe that explains the "haunted house" feeling of some old empty places..

11:22 am    January 20, 2006

Adnane Ben. message
When I was young, people used to tell me that Jnoun live in Hammamm at night (after hours). That always scared the hell out of me.. It might still scare me to date! so have no clue how you folks stayed in a Hammam in the middle of the night. I bet there were hidden people around, with goat feet..

7:48 am    January 20, 2006

Rasta Gnawi message
Yes. Not sure what had happened to him. I know he had a son in high-school, always in the top 3 of his class, he tells me. Perhas he's been working in the hammam for so long the heat has wormed up his soul permanently. He is a really sweet guy. Always a pleasure seeing him.

1:27 pm    January 18, 2006

hudhud message
nice, i like your reflective style here..
the mystery behind abd elkader (shall we call him qadirou for short) is doubtless like the tale of so many other north africans who are highly educated but end up in strange career paths that we here in america would just be baffled at hearing..

Rasta Gnawi's notes (63)
Ramadan Mubarak..
Raioo versus Facebook..
Ramdan Mabrouk..
rantings on a cloudy day..
salma salma..
agricultural / energy policy..
Doucement :)..
Mebrouk Remdan..
ghir bessyas a moulay!..
ONB - anyone going to concert or has tickets?..
Friday or Saturday?..
douga douga..
Cartoon Memories..
mudhakkiratou rihlati ljanoub..
From Africa, with love..
great film..
spicy chocolate..
a treat for you..
Nice piece for your weekend activities..
Another attempt at writing. Will this language ever feel nat..
Eid Mebrouk..
Mebrouk Ramdan..
old fiction..
MS Mess..
their life... our life... their life.....
Islamic punk rock..
One Love..
free speech..
Hammam ruminations..
old paintings..
date deals..
name of the rose..
mostafa Akkad..
Paris riots..
Eid Mabrouk..
NYT lamb..
a pause from madness..
desert nights..
brain freeze..
organized tours..
passport on vacation..
good attire..
Hot day..
Econ - Biz - What's The Pulse..


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