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Tag: Humanity

3

Worrying Times in the Shantytown

Shantytown surrounding Dar KhalifaThese are worrying times in the shantytown within which we live. Just as the big nasty apartment building mushroomed up without any warning in the bowels of the bidonville behind us, there’s been almost no official word about what’s going on with regard to breaking down the homes.

I’ve heard it said that the people who bought apartments in the expensive building behind paid the first slice of their cash on nothing more than an artist’s impression. The second tranche is payable now as I understand it, now that the concrete super-structure is complete.

The problem for the developers is that no one that’s paid a big chunk of cold hard cash is going to slide any more their way until they can drive in and have a look at the work done so far. And those people aren’t going to pay a single dirham more until there’s a nice plush road, as there is on the plans.

Meanwhile, the larger problem with many of the shacks is that they lie in the path of the road. I have heard it said, too, that 32 families were paid off last year. But they didn’t move… of course they didn’t, because in Morocco anyone with any cash is immediately cajoled into lending it to extended family and friends.

The first houses to have been knocked down were mostly bashed down with sledge hammers… the work of men from the building site. Needless to say, there are many glum looks and plenty of bad feeling. But, as anyone reading this can I am sure imagine, a handful of impoverished people in a shantytown have little hope when pitched against what is one of the Kingdom’s most powerful building contractors.

Two of our guardians live in the bidonville, and our maid. Thankfully, they live just out of the path of the road and so, hopefully, will be saved a little longer.

I’ve resisted taking pictures while walking through because this is a sensitive time. And the last thing I’d want if my house was being knocked down was people taking snaps of it all.

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March 20, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

Effective

Nasrudin was throwing handfuls of bread crumbs around his house and waving a huge pink flag all about. His neighbour looked out of his window and asked:

   ‘Why are you doing that, Nasrudin?’
   The Mulla replied: ‘I’m keeping the tigers away!’
   ‘But there are no tigers around here.’
   ‘It’s effective, isn’t it?!’


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March 19, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

Questions

‘Baba, why do you always answer a question with another question?’

‘Do I?’ Nasrudin replied.
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March 18, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

The Greatest Fool

The King asked Nasrudin to go and find the most stupid man in the world to come to court and be jester. The Mulla set off and travelled for days, weeks and months. Finally, he returned to the throne room where the King called to him.

‘Have you found the most stupid man in the world to be my jester?’ asked the monarch.
‘Yes, indeed I have, Your Majesty, but alas he is too busy searching for fools to take the job.’


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March 17, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

Creeping Up On Himself

Bedar, the watchman, caught Nasrudin prising open the window of his own bedroom from the outside, in the depths of the night.

‘What are you doing, Mulla?’ he asked. ‘Are you locked out?’
‘Hush!’ snapped Nasrudin. ‘They say that I walk in my sleep and so I’m trying to surprise myself and find out!’


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March 16, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

Only One Thing Wrong With it

Walking with a disciple one day, Mulla Nasrudin saw for the first time in his life a beautiful lakeland scene.

‘What a delight!’ he exclaimed. ‘But if only…’
‘If only what, Master?’
‘If only they had not put water on it.’


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March 15, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

Light the Candle

Nasrudin was sitting, talking with a friend as dusk fell.

‘Light a candle,’ the man said, ‘because it is dark now. There is one just by your left side.’
How can I tell my left from my right in the dark, you fool?’ as the Mulla.


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March 14, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

The Unsuspected Element

Two men were quarrelling outside Nasrudin’s window at dead of night. Nasrudin got up, wrapped his only blanket around himself, and ran out to try and stop the noise.

When he tried to reason with the drunks, one snatched his blanket and both ran away.
‘What were they arguing about?’ asked his wife when they went in.
‘It must have been the blanket. When they got that, the fight broke up.’


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March 13, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

Nasrudin

A very good way of understanding a culture is through its folklore and the stories people tell. Rather in the same way that language contains clues to the way people of a certain place think, folklore does as well. It’s a kind of treasury of fragments, linked to everyone who has ever lived in the society. An excellent way of understanding how the Oriental world thinks, is by reading — or listening to — the tales. And there is perhaps no collection better than the teaching stories of Mulla Nasrudin. He’s found across the East, from Casablanca to Kabul, and can even be seen in Islamic China. He’s known in Greece as well, and in Albania, Kosovo, Sicily and in Andalucian Spain. In Afghanistan and Iran he’s known as Nasrudin, while in Morocco, Turkey and elsewhere he’s simply ‘Joha’. Whatever the name he goes by is insignificant, for Nasrudin is a towering giant of human folklore. My father wrote four books on the whacky and wonderful episodes of his life. Over the next few days I’m going to present some here. If you have the time, read the story once, and then a second time, and allow it to turn around your mind. You’ll find that, given the chance, it’ll take on a life of its own.



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March 12, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

Proverbs

Proverbs and sayings are very common in the Arab world, as they are in the West. Since living here in Morocco, I’ve noticed that there are dozens of proverbs which are found in different forms in both Occident and Orient, and many more that are directly translated. This may suggest a transmission from East to West and vice versa, or it may just be coincidence.


Here are some examples (the Arabic proverb is in capitals, the European one in lower case):


BIRDS ALIGHT AMONG THEIR LIKE
Birds of a feather flock together

HE MADE A DOME FROM A SEED
Making a mountain out of a molehill

HIS LUCK SPLITS A STONE
He has the Devil’s luck

A DOG’S TAIL IS CROOKED EVEN IF HE STRUCK BY A BLACKSMITH’S HAMMER
A leopard can’t change its spots

THE CAMEL CAN’T SEE HIS OWN HUMP
The pot calls the kettle black

TWO WATER MELONS CAN’T BE CARRIED IN A SINGLE HAND
Don’t try the impossible

HE WHO GROWS WITH A HABIT GREYS WITH IT
Old habits die hard

CLEANLINESS IS AKIN TO FAITH
Cleanliness is next to Godliness


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