Last night was Hanane’s sister’s engagement party to Khalil (his new Muslim name) the Belgian man she met online a few weeks ago.
Khalil is a big jolly man. He decided to tie the knot in Morocco before bringing his bride back to his home country.
I was glad that it was his engagement party and not mine this time. Frankly, the parties are a bit on the tedious side to begin with and then when you are the fiances, it is really bad because you are expected to sit in about the same spot for four hours or so. Khalil, unlike me, bought the special engagement clothes and again unlike me, he sat faithfully by Fatima’s side for nearly the entire night. I, on the other hand, danced and ate and drank tea while the henna was put on Hanane. I’ve no idea what a Moroccan man would be doing.
Anyway, last night I was free to come and go, dance, wander away, and do whatever I wanted. I had thought to make a video but having a video camera there was too much for everyone and they all wanted to take a turn with it and frankly, after trying to explain that I wanted to make a video, choose my shots, conserve my meager 75 minutes of tape, etc 4 times, I gave up and handed over the camera. Lots of footage from a full distance, lots of bad framing, and, well, we will see what can be done with it.
Let me set the scene. Throughout the day all the aunts and women friends of the bride come to the house, they bring cookies and sweets. They put them all on trays. They wear their nice jalabas. Men are noticably absent though there are some boys around. This seems to be a women’s party, from what I can tell. The only men were me, Khalil, Mohammad (Hanane’s brother), his friend Amin, the girl’s dad, and a family friend who is a taxi driver named Muneer Tayaba, his last name translates as airplane. Then there were a few teenage boys from the neighborhood, and some of the boy children of the women guests.
Mohammad set up his hi-fi and six speakers and turned the music up to full volume. Some of the speakers were blown and there was plenty of distortion, but why make the music sound good when you can make it loud enough to blow out your eardrums?
Most of the day, the women just sat in the salon and looked at each other. I had planned to go hiking with Yassine but since the engagement party was scheduled for 5 pm and it wasn’t too certain what time hiking would end, I really couldn’t, though I should have. He told me they wandered into a Berber wedding…
In any event, for hours the guests look at each other and some of the women chattter away. Then Hanane and Zahira and the neighbor girls start to make their hair up, put on make-up, and dress in their fanciest dresses. Through the night Hanane wore 3 different dresses, Zahira wore at least 3, probably 5, and as for the rest, I didn’t keep track.
As night finally arrived, everyone moved into the Salon, Fatima arrived in a taxi looking like a princess. And then the whole process of eating dates, drinking milk, exchanging rings, and more. And lots of dancing.
This woman has 7 kids. for the women, I think these sorts of parties are the most enjoyable thing in their lives. The men, well, they seem like they could really care less…
I danced a lot. It was fun though my energy level is still pretty low because I am still sick. During the day, I bought a camera for Hanane and watching her take pictures was fun too. I should have brought a dozen digital cameras from the states since they are nearly twice the price here…we found her a five megapixel for about $150, and it is pink which is a bonus.
Hanane is the girl I will marry if we can ever get the right paperwork.
And I am the man she will marry if the paperwork gods have mercy on us.
After the ceremonials, the rings, and then more dancing, cookies are brought out (this time they were brought out on trays and each guest was offered the tray by various girls. I am certain this is a result of Hanane and my engagement where her aunts loaded up their handbags with expensive pastries before leaving.
Mohammad and his wife Sameera are expecting a baby in about two weeks…the little guy behind them belongs to a different guest.
Finally, as the night wore down, I had too much and snuck away to lie down. Of course, the music was still pretty loud.