Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sense(lessness) & (In)sensibility: a Dilemma

... fast on the tracks of the heinous banning of Piglet in Turkey and the role that tolerance & possible free will plays in our lives, I offer this little anecdote:

Last night I was invited out to dinner by an American colleague to meet some visiting family members. In total there were 10 of us, half of whom were Western, half Moroccan. I heard through the grapevine that one of her Muslim guests had specifically requested that the hostess ask all guests to abstain from ordering (and presumably drinking) alcohol. Reluctantly (I believe - or I at least hope), she agreed, and advised all but two of us.
Now, I was aware of her guest's sensibilities but technically, his views had not been conveyed to me by the hostess. In my mind, this was a loophole of sorts.

I would add that not only is Morocco not a dry country (apart from the desert) but that the restaurant where we dined was licensed. Were my rights not being trampled? Although I am a guest in his country, he was a guest at her table. Why was the wish of one individual given precedence over the rights of the majority - especially when our collective wish to have a cocktail or glass of wine was a legal act in a country which produces some fine wines (Morocco has its own Appellation Controllée system patterned on the French model and 2005 saw volume sales of wine rise to almost 38 million litres, a 4% from the previous year).

So dear reader, I ask you: what would you have done?

13 Comments:

Anonymous chrisso said...

I would have ordered an entire bottle of wine and if the guest had a problem ask them to sit at another table!

Seriously, it is a bit delicate, but, this is like asking people not to eat meat at a restaurant because you are a vegetarian and they are not.

An individual should not have to conform to another's request simply because their beliefs prohibit them from doing particulars like eating and drinking.

Not to be harsh, but if they truly felt that strong about no drinking, why did they agree to go to a restaurant that served alcohol in the first place?

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Myrtus said...

I totally agree with you Chrisso, it was very rude on the Muslim's part.

2:13 PM  
Blogger knarf said...

Two situations come to mind, and (as you might expect) they both involve our father.

First, I recall a barbeque in Mahone Bay, with numerous and sundry Caves and Cave-children in attendance. I'd purchased some beer for the occasion, and as folks were arriving, Mom took me aside and told me that as Gil (a recovering alcoholic) would be there that perhaps I shouldn't drink. Dad said that Gil was free to not drink, but wondered why ~we~ should monitor our behaviour due to ~his~ problem. If he couldn't stay dry in the sight of those having a beer on a hot (for Nova Scotia) summer afternoon, perhaps ~he~ should not attend.

Mom reluctantly agreed, likely for no other reason than that she knew we were going to have our beer (perhaps it was 'arf 'n 'arf?) anyway.

The second story is the infamous Helen and her shitty spaghetti at Nanny's. Having eaten a serving of the bland pasta, Dad and I were waiting in line for another portion, when H said, in her usual loud voice, "No second until everyone's had firsts!"

Dad and I remained in line, and he muttered under his breath: "If I want fucking seconds, I'll ~have~ fucking seconds."

We ate. No one commented.

I say to you, "drink and be merry". If someone's offended by that, let them leave.

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn, almost beat Knarf today! Nice work Chrisso!

Ummm...I would have ordered a bottle too! Vegetarian analogy is verrrryy nice!

Or if I had heard that (which I bet you hadn't) I wouldn't have gone. Sure the conversation was scintillaing! Did he want to order for everyone too?

Hmmmm...Were you not allowed to have desert because he was a diabetic? Or you should have told him you were doing Atkins so he couldn't have carbs at the table!

Estee

3:36 PM  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

By the way: I ordered a bottle of wine - shared it with the Kiwi at the table. The gentleman in question was very upset.

4:06 PM  
Blogger knarf said...

C in R,

Good job, good job...

4:13 PM  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

Someone had to do it ... really, I had no choice.

4:36 PM  
Blogger ByronB said...

Are you serious? He wanted other people to go without just because he chose to?
Good grief!
I'd have made sure the table booked was placed next to a team of visiting rugby players liberally supplied with beer!
Cheeky monkey.

5:01 PM  
Blogger knarf said...

C in R,

I could have sent my former housemate to do the job for you...

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Liosliath said...

I know plenty of Muslims who strictly adhere to the no-drinking policy, but they don't foist it on others...then again, after the ridiculous stuff about haram dogs and queerats (or whatever the hell it was) it's obvious that zealots (in any religion, I suppose) will always find a way to be annoying.

I would have done the same thing, good for you. Then I would have told the guy that my husband was a Muslim who drinks, eats pork, and doesn't pray...I'll bet he would have turned purple with rage. Fun.

I want to mention that DH, though somewhat lax in his five pillars, believes himself to be a better Muslim than those such as your non-drinking dinner companion? Why? It's kind of like when I went to Mass, and there would be all the suck-ups there nodding and trying to look angelic, who after church would be gossiping, yelling at their kids, cutting people off on the way out of the parking lot...hypocrites, basically. DH says the most important thing is "to be kind to others and live a good life" - which he does!

6:30 AM  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

Ahhhh, Liosliath, truer words were never spoke.

10:03 AM  
Blogger ByronB said...

I could understand if he objected to the topless waitresses - after all, there are some things you just don't want bobbing about in your soup, aren't there?

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Liosliath said...

You know, my husband wanted me to tell you that you did the right thing, too. He said the guy sounds like a jerk.

9:11 AM  

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