From Morocco With Love

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The first time I laid eyes on Rama Abdel-Masih, I was mesmerized. I mean, I was walking through the Rideau Shopping Center with my boys, Timothy and Dalton, one Saturday night, and when I saw her I just froze, man. I see pretty girls all the time, don’t get me wrong. I simply wasn’t used to seeing tall, majestic ladies in hijabs and regal long robes. With her angelic face, curvaceous figure and heart-shaped derriere which not even her Islamic robes could hide, the lady simply took my breath away. I decided right then and there that I had to have her, and this led me to a life-changing journey.

My name is Alessandro Carvalho. I was born in the City of Kingston, Ontario, to a Portuguese-Canadian father, Eduardo Carvalho, and a Haitian immigrant mother, Alexandra Jean-Baptiste. My parents came from different worlds, and as an interracial family in a lily-white small town in Ontario, we got our fair share of stares. At my old high school, we had about eight hundred students, and I could count the number of non-white students on one hand. Hard to believe that Kingston is not too far from Toronto, the most racially diverse locale in all of North America.

A lot of people speak fondly of their birthplaces. Me? I hated Kingston and left it as quickly as I could. I used to get teased by other students because of my skin color. I grew up to be six-foot-three and by the time I was eighteen, I weighed two hundred and fifty pounds. The teasing and taunting stopped the day I became a giant, and learned to fight back. Nevertheless, I ditched Kingston, swearing never to return. I mean, there’s not much left for me back there anyways. My parents got separated during my junior year of high school. After my high school graduation, Mom moved to the City of Montreal, Quebec, and Dad got a job in the oil sands in Alberta.

Our old house, the site of so many fond memories, got sold. Part of that pile of cash went to fund my education. The rest? I don’t even know. All I know is that you couldn’t force me to go back to Kingston at gunpoint. I needed someplace more diverse than that. That’s why I opted to study at Carleton University in the City of Ottawa, Ontario. I originally wanted to study at the University of Toronto but my grades were, ahem, less than stellar. Alright, I’m a bit of a slacker when it comes to academics, alright? I’m a B student on my best day.

Anyhow, while living in the City of Ottawa, I experienced a brand new world. Ottawa lags behind places like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary when it comes to racial and cultural diversity, but it’s generations ahead of Kingston, Ontario, that’s for damn sure. I became fascinated by all the different cultures I saw represented in town. For the first time in ages, I actually felt happy. In Kingston, I could go for months without seeing a single black person other than my mom, or my cousins from her side of the family when they would visit us from Quebec. In Ottawa, I saw black folks every day on the bus, the train, at the mall, etc.

Such a diverse population! Dark-skinned and absolutely gorgeous, lively girls from places like Senegal, Gambia and Somalia sporting their hijabs and brightly colored skirts. Doe-eyed Hindu women in their Saris. Graceful Arab women. Strongly built, cocky young Jamaican men. Nervous white guys with their man-bags and cell phones. Busy-looking Asian guys fiddling with their gadgets on the bus. Ottawa has all kinds. As a mixed-race guy from a small town, I delighted in what I was seeing. I enrolled at Carleton University, in the civil engineering program, and got myself a two-bedroom apartment in the east end of Ottawa. For work I became a shelf stocker at Loblaw’s. It’s not a bad job, pays twelve dollars an hour and all you do is stock shelves.

I was liking my new town, and even got myself some friends. I didn’t really have friends at my old high school in Kingston. Some of my acquaintances were pleasant enough, and we’d hang out a few times, that’s about it. Who am I kidding? Kingston is pure hell if you’re not white. People stare at you and say all kinds of racist stuff to your face. That’s small-town Canada for you. Enter at your own risk if you’re one of those they classify as “other”.

Seriously, if you’re Black, Chinese, Hindu, Arab, Aboriginal, or anything other than European, avoid that place. Take it from someone who spent a lifetime there. I wouldn’t go back to that place if you threatened to shoot my nuts off with a twelve-gauge shotgun. I hate it that much. Now, Ottawa can be quite racist sometimes. A lot of the local European-Canadians don’t like the influx of Somalis, Arabs, Chinese people and Aboriginals flooding their pristine little capital. That’s okay, though. Since I have it on good authority that the visible minority is growing by leaps and bounds demographically while the Euro-Canadian population declines, I wouldn’t worry about them too much.

Anyhow, now that I was far from my favorite little hell, I could live a little. While wandering through the engineering building, I Anadolu Yakası escort ran into a tall, muscular black dude. Goes by the name of Timothy Walters, and he’s straight from the City of Kingston, Jamaica. From the way he describes his hometown, it sounds like a fun place. I have to visit the island of Jamaica one of them days. Timothy was in his second year at CU and studied electrical engineering. Even though Carleton University is a very diverse school, the engineering department is one of the most…old-school. Lots of white guys there, not a lot of females, not a lot of minorities.

Timothy became my best friend, wingman and protector. He introduced me to Dalton Yamamoto, a tall, skinny, pale-skinned Asian dude with spiky black hair, sharp features and some mean-looking snake tattoos on his arms, shoulders and back. Dalton’s father Anthony Yamamoto is originally from the City of Komaki, somewhere in Japan, and his mother Maria Martinez is from the Dominican Republic. Dude is mixed, like me. He’s studying mechanical engineering. Together, we formed Los Tres Diablos. The Three Devils. Three minority guys determined to make it to the top of our game, academically, socially and in every other aspect.

These guys were the brothers I always wanted but never had, man. We hung out together, smoked together, studied together, listened to music together and chilled together. Add to that the fact that all three of lived in the east end and you had a recipe for perfect male bonding. I live on Presland Street, Dalton lives in Ogilvie and Timothy lives off of Montreal Road. We’re all within a couple miles of each other. The Three Devils were inseparable. We didn’t let anyone intimidate us. And we partied hard. If you’re a young minority guy in Ottawa, and you like the nightlife, you might run into some trouble. Seriously, the clubs out here have a policy of limiting the number of minority males on the premises, especially when it comes to young black men, just so the white guys don’t get nervous.

I remember one time when we went to Mansion, this club downtown, and while Timothy was doing the bump and grind with this blonde-haired white chick named Lori, the other guys in the club were hating on him big-time. Face it, even in the 2010s, people hate seeing young black men with white women. Remember the fuss people made over Kim Kardashian and Kanye West ending up on the cover of Vogue magazine? It had nothing to do with their public personas and everything to do with the fact that they’re an interracial couple. And out of all the interracial couples out there, the one combo that everyone seems to hate ( and grudgingly admire ) is black men and white women.

So, anyways, Timothy was dancing with Lori while Dalton flirted with this short, tattooed Goth chick named Miranda. As usual, I was my shy self, smiling at all the pretty ladies but unable to work up the nerve to chat one up. I sat at the bar, drinking Heineken and watching the Ottawa Senators lose to the Montreal Canadiens on TV. Not a big NHL fan but whatever. I saw a pretty Arab chick sit at the bar and just as I was about to use a lame line on her, some commotion on the dance floor caught my attention.

Timothy was surrounded by three white dudes, and one of them was saying that Lori belonged to him. Naturally, Timothy wasn’t having any of that. He got in the dudes faces and told them to get lost. When they got belligerent, I leapt to my buddy’s aid. I wasn’t about to let them get rough with him. When they found themselves facing two young men of color, two rowdy brothers at that, the white dudes looked less than thrilled. I hollered at Dalton and he promptly joined us. What followed is a violent brawl that ended with my buddies and I getting escorted ( unceremoniously tossed out ) off the premises by the burly bouncers and given a lifetime fan from one of Ottawa’s top night clubs.

It didn’t seem to matter to the bouncers or club management that the white dudes started this shit, they sided with them. Whatever. That’s Ottawa for you. I was disappointed but seriously, I should have seen it coming. Ottawa is more diverse than Kingston, Ontario, but some things never change. Those in charge typically look the other way when white guys break the rules but they’re quick to jump on a minority if he’s so much as defending himself. Fuck that club, man. My friends and I got on the OC Transpo bus and got our butts home. Then we swore we’d go clubbing on the Gatineau side. Ottawa sucks anyways, and we heard things are cheaper and livelier in Quebec.

These unfortunate events took place the night before I first spotted Rama Abdel-Masih as Tim, Dalton and I walked through the Rideau Shopping Center. We were coming down the escalator and making our way to the food court when I saw her…and walked after her as if in a trance. Timothy and Dalton went to grab some Chinese food while I saved us a table. My eyes were riveted on the tall, curvy, hijab-wearing Arab gal who sat with her friend, a short Asian gal. Anadolu Yakası escort bayan When my buddies came back, they teased me for making goo-goo eyes at Miss Arabia. Yeah, I know, but a guy can dream, can’t he?

We sat there, eating Chinese food and washing it down with Pepsis. From time to time I glanced at the tall Arab chick who sat there with her little Asian girlfriend like a queen with her handmaiden, eating something they bought at New York Fries. Great, now even immigrant women are into the dreaded poutine. As she ate a fry, her sexiness checked something in her Blackberry. Some bozo walking nearby bumped into her, causing her to drop the cell phone. The pretty Arab gal said something I didn’t hear, and reached for the phone.

The dude who bumped into her whirled around, and, red-faced, began unleashing upon her a barrage of expletives that would make a sailor blush. Damn. I mean, he was really laying it thick. That’s not cool, I said, and got up. Timothy tried to restrain me but I batted his arm away and marched to the lady’s table. Initially surprised by the brusque, rude bozo’s verbal assault, the Arab gal rose to her feet and in an accented voice she told him to get out of her face. At this point, everyone in the food court was watching the scene. Rideau is a funny place, man. You see all kinds of people around that mall. From the lunatics to the wannabes and the rich snobs. This guy obviously belonged to the first category.

I stepped between the loudmouth and the Arab gal just as he moved towards her. Fuck you want? the pimply-faced, short-haired and tattooed white dude with the sleeveless black shirt and faded jeans said. I glared at him. Leave the lady alone, I said, gritting my teeth and balling my fist. His eyes narrowed to slits and he looked me up and down. Too many of you fucking minorities in my town, he said, spittle flying out of his mouth as he spoke. I stepped closer, just in case this fool didn’t get the message. Back the fuck off loser, I said angrily. We seized each other up.

Ole dude was a couple inches shorter than me but wiry and muscular, and looked like he’d been in a few brawls. I’d battled his type before. Kingston, Ontario, is full of racist blowhards. I wasn’t intimidated. I knew what I looked like to him. I’m big and tall and brown, the definition of scary for a racist motherfucker like him. If he wanted to throw down, let him bring it. I’m ready. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when mall security arrived. Break it up guys, said a tall white dude wearing a vest and security uniform.

Seriously, why is it that security people/bouncers always have it in for me? The security guy called for backup and next thing I know, a brunette chick and a bald white dude, both sporting security gear and vests, flanked me. The racist shmuck backed off, smiling smugly. The three rent-a-cops looked ready to arrest me. Timothy and Dalton were ready to jump in but I told them to stay out of it. Everyone inside the food court stared at us, more than a few of them smirking or shaking their heads.

I knew how it looked, to them. The big minority guy is making trouble, that’s why security has him surrounded. The racist white dude who verbally assaulted and threatened an Arab lady simply for being, well, a minority woman from another religion? Let’s ignore that creep and let him get away. Hell, let’s give him a good citizen award. That’s how we operate in Canada. Right and wrong don’t matter in the great white north, only skin tone. I figured I was either getting arrested and getting handed over to the punk-ass Ottawa police or I’d get tossed out of the mall. And then she spoke. This man came after me and would have hurt me if not for you, the Arab gal said, looking at me and smiling faintly.

The security officers looked at her, then at me. The racist creep glared at the Arab gal murderously. Shut up you terrorist bitch, he growled. I looked at him and smiled. For once, I was glad the bigoted creep couldn’t keep his mouth shut. I looked at the security officers. The female officer looked pale, while the bald dude scratched his head. You need to leave the mall, he said finally, pointing his chubby finger at the racist creep. Whatever, the bozo grumbled, then ran out the mall. He exited, and I distinctly watched him enter the McDonalds across the street. Classy guy, eh?

The security officer looked at the Arab gal, apologized on behalf of mall management, and asked her if she would like to file a complaint. Dude all but ignored me. No thank you I am fine, she said. The two security officers nodded, then left. I stood there, trying hard not to laugh. I’ve heard that every dog has its day but damn, looks like I won today. Thank you for helping me, the Arab lady said. I nodded and looked at her. Damn, she was even better-looking up close. Bronze skin, dark eyes, full lips, pretty face, and a curvy body that won’t quit. Damn.

I am Alessandro, I said, holding out my hand. After a brief hesitation, the Arab shook escort bayan my hand. I am Rama, she said, and pointed to the Asian gal next to her. This is my friend Nadiya. Good to meet you, the shorter gal said. I smiled and nodded at them both. They packed up their belongings and walked away, and I reluctantly went back to my friends. You’re the man, Timothy said, and clapped me on the shoulder.

I smiled and shrugged as my buddies raved about the major cojones I must have for taking on a bigoted creep AND mall security on behalf of a chick I didn’t even know. I got it like that, I laughed. I smiled and looked longingly at Rama and her gal pal Nadiya as they exited the Rideau Shopping Center. I couldn’t help wondering if I’d ever see them again, or what I’d say if and when it happened. Guy rescues gal from a bad situation and they fall in love. Only happens in the movies, right? Well, a guy can dream, dammit!

The following Monday, I set foot inside the Carleton University library for the first time. I’ve never liked libraries. They’re full of annoying people with no life who like to shush you. I sat on the third floor, working on an assignment for the one class I hated the most. Sociology. I love civil engineering because it’s mostly math and science and it’s simple and beautiful. I hate stuff like sociology, literature and psychology, where there’s no definite right answer. I’ve always excelled at math and science and sucked at ‘human interest’ subjects. I’ve got to take a humanities type elective and Sociology 101 was open.

I sat at a computer, and stared blankly at the screen. I had Facebook and YouTube opened, along with Microsoft Word. I needed to write fifteen pages explaining why I felt that sociological perspectives could explain society and human nature. What kind of stupid question is that? I don’t get it. I sat there, and after writing the cover page and writing down my name and student number, along with the course name and number plus the professor’s name, I had absolutely nada. Seriously, I had nothing. And this assignment was worth twenty five percent of my grade. Shit. I’m not very religious but I was ready to start praying.

Guess who sat next to me? Rama, the stunning Arab chick from Rideau. As Salam Alaikum Alessandro, she said with a smile. Hi Rama, I managed to squeak out. Damn, the lady looked gorgeous in a long-sleeved red T-shirt, blue jeans and black hijab. I watched as she logged on her computer, then opened up C-Mail, the school’s online network, and opened up her work. I tried to focus on my work, failed miserably, and proceeded to make conversation with her instead. I was surprised to see Rama at Carleton, and she happily told me she was here studying psychology.

I looked at the pretty lady and smiled. Does a psychology student know anything about sociology? Inquiring minds, especially mine, want to know. Rama grinned and told me that not only did she take sociology before but she was familiar with the professor I had. You’re heaven sent, I told her, as I began thinking of ways to get her to help me. I didn’t even have to ploy her, Rama volunteered. You math guys tend to suck at humanities stuff, she laughed, pointing to my Engineering Dynamics textbook. I smiled sheepishly. You got no idea sister, I laughed.

Over the next hour or so, I got to know Rama Abdel-Masih. The tall, pretty lady turned out to be North African and not Arab like I suspected. Rama told me about her hometown of Sale, northwestern Morocco, where her parents, Imran and Latifa Abdel-Masih owned several restaurants. As to why a lovely lady from Morocco would move to freezing, boring-ass Ottawa? Rama told me she always wanted to study abroad, and Canada had always fascinated her. That’s why she came to Carleton as an international student. Hmmm. Impressive.

We didn’t discuss much sociology, though I did bounce a few ideas off Rama and she told me she’d help me with the paper. When I asked her for a way to get in touch with her, the pretty lady logged onto her Facebook and sent me a friend request. I happily accepted her request on the spot, and regretted using the picture of a trio of big-booty Brazilian chicks as my background poster for the day. Look, most of my friends on Facebook are dudes. I typically don’t have to worry about someone being offended by the borderline pornographic pictures of big-booty chicks in bikinis which I happen to collect. I’m single, alright?

Nice buns, Rama wrote underneath the aforementioned background picture, then she ‘liked’ it. This she did while sitting right next to me. Man, I felt so embarrassed but it’s good to see she’s got a sense of humor. For a moment there I thought Rama was one of those super-conservative broads, since she’s Muslim and wears the hijab and all. Nope, she seems fairly relaxed. That’s a good sign. I was about to ask her for her digits when she got up and said she had to get to class. Let us keep in touch Masha’Allah, Rama said. I nodded and smiled, for I didn’t know Jack in Arabic. Rama smiled at me and walked away. I sat there, watching her big butt practically busting out of them jeans. A lot of hijab-wearing girls wear tight-fitting Yoga pants or leggings or super-tight jeans. As someone who gawks at them every chance I get, I don’t mind but isn’t it counterproductive if they’re going for chastity and modesty?

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