Yesterday Bean went to the neighborhood bazaar for the first time. We shopped for the veggies we would need this week, bought some peaches to make a cobbler, and then went to buy her some little jeans. She is an incredibly curious baby who turns her head from side to side all the time — just to try to take it all in. She has worn all the hair off the back of her head doing this, leaving the strangest little bald patch.
As we walked through the bazaar, I paid attention to the tomatoes and the price of eggplant. Bean paid attention to all the people talking to her. It seemed that I was walking through a haze of Maşallah! Maşallah!
This word, whose precise meaning is unknown to me, is used in many situations. With a baby, it’s used to ward off the evil eye or any bad spirits. People believe that complementing a child or saying anything good will cause spirits to be jealous and do harm. So, if they see a cute kid, their immediate response is Maşallah! (It’s pronounced Mah-shah-lah.) In this same vein, they also don’t call a child cute, beautiful, or anything else positive. You can say a kid is sweet, but other than that, no way. Instead, Bean frequently gets called little ugly one, “my witch,” or bug. She also has been called softie, blue, and bead. Softie? Well, because of her big fat cheeks. Blue? Because of those blue eyes. Bead? That’s a reference to the evil eye bead that people wear to ward off the same evil spirits. They wear them as bracelets or necklaces. They pin charms on their babies. They have larger glass beads or plaque-type glass eyes to protect their cars and their homes. They put pictures of this bead on napkins, table cloths, clothing, and even teacups. The symbol is everywhere. Since it’s a blue eye and Bean has beautiful blue eyes, she is automatically a bead. She’s also apparently protected from evil just because of her eyes. Um, yeah.
People here (especially women over the age of 40) like to tell moms what to do. It’s their way of saying “I care in a very bossy way!” Yesterday, I was walking down the hill and heading to the section of the bazaar where there are clothes. Bean was chillin’ in her stroller. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an old lady walked by hollering “The sun is in her eyes! The sun is in her eyes!” Usually, these women will stop until you listen to them or do something about it. Not this lady, she hollered and kept on going. It was a walk-by scolding. Needless to say, I ignored her. Yes, the sun was out and yes, Bean’s eyes were closing. But, she wasn’t squinting. She was trying to go to sleep.
Anyway, we had a great time at the bazaar. With the exception of the scolding one, everyone was sweet and played with Beanie. She got lots of cheek-pinches and people talking to her. Then, she got a cute new pair of jeans. I think she liked all the sights and sounds, but by the time we got home she was worn out! Because I pushed her stroller back up the long, steep hill, I was worn out, too!