Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Little Mosque under construction

There's a new mosque being built in our neighbourhood. Cody and I walked over to admire their craftsmanship. All brick and mortar; no wood, no steel. There was an aged, robed gentlemen at the main entry selling prayer mats and texts from the Koran. Cody and I really wanted to get into the site and meet the workers who were quite freindly and welcoming from behind the construction fencing.
I asked the gate guy "Moshe-nah? (Permission?)
He said, in Russian, "Do you speak Russian?"
I said "Nyet."
"Parlez vous Francais?"
I said "Petit," but I should have just said "non" in order to save time.
"Urdu?" (the Hindustani language of the Muslim world)
"Nyet." (Holy macaroni: who is this guy? Four languages and counting.)
Patiently, as if to test me, he asked "Allah u Akbar?" (God is great?)
Finally! We could communicate! "Allah u Akbar!" I replied.
"Moshe-nah," he replied, smiling. ("Permission," and he gestured for us to enter.)
We took exactly 20 steps and then the mullah saw us (the mosque's main teacher). He stopped us and started giving the gate guy trouble. We've visited several mosques in 3-4 different countries and there are usually places within them that are clearly innapropriate for us to enter. But in Almaty, we weren't even allowed in the entry way. Maybe next time.

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