Nadzhat Ordad is French basketball player, who since 2017 has been playing for ‘Horizont.’ She is 26 years old and sticks to the Muslim traditions. She is a fan of ‘Paris Saint-Germain’ and learns English enthusiastically. Nadzhet arranged the meeting in the bakery with real Paris atmosphere. Nadzhat is getting late therefore she sends me messages with sorrows and promises to compensate it with great coffee with éclairs and tartlets. And within minutes at the café’s door I see a petite French girl with Shakira appearance.
– Oh yes! People confuse me with Shakira. I returned from Slovakia, where old men yelled after me ‘Oh my God! This is Shakira! Please, wait!’ ‘It’s unbelievable,’ – girl laughs.
Nadzhat makes an impression of naughty European girl although she has a Moroccan origin and has risen in the tradition of Arabic culture.
– I was born in French city Orleans, which has a population 20 times less than in Minsk. Orleans is a miniature copy of Paris. In Orleans there are as many possibilities as in Paris, but the magnitude is much less. When I was 15 years old I went to study in the USA. It so happened that I had been living for 7 years in the USA. It was really unforgettable period in my life which helped me to understand that I want to live in Europe. The Americans are incredible materialists: they are crazy about expensive purchases and the latest gadgets models. They are very inconsistent and paradoxical: defiantly argue about religion, although for a very long time pornography has been the most profitable industry in USA. Finally there are almost no natural products, but I care about my health.
‘In the city centre I see very well-dressed men but in the suburbs – exhausted old women.’
Dzhet have never been before in Belarus. She came in Minsk after New Year and first of all she went to the shop to buy warm clothes.
– I was dressed only in a leather jacket, but the temperature outside was to minus 30. The frost occurs in France also but the frost in Belarus is something extraordinary. For the first time I was surprised why people wear a trench coat and fur hats. They resembled characters from soviet movies in looks. There is a kind of freedom in that: the Belarusians saved some soviet culture and more and more borrow the European style. You remember where you come from. There are a lot of monuments and museums. Minsk is the city of contrasts: in the city centre I see expensive restaurants and very well-dressed men but in the suburbs – exhausted old women who on the last leg carry their heavy bags. Such imbalance occurs in many countries and France is not an exception.
Dzhet is a very charismatic girl. She enjoys every single moment and learns the Belarusian culture with a big interest.
– I don’t know how long I’ll stay here, but for me this is unforgettable experience. Surely, I don’t have a necessity to learn Russian. But in my opinion I won’t understand who the Belarusians are without language knowledge. I’m not a shy girl so I like communicate with people and ask them what one or another word means. My friends from the team admire: ‘Oh! You learn Russian! It’s fantastic!’ I don’t need a translator during trainings. It was my own decision. I try to understand everything in Russian and I’d like to say that I’m good at it. Russian is very interesting language: ‘tough, heavy but not so rough’ as German. Today I collect the moments. I will be incredible happy to tell my children about my living in Belarus experience.
French basketball player tries new things enthusiastically. She moves around the city by Uber taxi (proven and the simplest way), ‘traditional’ taxi and underground.
– It’s difficult to talk with taxi drivers as they almost don’t speak English. For the first time I was asking for help my friends from team, but then I took house number and street name pictures and showed them taxi-driver. I don’t have problems with underground: I read station names in Latin transliteration, memorize where the meeting holds and go there without any fears.
‘The Belarusians are very private people. But when you ask them for help they become friendlier.’
Nadzhat doesn’t pay attention to gimlet eyes in Minsk. She thinks that it’s a simple curiosity.
– I have an exotic appearance but France is a multicultural country so nobody pays attention to me. Minsk doesn’t have such a big number of nationalities. Therefore Minsk citizenships sometimes secondlooks at me and some of them ask permission to put my ringlets.
The Belarusians seem very private. But when you ask them for help they become friendlier. But I have met very sociable people. In winter one old woman came to my lodging to clean it. She was constantly wondering about something although we were talking in different languages. There are days when people walk up to me with a question how to reach some place. And can you imagine that sometimes I help them.
Nadzhat attracts men not only with her beautiful appearance and attractive body but with football knowledge. Dzhet is a fan of ‘Paris Saint-Germain’ and Real Madrid.
– On 14 February French football team gave me a real happiness by marmelizing ‘Barcelona’ but on 8 March flagged my spirit by return game. The French like football very much – it’s in our blood. In my childhood I used to play football with my father and brothers and also trained in the football section. We have some kind of rule: one part of France is “PSG” and ‘Real Madrid’ fans and the other ‘Marseille’ and ‘Barcelona’ fans. Of course, there are exceptions, but in common we have such type of fans.
I’ve never used my football knowledge to attract men attention. But sometimes it happens by accident. But they think that I’m a girl so I don’t understand what football is. When they knew that I’m a professional sportsman they changed their minds. I don’t understand men who don’t like sport. I don’t mean that they must be professional athletes but to be not interested in sport at all it is nonsense. I’ve never attend the Belarusian football game but my father says that the Belarusian national team is really cool. Last autumn our teams made a draw in elimination game.
‘In Belarus there are a lot of handsome men, they well-groomed, but they don’t overdo with their beauty’
I asked Nadzhat what she thinks about Belarusian men. She confuses but in a minute agrees to exchange confidences.
– In France there are a lot of nationalities and cultures. But the Belarusians are similar among each other. Even if they have Georgian or Polish roots, their appearance won’t be too exotic. In Belarus there are a lot of handsome men, they well-groomed, but they don’t overdo with their beauty. French men are crazy about their appearance – they spend hours in front of the mirror, manicure. It’s difficult for me to say something about men character and temperament. I think all men are different. One day I met with a boy who asked me if I have a boyfriend at the first minute of meeting. He was a very straightforward person, wasn’t he? But I would like to say that the majority of the Belarusians are – gentlemen: they hold the doors, let me go first. I would like to highlight that this is about good manners and gallantry of everyone in particular but not about the national characteristics.
Nadzhat doesn’t exclude the possibility to marry a Belarusian man. Life is unpredictable thing.
– Everything can happen. But there are some conditions. Firstly, my husband has to speak one of my family languages: French or Arabic, moreover, not only he but also his parents. My relatives maintain traditional attitudes: we think that marriage is contracted not only between woman and man but also between families. Therefore it’s really important our parents can communicate freely among each other. Secondly, we have to solve a food question. I’m a Muslim so I don’t drink alcohol, don’t eat pork but the Belarusians eat a lot of meat dishes. Also I like spicy food. I remember we have had a launch with our team, and I have eaten chicken steak with Tabasco sauce. It is incredibly spicy but for me it has a traditional taste. You know that people who over drink with time have an addiction to alcohol. The same situation with me – I don’t notice its quantity. My friend has tasted just a little piece of steak and then she was crying because for her it was too spicy.
“I pray five times a day, keep the fast In Ramadan but don’t impose my views on the rest of the world”.
Nadzhat Ordad is tolerant in matters of religion. She has read a lot of books including the Bible and Toru to understand what the religion means.
– The main postulates are similar in all religions. I grew up in the Muslim family so I’m a deeply faithful person. I would like to give my children similar moral and religious education. In my opinion wife and husband have to have the same religion. It helps to avoid problems with a child future religion. I have friends where husband is Jewish and wife – Catholic. Every time they have to find compromises.
“Horizont” basketball player says that she often faces with essential ignorance: people not always separate radical Islamists and usual faithful Muslims.
– There are a lot of stereotypes about our religion. Although if to look a little bit deeper we can see that the terrorists kill Muslims also. People ask me why I don’t wear the hijab. I believe that the faith is in our hearts. There is no a necessity to demonstrate it others. I pray five times a day, keep the fast in Ramadan but don’t impose my views on the rest of the world. It is believed that husband can ask her wife to cover her head but he has no rights to force her to do it. The man is the head of the family but men and women rights are equal. My father has never forced me to cover my head with hijab. My mother has never worn hijab. Today she is 60 years old and she covers her head but I would like to highlight that it was her own and conscious decision only. When I get married my clothes will be simple but I won’t hide under hijab.
I try to explain to people what Islam is if I see that they are interested in. And avoid persons who ask me: ‘Why the world suffers from terrorists’. Unfortunately, mobsters and assassins are among people from different faiths. From seven billion of people in the world two billion are Muslims. You agree with me that if all these people had destructive behavior we wouldn’t have a piece in the world. Actually, Islam is peace-loving religion. But people are misinformed under a bad influence of the television.
Basketball player remembered how she had to educate the Americans and foster in elementary tolerance.
– When I was a teenager I have been living in the USA in sans-culotte family. He was a good man but was against to multicultural America, was negatively treated Afro-Americans. He was a typical representative Trump’s electorate. After living in America I understood why people think in such a limited way. They, unlike Europeans, almost never travel; they are misinformed under a bad influence of the television. It seemed that I opened new world for my American parents. I wanted to explain them what Islam is and educate them to be more tolerant. It was ironic that later their daughter married black guy.
‘I don’t miss home too much’
The contract with “Horizont” is finishing in April. We will know soon about Nadzhat’s future.
– I don’t miss home too much. I’m a professional sportsman so endless moving around are my life. After all, sometimes I can go to French café and feel nostalgic. In Belarus there are all my favorite dishes maybe just the way of cooking is different. For example, I adore American pancakes, in France there is an analogue – French crepes and in Belarus – nalistniki.
Everything is interchangeable. But sometimes I want exactly chocolate pancakes saucing with maple syrup. The habit is tricky.
Original text was published by TUT.by