Morocco Day 2: Reflections + a funny story

Most things are familiar.

  • The Nass al Ghiwane playing "Fein ghadi biya khoya" on the radio. The song translates to "Where are you taking us brother?" It was a protest song in the 1970s, questioning the direction then king Hassan II was taking the country.
  • The lengthy greetings. "Peace be upon you." "And upon you peace." "How are you?" "I'm fine, praise Allah. And you?" "I'm fine, praise Allah." "And your family, how are they?" "They're fine, praise Allah. And yours?" It goes on.
  • The spread of the muezzin's call to prayer from the central mosque to outlying mosques.

Some things are new:

  • The development on the other side of the Bouregreg river. The modern buildings look like they might be luxury housing units.
  • The price of Telquel is now 20 dirhams. A big price increase from only three years ago.
  • Having two little Moroccan brothers. One is two years old, and cute as a button and mischievous as hell. The other is seven and shy, and very involved with watching cartoons on tv. (Something else new, Cartoon Network "Arabiyya")
  • The Qalam wa Lawh language school is really lovely, and chock full of students. The staff is gracious and kind, and everyone speaks Fusha all the time.
  • Wifi is everywhere! OMG wifi in my house!

I met my host family today. Said, the father of the family, picked me up from the language school. In the car, I asked what he did. He said, "I work for the Ministry of the Interior." The Ministry of the Interior is the government agency that monitors the activities of citizens (and foreigners). I asked him what he did for the Ministry. "I'm in the accountability office," he said in stumbling English. It's a good thing I was sitting down or I might have fallen over laughing. How is it that an agency know for the torture and disappearance of Moroccan citizens has an accountability office! Do they have an obudsmen too? It was just too much.

Later that day, I asked Said how to say accountability in Arabic. Then I asked him where the root of the word came from. "Ha Sa Ba, to count," he explained. "Oh, so you're an accountant?" I asked. "Yes. Numbers all day," he replied.

A recap. Said, eager to practice his English, said "accountability" when what he meant was "accounting." In the context of the Ministry of the Interior, the faux pas was magnified. Just to be clear, there is no accountability office in the Ministry of the Interior. At least not yet ;)