By Kriselda Erin Athimulam
By Kriselda Erin Athimulam
Fez – Living in Morocco for the last year and a half has been an experience that has been difficult, frustrating and sometimes just impossible.
However it is also a cultural paradise for the senses. It is enriching, educating and one of those experiences one simply does not forget.
The culture in Morocco is more of a “enjoy the simple things in life”. Like with coffee for example. People in Morocco stop everything to enjoy a coffee or a cup of tea with mint. But to me as I love coffee, I say but where is the Starbucks, meaning coffee on the go, which I think is defeating the purpose of just taking a time out to enjoy it.
Something else that is so fascinating to me is the rich love of food and the amazing dress of Moroccans. Being Indian, I know all about rich fattening food and the colors of traditional outfits, the family gathering and the amount of hype and excitement involved in family occasions or weddings especially. And somehow I find that they are so similar to my cultural beliefs. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I feel so at home in this magnificent country, and most of all in Fez. Moroccans are amongst the most beautiful in the world, especially at the cultural level.
Moroccans are warm, caring and often very helpful people. For a person like myself who lives independently, this is a saving grace extended by the lovely people I am very lucky to have come onto contact with in my time here. Fez, the city I live in, is a city with the Treasure that is the Ancient Medina.
I work in the Medina and live in the New city, and I am able to tell the difference in the lifestyle and culture each day as I pass through the city and make my way into the Medina.
The Medina is a place that most people live their whole lives inside, they are born, educated, employed and married within these walls. That’s their life and they somehow don’t belong in any other place. Why would they need to know any other when the Medina has education and opportunity for employment and the added aspect of generations of families doing the same line of work, which has been passed down through the years?
On the other hand, you have the people in the New city, who are more outgoing, ambitious, worldlier one could say. As I grew up in a big city myself in South Africa, I feel more comfortable and at home in the new part of the city.
Although these might be some of the difference, I have observed, as a foreigner, that there is one thing that most Moroccan people have, namely respect for people, especially woman and the elderly. I am always out alone and there is of course the interest displayed by the odd gentleman. But as is in normal circumstances, if you politely ignore the attention or in a situation where someone approaches you, if you continue by saying that you are involved/engaged/married etc., that’s where it stops. There is no harassment and there is no need to feel threatened. But of course that’s my opinion. My attitude towards Morocco is that I am much safer here than I would be in any other part of the world.
Saying that someone is heavier in his or her pursuit of you because of the social or educational background is not entirely fair. Do we expect Morocco to be different because it’s an Arabic country and expect everyone to be stuffy religious types with no sense of humor or to be lacking normal social character?
Well with the existence of misconception without properly getting to know people, the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, the socially fit and the socially awkward, one simply cannot say that the level of interest you get from a Moroccan man depends on his education or the area where he resides. As a very good friend of mine put it “Moroccan men like women and they also like to appreciate the beauty of a woman”. Which I see as being quite easy, as most of the woman I have met here, take care of themselves and are very conscious about their appearance.
Being a person of routine, (sometimes difficult to do in Morocco) I have certain places where I have breakfast every morning, places where I do my girly shopping and places in general where I hang around alone or with company. I am offered nothing but friendly curiosity as to where I am from and what brings me to Morocco. I am greeted by warm friendly smiles and hearty handshakes. And by my lady friends at the girly shops, I am greeted with hugs and kisses as if was an old friend dropping by for a chat. Not every person who says hello is trying to flirt. Some are genuinely friendly and willing to help. My Arabic is less than desirable (for no lack of trying), and I’m pleasantly surprised at the amount of lessons I get in Arabic from the very patient and accommodating taxi drivers.
I work at a Luxury Riad in the Medina, where I am only too happy to tell people about this wonderful city and the people, and hope that they will experience it for themselves. And they do. It’s always a great feeling to listen to people tell you about their experiences after they tour through the Medina, and if they enjoy it and tell more people about it, then I can only hope that more people take time of out their busy lives to come and see and experience a place where culture, family and tradition still take precedence. It’s very easy to fall in love with Morocco and also easy to stay in love with it. I know I am!
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy