By Erin Geneva
Morocco World News
Rabat, June 17, 2013
I am a graduate student. This is a busy enough workload, but I have also worked throughout the majority of my studies as well as been involved in my community. As a result of these experiences I have learned (or more accurately been forced to learn) how to manage my time effectively. This means that I’m used to waking up to my Iphone’s alarm, scrolling through my list of tasks for the day, often with a scheduled time for each before I even get up. This does not allow much room for flexibility, or spontaneity.
Since arriving in Morocco, I have seen quite a different concept of time. At home (Canada), a scheduled work day means time is measured to the minute. You show up on time, you do not take more than your scheduled break times and you exceed speed limits, forego your morning coffee and nearly get hit by buses in your desperate effort to avoid the unthinkable event of tardiness. You only text when your boss isn’t looking, you are horrified if someone catches you checking your Facebook, and you would feel an utter certainty of being fired if ever caught sleeping on the job.
Since arriving in Morocco, I have seen quite a different attitude toward work, and also a noticeable difference in the way people compartmentalize their lives between work and home. Kipling’s famous line “East is East and West as West and never the twain shall meet” seems analogous to the way many of us at home regard our work and home lives: Home is home and work is work and never the twain shall meet. We eat lunch at a café, in a break room, or often even at our desks. Often our families don’t have much of an idea about what we do at work. Similarly, even if we are going through a difficult time in our lives, professionalism demands that we “leave it at the door” when we enter our workplace, and act as an alternative version of ourselves. I think that this can be hard on people.
This is not the case in Morocco as I have observed. I was quite shocked when I was told after my first week as an intern here that I could break for lunch from 1-3pm! As I’m walking home to eat my lunch, I often observe men in business clothes with prayer rugs in hand off to the local mosque, or even construction workers finding shade from the afternoon sun and taking naps! And they are doing this at work, right on their work site. Clearly, the Moroccan conception of a lunch break differs significantly from its North American counterpart.
I have also heard lots of jokes being made about “Moroccan rendezvous.” I have learned not to expect things here to begin on time. Also, many meetings, events, travel plans or social events seem to happen with an acute spontaneity.
I’m used to measuring my time to the minute, planning trips well in advance or even spending weeks scheduling a dinner out with friends just to get a time that makes it possible for each of us to attend. Coming from this experience, I originally found the more relaxed Moroccan conception of time excruciatingly annoying.
However, after 6 weeks here, I have realized that this more relaxed attitude toward time has seemed to release an enormous weight from my shoulders. I’ve stopped feeling enslaved by my iphone, and I’ve started to slow down and live in the moment a little bit more. I’ve begun to enjoy my lunch, and stopped constantly checking the time and worrying I may be late getting back to work. I’ve stopped feeling annoyed when one of my co-workers suggests we start a new task five minutes before the day is supposed to end.
I have started carrying a novel in my bag, and making sure I always have headphones, just in case I need to pass some time waiting for something to begin. I have stopped obsessively checking the time if ever I have to wait for something, and cringing at the thought of the time being wasted. Sometimes, I’m even able to just sit, wait and enjoy the fact that even if only for a short time-I don’t have anything to do.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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