Casablanca- Have you ever taken one of these numerous white taxis in Casablanca to get somewhere in the city? If your answer is negative, then you are missing a golden opportunity to hit several birds with one stone. The “big cab,” a.k.a “white cab,” in Casablanca is a moving assembly where social issues pertaining to the city or to Morocco at large are exposed and probed.
White cabs in Casablanca are exceptional. Unlike the red, small cabs also found in the city, people from all walks of life take a white taxi. Four people squeeze into the back and two in the front, including the driver with his own seat on the left. This is how a customary full white cab looks like in Casablanca.
Moroccans who get in white cabs have unconsciously made some of their spontaneous behaviors customary tendencies, which were standardized almost all across the city. To successfully stop the right cab that would take you where you want to go, you are expected to have learnt by heart an array of hand signs and gestures each associated with a location in the city.
From a finger pointing, to an entire hand gesturing consistently, all these signs help potential passengers to communicate with the driver while he is still driving their way. If a white cab’s driver recognizes a sign that corresponds to his standardized trajectory, he will automatically pull over to let you get in; otherwise, the driver just passes you by without stopping.
Once your location sign matches the right cab, the latter stops right before you, or sometimes pulls over steps away from you, requiring you to follow it until it stops. When you open a white cab’s door, the first thing you do is to check whether you actually stopped the right cab. You basically translate the sign you have just displayed manually into words. In some cases, miscommunication happens, either because the passengers confuse signs, or because the driver does not make out the sign.
Once in, most people greet you pronouncing the Islamic phrase “Salamo Alaikoum” (Peace be upon you). If you don’t get a response, then it’s either because your greeting took place in your imagination, or because the people in the cab didn’t have a good day.
In most cases, and to make the ride as comfortable as possible for the people sitting in the back, one or two of them have to refrain from leaning their backs against the back seat; otherwise, the four passengers in the back would be squeezing to death, which is not a fun thing when you’re heading somewhere quite far.
As to the two passengers sitting in the front, things are usually all right. However, if you cannot really hold on amidst such conditions throughout your ride, you can pay for two seats, which allow more space and guarantees you that the cab driver will not pull over for the next guy on the road.
A ride in Casablanca’s white cab can be a one of a kind experience. Some rides are so instructive, enjoyable, funny or creepy that you spend the following week relating them over and over to your friends and relatives. In most cases, conversations among passengers or with the driver revolve around social issues in the city or in the Kingdom.
A debate over a social issue during a ride in Casablanca’s white cab usually starts off with one of the passengers narrating an anecdote or a scenario to the driver or to no specific person in the cab. In most cases, passengers or the driver, who are all strangers to one another, respond to the conversation and each of them states his/her opinion in all sorts of fashions. You may see people crying, shouting or laughing for no particular reason.
For foreigners, a ride in Casablanca’s white cab for a day would be sufficient to introduce them to Moroccans’ mentality and ways of life, especially if the foreigner in question understands Moroccan Arabic. For a Moroccan coming from a different city, a ride in the white cab would be sufficient to introduce him to the commonalities and dissimilarities between life in his or her city and life in Casablanca. Casablanca’s white cab is the city’s ID.
In Casablanca’s Grand taxi, Moroccans debate social issues in the most spontaneous and straightforward manner. Though passengers might have never met before, you find them all engaged in a debate or discussion of issues pertaining to their day-to-day life, the life in the city or social problems in the kingdom at large.
A space as simple as that Casablanca’s white cab allows affords its passengers the right to express themselves openly and freely. The narrow space for dialogue that white cabs in Casablanca, or perhaps any other cabs in the kingdom, allow Moroccans are a relieving space for expression, in which the passengers express their approval, disapproval, condemnation and analysis of varying issues they see as impeding Morocco’s development.
Casablanca’s white cabs demonstrate how smothered Moroccans feel and how in dire need they are for a space for expression and dialogue. Social issues are everywhere one goes, but debate discussion and dialogue are the only tools sometimes required to come up with practical solvents to social impediment.
Once dropped at one’s destination, passengers disperse with their minds loaded with new perspectives and vantage points from which social issues can be viewed. Society is no longer a mystery when its components interact, even in one of the most inconvenient spaces for expression, a cab.
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