Salam alaykum Victor Manuel
My host family loves soap operas. Actually, that would be an understatement. From the time I wake up, until well after I’m asleep, a soap opera is playing on TV. The thing is, there aren’t any Moroccan soap operas. Their soaps of choice are Turkish and Mexican. They are both dubbed into Moroccan Arabic, but the names of the characters are kept in their original languages. This is hardly noticeable for the Turkish soaps, but it is hilariously apparent in the Mexican shows. “Salam alaykum Victor Manuel! Wa alaykum asalaam Juan Garces!”
Your girlfriend is trying to reach you…
Kuthur, one of my host sisters, has a puffy Rebecca Black sticker on the back of her cell phone. Her ringtone is R2D2 like sounds followed by a valley girl saying, “Your girlfriend is trying to reach you…your girlfriend is trying to reach you…”
Hello, you speak English?
Although it is happening less and less, a couple times a day, a Moroccan guy who is between 5 and 35 years old approaches me and ask, “You speak English? You want to see tanneries? I take you.” The tanneries are where traditional leather goods are made in the Fes medina. They are a cool place to visit. In fact, if you come to Fes, you have to visit the tanneries. But only visit them once. After all, you can buy all of the goods sold at the tannery at other places in the medina for a fraction of the price. And, the tanneries smell awful. So no, I don’t want to go to the freakin’ tanneries. And no, I don’t want to have this conversation again. And no, I don’t want to be followed by somebody who wants to take me to the tanneries so that he can get a kickback.
Today: “Monsieur, monsieur, you speak English? “ Muhammad (this is how my Arabic teacher refers to all males in Morocco; females are Fatima) is inches away from my face. I want to push him away and reclaim my personal space, but I know this will only egg him on further. I hear the word tanneries escape his lips. Before he can say anything else, I ask him in Arabic, “Do you want to see the tanneries?” Muhammad looks confused. I ask again, “Do you? Do you want to see the tanneries?” He replies, “Why would I want to see the tanneries?”
“You don’t want a bag? Maybe a gift for your mother?” Muhammad looks very confused.
“No, I live here…I don’t want to see the tanneries”
“Ahh ha” I proclaim. “Me too. Salam Alaykum.”