my report: working for transparency in Morocco

Rabat Airport. Somehow just another airport, a very small one maybe. I am missing the time when you were travelling and arriving slowly, when you had time to prepare yourself while travelling. Now: Some shimmering lights in the dark. I walk from the plane to the immigration building. I arrive in Rabat, Morocco to put my feet on African soil for the first time in my life. (…)

The report on my time in Morocco is online. Read it here. It is difficult to summarize, select experiences and get a grip on my time in Morocco. Here’s my try. And as mentioned in an earlier post, it will evolve with time.

To discuss our CrossCulture Internship in Morocco, I will sit together with Lena, who did the same programme in Rabat, on a panel at the book fair in Leipzig on Saturday, 14 March, 2pm. The panel is  called “Germany, Morocco and back” and will be moderated by Judith Schulte-Loh from ZOOM Europa/ARTE .

It’s great,  as while I am sure we will have a good time to reflect our experiences, I also have never been on a book fair. I love reading, especially as it allows me to submerge myself into a different culture. In Morocco, I read one of the national classics by Driss Chraïbi “Le Passé simple” (The Simple Past), published in 1954, and I still owe you a review.

The Leipzig fair will be a great opportunity to find some promising German authors for a change.

Luttons la corruption

Luttons la corruption

Adieu Mères

There are few movie theatres in Rabat. The Institute Française shows movies in their little theatre on Saturday’s and Sunday’s at 6:30pm. But then there’s the theatre 7ème Art, just in the centre of the city. A quite modern building with a Bauhausian name sign above the entrance, at one side of a plaza next to the city centre’s main avenue Mohamed V.

Adieu Mères

Since I arrived two weeks ago, they have been showing the same movie, Adieu mères (Goodbye Mothers) by Mohamed Ismail, his fourth film. If you have a look at the poster, you might not necessarily feel very attracted to go see it. But entrance is 15 Dirham (1 Euro 50), it’s part of Moroccan culture, and it deals with a topic, Jewish emigration in the 60′s, that is being discussed recently in Morocco and was on the cover of one of the main weekly magazines, TelQuel, that titled last week: The Jew in Us (story in French). So tonight was the night. Function was on at 9pm, as every night. I went with a friend and we got our ticket from the ticket counter, right next to the entrance that leads directly into the one big hall, with the hallway in the middle (where usually the best seats are). Comfortable, red, slightly run-down and squeaking seats. But it gives you this feeling of a movie theatre. Not a multiplex, but really a place to appreciate a film. Not many were there to appreciate tonight’s function though. It started of with a Moroccan short movie, called Liberé Provisoire that although with some parts in Arabic, had a nice little plot of a man who leaves prison, picks up the money he had hidden, and looses it when he goes into a bar following a woman making him eyes… and a surprising ending.

Adieu Mères is telling the story of a Jewish community in Morocco, filmed on the background of Jewish emigration to Israel in the 60s, where a thousand year long history of Jewish population exists. Today only about 2,000 remain, while in 1950 there were nearly 250,000 on 10 million Moroccans. The story turns around the impossible love between a young Jewish girl and the Muslim boy, and a father, who feels he has to leave family and his best friend behind for a better living.

The film is tragic, very tragic and touches on the deepest feelings of human nature, home (what we call in German “Heimat”), friendship, love, sorrow, and family. It is different in a sense that it doesn’t use the acting, cutting and story telling in a way we are used, and the score is somewhere between Once upon a time and Titanic, but the feelings can be understood anywhere. So I’ll be back for more, whenever the programme may change.

By the way, the movie is nominated for best foreign movie for next year’s Oscars celebration and talking about Hollywood, for Hollywood movies go to the Medina, where the latest can be found for just 10 Dirham (about 1 Euro). One might think sometimes even before they are out in the USA.

How to drink Moroccan tea

Little things that are helpful to know, lesson number 1: here’s how you have to serve Moroccan tea.

After spilling half of the pot the previous times I had some Moroccan tea, which is lightly sugared green tea with mint leafs, yesterday, I was finally shown how you get all the tea in the glass. Please excuse the slightly blurred picture. It was actually quite difficult to serve with one hand, and take a picture with the other.

Pouring Moroccan tea

Pouring Moroccan tea

The trick is to elevate the teapot and to find the right angle to hold it while pouring so that the tea and mint leafs in the pot do not cover the spout from inside. Once served, the tea will have a head, similar to a beer.

Enjoy your warm tea, especially during cold and rainy November days in Rabat.

Gathering voices

Here’s the idea. I like music, film, books and experiencing cultures. I find it exciting to discover how people live all over the world. My work allows me to travel to some places and work in some countries for some time. But often, I just hear a song, read a book or a news story that I want to share because it gets me thinking. Or I met someone who challenges my view of the world. That’s what this blog is about.

I’ll be working in Morocco for six weeks end of this year. More detail to come once the final arrangements are made.

This experience will be exciting and challenging. And there will be lots of new impressions that I want to share. Maybe conversations and discussions will emerge. And getting people talking about things they know and don’t know is the best way to understanding us better. An ambitious aim that I will not accomplish with a little blog. But it’s worth starting the conversation.