A Musical Culture

In standard fashion, breakfast this morning consisted of tea, bread, butter, and jam. The tea, I find, tends to be too sweet, but Moroccans seems to prefer it that way. After breakfast I sat around and worked on my journal for a while. I watched Sarah work with a small, stainless steel, hand-operated machine to make long spaghetti strands. These she would use to make pastries, she informed me. It was a nifty little machine. One side had a roller which flattened the dough paper-thin, and the other side produced the spaghetti strands. I’m also impressed by Sarah’s work ethic. She’s always helping with household chores even without being told.

All this while Anas lay on the couch talking to his girlfriend, Marium, on the phone. He has a habit of spending hours on his cell phone with her. Suddenly he stuck the phone out towards me and told me to speak to Marium. I declined, but he insisted. She speaks very good English, he beseeched me. Reluctantly, I took the phone.

Marium had a very nice voice, and she did speak English quite well. Then she asked me to sing the DDLJ song. My reputation had preceded me. I demurred. I still felt self-conscious, even though I had sang the song several times already. I asked Marium to sing to me first, thinking that this was a sure-fire way of getting out of singing to her. However, after some initial hesitation, she complied. She sang an Arabic song. She had a beautiful singing voice. I was impressed. Anta mahdood, I told Anas. Then it was my turn. I sang with an open heart, dispelling the self-consciousness. What did it matter how badly I sang? These people appreciated my singing. They didn’t laugh or point out mistakes.

Marium seemed to have enjoyed the short bit. Faical’s mother heard my singing and stopped by. She sang part of an Arabic song. Theirs is a musical culture, I realize. They sing spontaneously without hesitation or reserve. Others join in, and a solo becomes a duet or a chorus. It doesn’t matter whether you sing well or not. It only matters that you sing.

Moreover, I’m impressed by how extraordinarily social and trusting Moroccans are. They share taxis with random strangers regularly. They start conversations with these strangers as if they are distant relatives – people they don’t often see, but when they do, there are no formalities or awkwardness. Maybe this is why I feel so much at home here.

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