Enjoy yourselves, enjoy each other... pray for peace and justice... pray for ecstasy and light...
Moroccan Arabic learning, pass one
Learning Moroccan Arabic was as simple as leaving the United States, moving into an area of Morocco whose distance was furthest from Anglophones and then becoming so sick that the only way of getting better would be to speak the demotic language.
I tried to learn Arabic before leaving for Morocco; writing songs using Conversaphone Arabic phrases, copying the Quran by hand, picking up a few phrases from Moroccan American mates. These methods kindled the idea that I would eventually speak Arabic, while not really providing me with much more than unintentionally comedic material for my Moroccan audiences. The times in which accelerated learning took places were in the moments I couldn’t escape the language. When I lived in the bidonville-like area of Fes Jedid, my neighbors and growing group of friends had no English or French in their repertoire. I needed Arabic to make myself understood, and even my hand signals never seemed to mean the same things. Moroccan corner shops have all of their items behind a counter, and so are different from the stores in the West were you hand pick your items, have them scanned and leave without saying a word. Every item must be ordered with one’s voice and there are no queuing rules; you speak up or else wait all day. I think I had dysentery, so the race to being understood was on. I finally managed to control my sickness by learning how to order my bread, bottled water, and Imodium. I considered an extra special day when I could purchase my items at the right price. An unusual thing began to happen; at night, I would dream in Arabic. Even more unusual was that I would wake up with an impaired ability to think in English, and instead, I was thinking in some form of half-understood “daraja”, the colloquial Arabic of Morocco.
Hajj Mohamed BineBine Dies To This World
My dear friend and brother Rachid took me to his family home in Rabat one night. We spent time looking at my creative work, his creative work (you might have seen on your way into Morocco - it's the entire rebuilt, modern Casablanca Airport Terminal, Mohammed V) and his family life, which seemed rather smart - considering the amount of brothers, half-brothers, and sisters that were being taken care of in some form or another while maintaining what appeared to be an estate half the size of Rabat. It was then that Rachid told me his father, Hajj Binebine, was a teacher of Islamic law, jurisprudence to the King of Morocco. And that was all of them in recent history: King Mohammed V, and King Hassan II and King Mohammed VI.
When I later met his father, Hajj Binebine, I couldn't see that he was infirm. I saw him as virile, sharp, sensitive to all conversation, funny... even now, I can't remember that he couldn't stand up at the time. I remember his light-heartedness combined with an ocean's depth, his jolliness combined with his power.
Rachid told me one of things the King (well, all of them) loved about Hajj Binebine was that he spoke to them in the language of family, father/son, friend - in a language of equals which is a hallmark of Islam when realized.