In Brooklyn there came the sound of the ice cream truck, maddening in its frequency and cheeriness, a sure way to recognize the summer season if the foul smell of garbage cans and the oppressive heat hadn’t already clued you in. There’s an equally irritating aural villain in my neighborhood in Casablanca: the cd salesman. This gentleman pushes his music cart through Maarif’s busy grid, playing sample songs on a boombox with one loud speaker, hoping to entice nearby Moroccans. His song of choice this week is one for teaching children a blessing: “Bismillah, Bsmillah, in the name of Allah.” I took this for a good luck omen when I first moved in; bismillah is a blessing offered at the beginning of things, climbing stairs, for example, or beginning a meal, or getting into a taxi. But the music is boring. And eerily upbeat. And the singer has the high-pitched voice of a child of indeterminate gender. I’ll take an Egyptian habibi song over this any day of the week. But the very worst part is that each time he passes under my apartment, I hear an internal version of the ice cream truck melody. A particularly gruesome double torture, if you ask me.
And just like that my extended sojourn from this blog is over. I’m back: in Morocco, on the internet, to teaching and to writing. And I’m excited. Maarif, my new neighborhood has a little of everything I loved about living in El Jadida – friendly hanut owners and fresh olives and vegetables down the block, and cafe nus-nus aplenty. But it’s also on the edge of Casablanca’s upscale shopping district. It feels like a nice blend of New York and Morocco, which so far, has made life considerably easier than it was this time last year. I already speak enough Darija to get things accomplished by myself and when I can’t, there’s an incredible amount of proficient English speakers in the neighborhood to help me.
So another year of exploration begins. I hope you’ll join me.