I recently watched a video on TED called “This is Broken”. It’s about things that are broken, simple everyday things, mainly pertaining products and business models: a rebate that’s too hard to cash in or missing your plane because there were not enough signs at the airport to direct you to the right terminal. In fact, the speaker, Seth Godin, was inspired to start his website www.goodexperience.com after trying to catch an a cab from an airport. There were 75 people waiting in line to catch a cab, and 75 cabs, and it took an hour, he says.
As I was watching the video I couldn’t help telling the screen: brother you ain’t seen nothing! I kept waiting for him to come up with some really good bad examples. Gimme the juicy stuff. I want my mind to be boggled, I want to laugh and cry because it’s so bad it’s awesome, I want revel in the sheer brokenness of our products and systems.
But he never quite hit his stride, in my very humble opinion. That is why I’m very humbly offering to help him out here. After all I am indebted to him for my newest favorite catch line, say it with me, this is broken!.
If this sounds like a rant, it’s not (entirely). And it’s not about Morocco per se. There are broken things everywhere, I just happen to live in Morocco so naturally the things on my list are, well, things that exist in Morocco. And I hope you appreciate the subtle difference that I’m trying to underline here: this is not Morocco-bashing, it’s systems that I encounter in my every-day life that I feel could be improved. I love Morocco so dearly and am so grateful for every blessing that I receive here. Not about to turn all that on its head just for a measly blog post.
This is Broken. My Own Personal Top 10 List.
(ok not really the TOP 10, just randomly generated off the “top” of my head)
10-Sidewalks. No really, they’re literally broken. Or too narrow to walk on (2 feet is just enough to walk single file, so very convivial). Or over-planted in such a way that leaves no space for us to walk.
Simple solution: pass a law that requires each homeowner to maintain their bit of sidewalk in good repair, unobstructed and free of plants.
9-The lines that were painted in the middle of the road. My husband and I were driving down one of the main streets in Marrakesh. The dashed lines dividing the avenue into lanes had been freshly painted a nice cheery yellow(in preparation for the Royal visit). A small marker had been placed on every other dash. The dashes that did not have a marker had ALL been smeared with yellow tire marks shooting out of them.
Simple solution: paint the lane dividers at night. Or close off one of the lanes so people would not keep changing lanes.
8-Birth certificates. Every time I need to prove my children’s ages, I need to produce a recent copy of their birth certificates. The copies expire after 2 months. And since we lived in different parts of the city when each child was born, they are each registered at a different muqata’a. That’s a day spent running around town with my family book, hoping that the clerk will not say those dreaded words: come back this afternoon to pick it up. (I am guilty of blog recycling on this one, I wrote about it in one of my first posts ever)
Simple solution: A photocopy of the family book should be enough to prove their ages. And birth certificates should never, ever expire.
7-Car got towed. First of all, never park on Jema el Fna square, no matter how many other cars are parked there, and no matter if an official gardien assures you it’s ok. It’s most assuredly not. Nothing is more deflating that spending a morning in the souks, happily browsing around, haggling, filling your bags with all the pretty things you found, la la la…then walking to your car…or the place you are sure you left the car, which is now gapingly car-free!
There is nothing to be done but spend the next two hours in a cab going to the all the right places. First stop will be the towing lot, la feraille, because I’m (I mean, you’re) the kind of person who leaves her car papers in her car. During the taxi ride you can make “the phone call of shame” to your husband and tell him that the car got towed. When he asks where you were parked, you suddenly wish the taxi would drive out of cell range. Hubby is both sympathetic and irritated. Not nearly as irritated as you will be by the time this is over. Once you retrieve your car papers, and brace yourself cause this is the hard part, you have to wrench yourself away from your car (you were so close, you even sat in it for a minute and it felt so right). Then you catch another taxi back across town to the central police station. Are you still with me? It’s exhausting even in funny-blog-format. At the police station you pay your fine (only 25 dollars, now that’s not Broken), then catch your last taxi ride back to la feraille, were you and your car are finally reunited. Sitting in cabs for the last couple of hours makes you appreciate your own wheels oh so much. Pick up life where you left off.
Simple solution: Can’t we pay the fine at la feraille?
6-Cocotte. My pressure cooker is going to kill me. Oh the cocotte-minute, Moroccan cooking pot of choice. It’s fast, cheap and easy (because it cooks food faster, it uses less energy). The big bummer: these pressure-cookers are made of aluminum, a powerful neurotoxin that has already been linked to Alzheimers.
Simple solution: As in most cases, the older ways were better. Nothing beats cooking in an unglazed clay tajine pot. Pile your meat and veggies in and let is slow-cook, preferably on a charcoal fire. No neurotoxins, the onions caramelize and stick to the bottom (mouth-watering), and best of all, you can eat out of the same dish you cook in. Amount of dishes to do: one.
Look out for part two of this post coming soon…in which I reveal the rest of my top 10 list. Sorry if you feel cheated, I know, I say top 10 list, and it’s only 5. So sorry for the false advertising and all. I like to keep my posts under 1000 words is all. There will also be a brief analysis of why things are broken. And because I’m really more of a glass half-awesome type of person, I promise to palliate all this ranting with My Life: A Good Experience. My Personal Top 10 List. (will this top 10 list also only have 5 items? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on how many I can come up with at a time and how concisely I can enumerate them. No promises).
Coming soon…insha Allah.
9 thoughts on “This is Broken. My Very Own Top 10 List.”
Assalaamu alaikum sister,
just as you said, you made me laugh and well, feel like screaming into my pillow. Somehow it reminded me of my own dealings with authorities in my country (Czech Republic). But as I like to try to understand other peoples inperfections, I’d say in their defence that perhaps they are just too, hmmm… tired? Well reading this post of yours made me appreciate one thing, our birth certificates never ever expire, so I still have my thirty or so years old almost transparent peace of paper stating that I was born in the Socialist Republic of Czechoslovakia. It’s a genuine peace of antique and I love it. And it also reminds me of the fact, that I am one of the lucky ones, whose destiny was altered by the velvet revolution and there is no more socialism there and I’ve been able to travel (just one of the things that people can now while they couldn’t then) and read and breathe a bit more freely than my parents could. ALHAMDULILLAH. Can’t wait for the second pard of your blog.
May Allah bless you
it is possible to love something that’s complicated or more or less broken very, very much. in some strange way, it fills life with life more than all the things “perfect”. And very often makes you smile. later …)
Ahh, Morocco…you’re bringing back memories of random acts of chaos…hold on, Spain is almost exactly the same!! OK, so we don’t have donkey carts holding up traffic anymore…which is a shame, in some funny sort of way. But the bizarre and silly and frustrating events that rub shoulders with ‘normal’ people and ‘normal’ happenings are what make it so much fun living outside of the slightly more functional yet infinitely duller north of Europe. Thanks for reminding me why I don’t really mind all the broken stuff where I live, and thanks for the pingback, too! Your blog is definitely more than half-awesome! xxx
AHGHHHHH the birth certificates. Who ever heard of such a thing as an expiring birth certificate? Seriously do people just cease to exist that their births didn’t occur…oh wait…. I mean come on!!!!
I too have been greatly amused by some of the ways of Moroccan bureaucracy – although I like the way some places still close for lunch and shops stay open later in the evenings. My favourite is the pavements – even when they’re wide enough or not occupied by small trees, they’re too high to get on or off easily, especially if you have a buggy. So people just tend to walk in the road. But then who am I to comment? I live in a country that encourages mothers to put children as young as 3 months old in daycare 5 days a week from 8am to 6pm. And where you routinely see ‘health and safety’ signs in the workplace, such as ‘Beware – hot food’ on a microwave… Or where old people die alone at home and nobody realises for 3 weeks. Our society is in some ways broken!
Hello my dear – Now straight to the point – get rid of your aluminium cocotte, and berad, and any other aluminium pots and pans and get you to Marjane with a wad of money! You can buy them all in “inox” and stop the dreaded Alzheimers in it’s tracks. Now you don’t have a Moroccan mother-in-law ((sadaaaatak)) to give the old pots and pans to so you’ll just have to put them in the bin and let the night recyclers have a ball.
Expiring birth certificates? Yes, It is the French influence unfortunately! My French birth certificate expires every 3 months I think.
Ah, yet another wonderful vestige of French presence! You all left some good stuff, roads, hospitals, infrastructure, etc. But you also left us bureaucracy and French spelling!