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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

My day in Casablanca

Street scene in Casablanca on 6th September 2013

- Hey, Noah, over here! -

Being at a loose end on Friday I decided to go for a stroll in Casablanca. Yes I know, it does sound exotic, a stroll is a stroll, but in Casablanca? That's something special. And so it was.

The briefest glance down main streets, side streets and alleyways reveals a great mix of humanity. In mere moments I saw women in burkhas or head scarves, and yet others in low cut Western dresses with no head gear at all. I saw men in jeans and others in long white islamic kaftan garments. I saw Arabs, Europeans, black Africans, Asian Africans, and more.

If the Great Flood were to return I would advise Noah to come to Casablanca. Here you are, Noah, I would say, look no further for your selection. Unknown to them, Noah would single out a few for his giant Arc as diverse representatives of the human species, even as they, unawares of the honour go about their daily business within the narrow confines of this metropolis.

All so different from each other, and so similar. While driving into town I catch sight of a small Arabic child no more than three years old dressed in his immaculate white kaftan, his arms outstretched in greeting. A man (father, uncle, family friend?) sweeps him up in his arms, goes off briefly to greet another adult, and returns and crouches down to speak to him. I see all this but hear no sound through the closed window, as the taxi speeds by.

A while later I am walking briskly through down town Casablanca further and further away from the tourist landmarks. I turn a corner and nearly collide with a little boy, he too dressed in a kaftan. His father, holding the hand of his tiny toddling daughter, beams and smiles at me with pride. I smile back at his handsome Indian features. He is dressed in jeans.

All so different and so similar - children adored and treasured by their parents no matter their race, colour or religion. The human reps of each type on Noah's Arc would be united by many aspirations: earning a crust to survive and maybe prosper, creating a happy family, caring for their children.

These ordinary, even mundane thoughts filled my mind on my walk as the temperature steadily rose through midday. I passed A Night in Casablanca film-type coffee houses, newspaper kiosks, street vendors shouting their wares in rock-hard voices sculptured by years of outdoor activity, serious business men in Western suits, retired men in their muslim hats sitting at pavement tables watching me watching them, young girls in jeans, and families out shopping.

I hope Noah places a huge glass bowl over the scene I have just described and traps us in it (yes, that's me included) on his Arc while sailing full speed ahead to a destination of his own choosing, leaving out all violent and destructive humans. Wouldn't it be good if the common swell of humanity were safely contained this way while a furious few beat uselessly on the outer glass frame? We inside would laugh pointing at their noiseless contorted faces, and looking away hold up our children to behold in wonder the better world towards which we would sail.

6th September 2013, Casablanca

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