15 April 2011

Overheard in Rabat

Many times, I feel like my life here in Rabat is as far removed from my life in the blad (countryside) as life in New York is removed from life in small-town Midwestern America. And in honor of that, I would like to post a conversation I over heard on the train coming back from Casablanca to Rabat. My passport is almost full, and so I took a day trip to this fabled city to apply for a new one… I’ll try to write more about Casa and Moroccan Border Police in other entries, inchallah.

It’s a simple conversation, but really reveals a typical 20-something Moroccan girl and her relationships with boys and how that affects her and her family.


Scene: The commuter train from Casa Port to Rabat Ville. I was facing forward, and behind me to the left were sitting four girls, two across from two.

These were Rich Girls. With heels… and not just ANY heels, but 4” or 5” studded pumps. They wore tank tops, and had the right (real?) brands of purses, jeans, sunglasses, etc. One was wearing animal print, another a trucker hat.

The girl in the far left corner answered the phone, and had the following conversation. I’ve put the original language in quotes, with my translations to the side.

[phone rings – Turkish music ring tone]

“’Allo?” (Hello?)

“3likom salam” (And peace be upon you - second half of a common Muslim greeting)

“Kifash? Ma-kan-sm3akch” (Sorry? I can’t hear you.)


[phone rings again]


“Labas.” (I’m fine)

“La nta li ma3ndkch rizo.” (No, your phone doesn’t have service)

“La, sm7li, masm3atkch mzyan.” (No, sorry, I can’t hear you)

“Shno???” (What???)

“La” (No)


“Wa sd3tini, why do you keep calling?” (You’ve bothered me - literally, "you’ve 'noise-ed' me")

“Blatti, dar kay-3iyto liya” (Wait a sec, my parents are calling me)


“Oui Baba” (Yes Daddy)


“Ana f Agdal” (I’m in Agdal – a region of Rabat. The train had barely left of Casa)

“La ma-msayliach daba.” (No, I’m not free now.)

“La ma-9drch nji.” (No, I can’t come.)

“Safi, ntlaqaw f la gare.” (Ok, we’ll meet at the train station.)


“Oui Baba, bien sur. D’accord. Safi.” (Yes Daddy, of course, okay, alright.)


[phone rings again]


“Labas.” (I’m fine.)

“Naharach? La, gadi nkon f Turkey simana jaya.” (What day? No, I’m going to be in Turkey next week.)

“Yes, Turkey.”

“I’m going with my girlfriends.”

“Private school.”

“Me too.”

“I told you, khams ayam.” (five days)

“La machi Istanbul. Antalya Beach Resort.” (No, not Istanbul.)

“Ah, zwin.” (Yes, it’s beautiful.)

“By plane. Jat chi khamsa ou 3arbaiyin minute b tiyara mn Istanbul.” (It’s about 45 min from Istanbul by plane.)

“Oui, free time.”

[Here she goes into some long drawn-out discussion in a Darija-French mix about her degree in English literature and how she wants to work and not study anymore. I kind of space out. Her father calls again. The the boy calls back. But I pay attention again when I hear her go, “What did you say??” in English.]


[phone rings]


“3awd shnu galti liya.” (Say again what you said before.)

“Matkonch 3ndk tiqa z3ida f nfs.” (You don’t have a lot of self-confidence.)

“I’m not selfish.”

“La.” (No.)

[long pause – I thought the phone went out again, but not so.]

“Na’am? La.” (What? No.)

“La. Ou duk l message li sifti liya, kunti wld nnas, mat-sift liya-ch dukchi.” (No. And that message you sent me, if you were a good guy – literally “son of the people” – you wouldn’t have sent that.)

[Long pause]

“DHktini.” (You make me laugh.)

“Zid.” (Go on.)

“Ah, meskin.” (Yes, poor you.)

“Deja.” (Already.)

“Walou bin ana ou yah.” (There’s nothing between me and him.)

“No, I promise, walou.” (Nothing.)

[Long pause]

“Kat-3iyit ou nqt3ak ou kat3yit ou nqt3ak ou… safi. Ma-fhmtich ach bghit ngolik?” (You call and I hang up on you and you call and I hang up on you and… enough. Don’t you understand what I’m trying to say to you.)

“Kont kan-t3asha.” (I was having dinner.)

“Sd3atini.” (You bothered me.)

“Bzaf.” (A lot.)

“Safi. Ok. I’ll call you later. Bye bye.” (Alright.)

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