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Saturday, 2 March 2013

Moroccan humour or trying it on? Little artisan man

This is where cultural barriers might make it hard to communicate...

Last year (2011) my friend and I spent a w/e in Marrakech and to this day we are still wondering if the guy in the video tried it on or it was really his ‘Moroccan’ sense of humour.

My friend was looking for Xmas presents and wasn’t very impressed with the Moroccan selling style and took the view of approaching and buying only from people/sellers that were not harassing her. 
This is how we came across this artisan, who very quietly was going on with his business in a little alley of the Marrakechi Medina. 
We went around his place of business in the course of two days. Yes, no, yes, maybe, shall I buy it, or maybe not? My friend found the choice of goods available in Marrakech overwhelming and making a decision on what to buy & who for became a major decision-making choice (which was driving me mad!!)... Eventually she decided on some wood boxes.
Goods were checked, price agreed, goods wrapped and paid. Then little artisan man decided to produce a little something which – according to him – was a purveyor of good luck if placed in the bedroom (we never got to discover how it would bring good luck!). I stood aside, not wanting to be a disruptive element in my friend's purchasing process or the carving of such ‘lucky’ charm. 
Once all was concluded, items purchased, charm carved I was all ready to move on. ..But no, little artisan man decided he wanted me to have a lucky charm too; he insisted I sat down next to him and watch him as he was doing the carving. 
My friend and I swapped seats. As I started watching him I thought I might as well make a short video of it. I asked little artisan man for permission to film him and he agreed, so I proceeded to take the video. While he was carving various people passed by and stopped to take pictures. As you will see from the video all was amicable and relaxed.....

(Now watch the video)
You can imagine my shock at his request! Hence the sudden termination of the video as I stood up and left, soon to be followed by my friend – who told me later - had her jaw to the floor by the surprise of the request!

Our next stop was another artisan, known by me for his leather notebooks, and where my friend had decided she was going to purchase some lovely boxes covered in brightly coloured leather. We got to this other shop a few lanes away in the Medina and a few minutes after we got there little artisan man (the one of the wood carving) joined us and gave me the lucky charm he had finished carving in the meantime.  And all seriously he told me "it was all a joke"!

To this day I am not sure if it was a joke or not.   Watching the video and listening to the conversation again, I realised he asked for Euros and not Dirham (Moroccan currency).   So maybe it was a joke. On the other side why not saying something right away as he saw our reaction? And all the time he was ever so serious! I am still not convinced it was a joke....but maybe...? If it was, it certainly show the difference in cultures, even in the way we joke and make humour, as we certainly did not take it as a joke!
You can make your mind up and let me k now what you think.


  1. Perhaps there are some people who would feel guilty enough to pay, he would only need one of those a month to live well and can afford to give stuff away to the others who walk away. Lucky heather missus???

    1. ah, ah!! now i get it...(lucky heather missus)! :-)
      yes, maybe it was just annoying as i had made sure to ask for his permission before filming. He left us with a bitter taste...
      Thank you for your comment.

  2. Well first of all i am moroccan, born and raised. i am not sure of this particular guy's intention, but i can assure you it sounds like moroccan humour. Generally the goal is to make you believe something very unlikely for a while and observe your reaction. However, it does not mean he would not have kept the money if you had given it to him :)
    I hope you enjoyed your trip in Marrakech nevertheless !

    1. Ahoth,
      thank you very much for reading my blog and your comments!
      I am so pleased you have clarified this bit of 'mystery' which definitively had left a sour taste in our minds and hearts.
      I do enjoy Marrakech every time. soon to be back and visit the desert! :-)
      Thanks again and keep on reading and contributing. A