How fast does the time fly? Morocco vs. London
Why spend all day waiting for the sun to come down?
Here comes Ramadan. Since I’m not Muslim, this update may appear a bit random. But there’s some explanation for my inspiration.
As my phone was probably manufactured in Emirates, there’s a Ramadan reminder in my calendar. This reminder also reminds me of my stay in Morocco a few years ago. Totally unaware, I booked my trip during the Ramadan period, i.e. not the best time for a touristy visit.
I found out on the spot. On the very first day of our stay, me and my travel companion were confused by the fact that all restaurants and most shops were closed.
In the evening an interesting thing happened. We were travelling on the train from Fez to Rabat when a small local boy came up to us and snatched an empty can of Fanta lying on the seat. The boy was trying to drink the very last drops.
His angry mother immediately jumped in our direction and grabbed her unruly son back. A few minutes later, when the clock struck 8 pm, somebody raised an alarm and most travellers threw themselves at their bags. Many people started eating like crazy.
This was our moment of revelation. It was official: Ramadan was on.
Watch vs. sun: time perception in London & Morocco
So I was visiting Morocco in the month of Ramadan. During that special time I often had an impression that the world came to a standstill.
Casablanca was one of my destinations. It was super hot and I remember watching a middle-aged man sprawling his body in front of the Mosque.
Hot days in Morocco seemed very lazy with time passing by slowly and the sun dictating the daily routine. Completely opposite to the hectic London where I lived at the time.
In London the sun doesn’t dictate the daily routine. It’s more about watches and all sorts of devices that put everything and everyone in order.
In London commuters get stuck in traffic jams overground and in a sea of people underground. Generally it takes ages to get to… any place. Thus, every wasted minute can change the whole day into a drama.
If it takes longer than two minutes for the train to arrive, Londoners tend to sense intuitively that the Universe must have interfered with the Tube schedule. If the next train is scheduled to arrive in five minutes, there may be conspiracy theories as to what might have possibly happened underground.
Much as it may sound exaggerated, Londoners are no big fans of waiting. So much precious time is wasted commuting, doing overtime or cutting through hoards of tourists. It seems natural to start calculations.
All wasted minutes add up and we start wondering: are we going crazy?
That was the question I asked myself when my friends from continental Europe came up for a visit. Whilst waiting the ten, never-ending (from my London-perspective) minutes at the bus stop, I spotted info about an sms service I could have used to activate bus updates.
Without much thinking, I hit the ‘send’ button excited to find out when the next bus was due to arrive. A few seconds later when I tried to share my enthusiasm with my mates … it felt strange.
My friends experienced a non-acute form of culture shock that made them think about their own perception of time. For my visiting friends waiting ten minutes for the bus was absolutely OK.
What became of me after having commuted for four years in Central London? A ticking bomb was probably the most accurate description.
In Morocco I perceived time in a completely different way
The dynamics of life in London was obviously different to the one I was experiencing in Morocco where, all of a sudden, I had plenty of time on my hands. Granted that I was on holiday, but my schedule was packed with touristy activities.
In the day I would dash down the streets of Rabat, the labyrinths of Fez and the coast of Casablanca. In the evening I would watch local TV, airing Arabic-subtitled Bollywood films. (Btw, there was also an Arabic version of X-Factor with people singing Koran verses).
All the same, the combination of the scorching sun and Ramadan fasting seemed to have suspended the time. The sun and the heat slowed things down and dictated my daily routines. It was good NOT to see people racing down the streets. Many of them were actually idly lying down in parks to cool their bodies down.
What is better: being semi-immobilised by the scorching sun or enslaved by the watch?
On the one hand, why spend all day waiting for the sun to come down? On the other hand, what’s the point of rushing from A to B, chasing every single minute that we think we may have wasted?
It all boils down to balance.
I was wondering whether it was possible to apply a more relaxed attitude in London where time flies like a jet plane. I believe it’s almost always a matter of choice. For me it was eventually possible to achieve more balance after I left London.
On final note … Morocco: one of my favourite countries for travel
So this was Morocco: a fascinating country of Muslims, mosques, mosquitoes, oriental designs, the sun, markets, fake guides, mountains and amazing Moroccan mint tea.
Here’s a few pics from one of my favourite trips :)