By Karima Rhanem
When you say ‘Hi’ to a Moroccan these days, he/she will answer ‘it’s freezing’. When you ask him/her ‘how are you’, he/she will tell you ‘I’m cold’. When you want to find out about ‘where they have been these days’, they will answer: ‘in bed, covered with dozens of blankets, coping with coughs, and bad flu’. It sounds as though Moroccans lost their minds with the freezing temperature prevailing in North Africa. The experience shows that Moroccans can not stand cold weather.
It is one of the kind of times many Moroccans have ever experienced freezing weather. Sales of blankets, jackets, coats, and scarves topped this past month, as many Moroccans went to shopping centres to buy warm clothes.
Leila, 40, a mother of four children, said that “everybody at home is sick”. She went on: “my four kids are sick; they got bad flu. There have been sick for more than a fortnight despite medication. We live by the seaside, and you can’t imagine how freezing the weather is.”
She added that her sister, who lives in Canada, used to come during winter time to Morocco because she can not stand freezing weather. “And now she has to put up with this ‘icy weather’,” she said.
Mustapha, a young man in his 20’s, was talking to his friend in front of one the shops in the mall. He told his friend jokingly “I no longer think about emigrating to Europe or Canada, as I dreamt. Look what’s happening in Morocco; it’s so freezing, I can’t imagine what the weather is like in Canada. I would die in the first day. I’d better stay at home.”
Mona, 30, a chemist in the shopping centre’s pharmacy, said that most patients who came these days to buy medicines suffer from flu and bad colds.
Sounds of sneezes and coughs are invading Moroccan streets and homes. You hear them at work, in the train, in coffee shops, in conferences, at home, everywhere. Even in public phone boxes, most telephone conversations are about cold weather, flu and medicines. Words like “Smikli”, “Sam”, “Bard”, “Asamid (in Berber)” (different names describing cold weather) are also commonly used. Some even call it “mout”, which refers to death. People in some Morocco’s remote village were cut off by heavy snow heaps which has paralyzed traffic and blocked roads.
More importantly, Moroccans have now found a new way of breaking the ice. It is simply “how are you doing with the cold weather?” Naughty boys chatting up girls in the street are using freezing weather expressions to open a conversation.
This cold weather is unusual in most of Morocco. It is total hysteria, Moroccans do complain whether be it cold or hot. The experience showed that Moroccans are so “fragile” that they can’t stand a below -1C, which is normal in winter times in European and North American countries.