by Mona El Hamdani
LOS ANGELES – Morocco’s geographic position enables it to be a major cross-road where different and rich cultures meet and thrive. Over the ages, it has been open to and influenced by African, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and European civilizations and cultures. However, the purpose of this post is not to talk about the diversity of Morocco nor about the different cultural waves that influenced this country. The purpose is more to reflect on my own personal experiences and how I got to know, interact with and learn to appreciate cultures that are foreign form my own, specifically the Indian culture.
Growing up as a young woman in Morocco, I was exposed directly and indirectly to a number of foreign cultures. Movies, television shows, music, pop culture items and languages have been among the major cultural elements that built my perception as a kid and later on as a grown up about countries and peoples beyond my country’s border. These elements have conveyed a tremendous amount of information about the other and helped shape, in a major fashion, the way I imagine and think about people I have never met and things I have never experienced. This continuous cognitive process has conveyed a number of facts about other individuals and groups, but it also unfortunately has built a block of stereotypes and prejudices.
In Morocco, I have come to experience India through two main elements: Bollywood movies and sari fabrics. Looking back a number of years ago, I still remember myself borrowing from one of my friends at college an Indian movie DVD called Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. At that time, and as is still the case today, watching Indian movies was a popular entertainment pastime among many Moroccans. The beautiful actors, the dynamic dances, the bright-colored dresses and the classic love stories made Indian movies a popular and amusing commodity for many Moroccans to buy, rent and exchange. Continue reading