Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Neighbourhoods, Canada vs Morocco

Back in Morocco, a friend told me about a time when she'd misplaced her passport.
She was a stewardess, and thus her passport was necessary for her job. On this particular day, she was already late and had to leave in order to catch a flight. Just when she was at the panic stage, she heard a knock at the door.
She opened the door and saw her neighbour standing there. "I'm kind of busy!" she said.
"Are you missing something?" her neighbour asked.
She responded with a puzzled look.
"I found this in your garbage." The neighbour held up the passport.

On the one hand, my friend was relieved to have her passport back. But she was a little weirded out by the fact that one of her neighbours had a habit of rummaging through her garbage!

In Canada, unless you are under investigation, it is highly unlikely someone is going to go through your garbage. In Morocco, apparently, it's the norm.

I've never been the friendliest neighbour. I'm not unfriendly, but I won't go out of my way to get to know the people living around me. I'll say hello, comment on the weather, but I'm not the bake-a-cake and smile on the doorstep kind of person. In the movies, those people turn out to be weirdos - don't they?

Judging by the receptions I've gotten, most other people are just like me, both in Morocco and in Canada.

Neighbourhoods are more open in Canada. The front yard is rarely if ever fenced in. Lawns are something of a competition. The nicest flower beds, the tallest trees, the best Christmas lights. There is a significant importance placed on the appearance of one's front yard.

In Morocco, it's the opposite. The wealthy have big fences surrounding their yards, and the their lots can be anywhere from very nice to a catastrophe. It's not uncommon to see a neighbourhood lined with house after house in need of a paint job and a good gardener, or a lot littered with garbage.

On the other hand, in Morocco, its what's inside that counts. Someone's appartment building, or home, might be a shambles from outside, but their reception room is often immaculate and clean, well decorated, lined with nice furniture and as big and fancy a carpet as the family can afford. They are also immaculately devoid of junk laying around - a place for everything and everything in its place.

Not so much in Canada. If a house is a little untidy, the end of the world isn't near.

Moroccan apartment buildings have concierges. All apartments in Morocco have at least one, and usually two or three for various shifts.

They are paid, but tend earn most of their money through running errands for families and helping out with carrying groceries and washing cars.

We're in Canada now, with neighbours I'm just getting to know. This is not something against them, but hopefully whom I won't be around them for too much longer. I look forward to getting a job and getting our own house.

I write a test for a provincial gov't position on Wednesday.

Wish me luck, and after that, I hope to find some good neighbours.