To many, Morocco is “that” place in Africa, which you hear being spoken about as rarely as the word Ailurophile (a cat lover). It isn’t as rare as an Indian-American-Dane who speaks a bit of Mandarin Chinese. Yet I fit inside both topics, being a third culture kid as well as currently residing in the Kingdom of Morocco. Statistically, I am a near impossible feat– a one-man diversity program– yet here I am explaining how all these anomalies shaped the person written below the byline.
Legally, I am of only two nationalities and possess three passports. My U.S diplomatic passport, U.S. regular passport, and Danish passport make for interesting conversations at any immigration counter. I did at one point have a “Person of Indian Origin” (PIO) card, but they cancelled the program. Its only real benefit was getting a significant discount on entry to the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Ethnically, however, is where the countries become a random mix. From my mother’s side I am theoretically 25% American, 12.5% Danish, and 12.5% Swedish. My father’s side gives me 50% Indian ethnicity. Despite these statistics, I still identify myself as an American-Indian-Dane. (Alas, not American Indian.)
Coming from such a variety of backgrounds is quite a jaw-dropper in any situation, yet for me living a “normal” life was never an option. Despite my tri-citizenship I have lived overseas longer than I have lived in India, America, or Denmark combined. And I have my father to thank for such a unique childhood, as he works for the United States Department of State. When I was six weeks old I was swaddled onto a plane to Denmark and since then planes are like a second home to me. Since that flight I have lived in: Philippines, Jordan, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and now Morocco. All these places are so unique and intriguing- I love it!
Morocco, is in a way a country that fits who I embody. It is a country with a variety of landscapes: mountains, beaches, deserts, forests and urban jungles. The soaring Atlas mountains gaze down on most of Northern Africa and into Europe. Agadir and Mazagan all have wonderful 5 star beach resorts which are worth a lot more than the postcard photo. Those who think that they know the country picture the majestic sand dunes with wandering nomads mounted on camels. However that is only in the east of the country where the impressive Sahara looms, slowly expanding.
Perhaps the most fascinating part of Morocco would be its so called “cities.” Now many people have watched the renowned “Casablanca” movie and paint an image of a Las Vegas in the Arab world. Others watched the fifth “Mission Impossible” movie and expect motorcycles to parkour freely through ancient castles. However these “scenes” are nowhere near as close to what Morocco is like, or at least my Morocco.
Morocco is plagued by outsider stereotypes that are derived from fear and hate. Many will say Morocco is unsafe due to the terror threat. Yet as an American (one of the ISIS’s enemies) who eats, sleeps and lives in Morocco, I can bust such a myth. Moroccan people for the most part hate ISIS and any form of terrorism. Though Islam is a huge aspect of life there, the views are more liberal compared to other Arab states. This combined with their 100,000-strong police force equates to a very safe environment for a foreigner living in a major city.
My Morocco, a Morocco through the lens of a privileged teen, is interesting. It encompasses late-night birthday parties at a princess’s beach house, aimless strolling through the notorious “Mega Mall”, and playing late night soccer in the weirdest of neighborhoods. It certainly has its ups and downs, but in a way it is what makes the thrill ride of Morocco so enjoyable. Because despite the enormous drug and smoking problem, the hospitality and generosity of the average Moroccan make life there truly unique.