In Casablanca you will expect buildings to be white, based solely on the city’s name, which translates to ‘white house’. But there will hardly be a truly white building in sight. How odd is it to call a city a house? Once you spend a little time in Casablanca, it will make perfect sense.
In Casablanca, everyone you meet will know that one Moroccan guy you met ten years ago in another country, on the other side of the world. Like Cairo, Casablanca is a place where everyone inevitably knows everyone else, no matter how large the city becomes.
In Casablanca, a lovely lady will stop you on the street to tell you that your shoelaces are untied, and everyone you meet will refer to you as khoy or ‘my brother’.
Orange juice is always fresh in Casablanca, never out of a box. Street-food will be your cuisine of choice. It will be fast, but never junk.
Names will often be abbreviated in Casablanca. McDonald’s will become McDo, and Casablanca will, of course, be called Casa.
In Casablanca, a man will be lining up brand-name sunglasses on a cloth laid out on the sidewalk. He will only appear after midnight to appeal to the hardcore knock-off aficionado.
Steps away from the sunglasses man will be a group of young boys playing soccer with passion. Watching them will be a mixed crowd at the salon de thé across the street. In Casablanca, people always like to sit facing the street.
On your way with a friend to a restaurant for a late night meal, your friend will receive a call then suggest going to a bar instead. You will arrive at the bar to see who he received the call from, and understand immediately that he prefers the company of beautiful Moroccan women.
Drinks with him and his lady friend will last a good three hours. You will forget about your growling tummy, thanks to the sound of Pink Floyd’s The Wall blasting away inside the bar, followed shortly by – of course – some Jimmy Hendrix.
In Casablanca, there will always be someone with impeccable musical taste at the bar, and he or she will take control of the jukebox machine like a hero.
Casablanca is the only place in the world where, inside the bar, a portrait of a young Sean Connery will hang beside one of Farid El Atrash – something French patrons will never ever understand.
There is no shortage of French people in Casablanca, all of whom will get preferential treatment over any Moroccan citizen, no matter how wealthy or connected they are. In Casablanca, post-colonialism looks little different to plain old colonialism.
Conversations at your table will be a mix of French, Arabic, English, Darija, and Egyptian Aameya. Multiculturalism takes on a whole new meaning in a place like Casablanca.
At the bar in Casablanca, your table will be approached by an old man who will proceed to shake everyone’s hand, one after the other. After a short exchange, he will walk away, and you will discover that no one at the table has any idea who he is.
Also at the bar in Casablanca, you will see the dopplegänger of every person you ever met in Cairo, but you will also see people of whom, you are sure, you will never see the likes again.
In Casablanca, the late night sandwich spot near the bar will have an item on the menu labeled ‘Big Mac’. It will be five times cheaper than an actual Big Mac, but contain ten times more beef.
In Casablanca, you will be thankful that you live near the Institute Francais because every petit taxi in the city will know exactly how to get to the Institute Francais.
When you arrive home late at night in Casablanca with a belly full of food and drink, half a dozen cockroaches the size of your face will welcome you. You will attempt to stomp on them but they will joyfully run around your feet, and giggle profusely – until they get bored and scurry off into nooks and crannies you will never ever reach.
You will lay awake in your bed fearing for your life until exhaustion has its way with you and puts you to sleep.
You will hear evil giggles in your sleep. They will become so pronounced that they wake you. And right in front of your eyes, a real live cockroach will be giggling in your face with real live giggles.
You will not be able to sleep again and will spend the rest of the night writing about the amazing day you had in Casablanca.
Ganzeer is a maker of Concept Pop, a kind of cultural insurgency that can be seen in his wide-ranging output: installations, prints, paintings, videos, objects, guerrilla actions in public spaces, writing, and comics. Born in Cairo, Egypt, he now resides in Denver, Colorado, where he is hard at work on a beast of a graphic novel, The Solar Grid, which won him a Global Thinker Award from Foreign Policy magazine in 2016. The illustration above is his.