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Ahmed rushes into the house in his usual adolescent larger-than-life manner. He disturbs Grandma’s, Shumishas and mine after lunch peace when he announces that the time had changed last night. He takes off the clock from the wall and puts it an hour ahead. Grandma and Shumisha angrily ask him what he is doing and he again, somewhat impatiently, explains that the makhzen (a term Moroccans used for anything and everything connected with the government) “zad shi sa3a” (lit. added an hour – turned to daylight savings time). I thought it was weird that no-one was informed about it and that it would be done on a week day rather than during the weekend when people have time to adjust to the hour difference. I sent a message to Derek to check on the internet what current time in Morocco was. It was still ‘tqddimt’ or the old time – which is the term but more importantly the reality it creates that I’m trying to get used to now and am having a hard time with as the time indeed changed to daylight savings the following night.
Shumisha barely shrugged her shoulders saying that nothing would change. “What do you mean nothing will change?” I asked somehow confused. She answered “people here don’t pay attention to this. They will do their chores and daily activities according to the old time.” “Eh?” was the only thing I could mutter as at that time I wasn’t fully aware of what this ‘business-as-usual’ attitude will bring into my life. Soon enough, however, I figured the consequence of me living in the tjddid (new time) whereas everyone else was living in the tqddimt. On Sunday morning I went to the internet cafe at 10am as I usually do only to find the streets more or less deserted and the cafe still very much closed. The next day I had a scheduled interview with a teacher at 10am. I realized later that there was no point in me getting up early to have breakfast and get ready only to find the house still sleeping and me roaming around as if in the middle of the night and of course to come to the appointed interview an hour earlier. On Tuesday I wanted to go to my ‘aerobics’ class which I attend with some other local women three times a week but was warned beforehand that the other women will most probably come according to the old time, and not new time. I was confused. Why this revolt to change the time? It’s only one hour. “People are used to one time and there is no way that they will change their daily routines and get up an hour earlier every day,” tried to explain to me a friend of mine. “But,” I protested “it’s only today that they may feel the difference, tomorrow it will be like it was the old time.” “No,” she said “they won’t get used to the time difference.” I dropped the issue as I thought it was meaningless, thinking about all of my recent time adjustments – Morocco to the UK when the UK was already on daylight savings time but Morocco wasn’t (plus one hour), from the UK to Texas (minus 7 hours), from Texas back to the UK (plus seven hours), and then from there back to Morocco (minus 1 hour) (I beg you – ignore my carbon footprint, I’m really trying to compensate in other areas! Really!). But I would be lying to you if I told you that it is not frustrating. I feel like I’m living in two time zones simultaneously. Whereas official institutions, including schools, operate according to the tjddid (note however, that people in their free time still act according to the old time as the missed appointment with the teacher showed – he does start his classes according to the new time but does everything else according to the old time), local merchants, mosques (praying times), and women run according to the tqddimt. I run according to both – my watch is set to the new time, I get up according to the new time and I go to sleep according to the new time. Everything else in between I do according to the old time. I complain as well as locals do. For all of us this new time only created confusion. But whereas I see it as “why don’t we all just run according to the new time?” they will respond “well, why do we have to change the time at all?” They don’t see the consequence of such behaviour for those members of the family who work for an official/government institutions – be it a teacher, or a clerk in the post office, or for children who attend school. This parallel time deprives them of one hour of sleep EVERY day because they have to get up according to the daylight savings time but go to bed according to the ‘local’ time – dinner, namely, is now in my house, served at 11:30 pm new time instead of 10:30 pm new time. And no-one complains (except me). You may ask why don’t I just go with the flow – well, I would if I didn’t have to catch a bus for Marrakech and if I didn’t have to deal with government employees on a regular basis. Not to mention that tqddimt is now only a local construct. Does it really exist? Or is tjddid only my construct? Which one is reality? Can both exist at the same time without constantly figuring out which one is the real one? Instead of code-switching, we have time-switching…
I couldn’t help but notice in this story that women, and not men, dictate time within the house. It is 9 am when women get up and not when their husbands or brothers have to be at work or in school. And it’s time for dinner when they’re hungry and not when the male members (or children of school age) have to go to bed to get enough sleep. Households really are female ‘run’ and this parallel time seems to me to be only another indication of who creates this home atmosphere and dictates time in this pre-Saharan oasis community.
In three-months time, however, before Ramadan starts, makhzen will ‘take this hour back’ and people will, as if nothing happened in the mean time, continue to calculate their time according to positions of the sun and not according to numbers on their wall clocks. Is it really worth changing time for a few months at the expense of people’s confusion?

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6.05.2010 15:15 in označeno , ,  | Komentiranje onemogočeno | Permalink