Friday, February 26, 2010
Among my Moroccan acquaintances, I have observed masters at the art of deflection …especially when it comes to arguing. And if the person doing the deflecting happens to feel he or she is wrong, their artful ways increase to a truly awesome level.
For example, recently, the children of a neighbor were caught red-handed taking things off my terrace. When the mother came to apologize, she asked to speak to my husband. Eventually he went to her house and an argument ensued. Despite being 100% in the wrong, she turned the ‘discussion’ into my husband having said a bad word. And while I can only imagine the exchange, for I wasn’t there, it’s typical of how arguments go here. Accuse someone of doing wrong and if you are correct in your accusations, expect to be accused of something yourself. Or, failing that, the conversation is going to go ‘round and ‘round in circles in the hope that the original point will soon be forgotten or a different grievance will take its place. A grievance in which your adversary becomes the wronged party. It’s quite an art. One must be diligent in holding on to the original point and must resist the temptation to engage in an all together different argument to make any headway.
The keynote here is the best defense is a good offense, although often the offense argument is completely off the subject. But that doesn’t matter. The point is to get the wronged party tangled and twisted up in a different scenario as quickly as possible. If you are not aware of this tactic, you can naively start to defend yourself or begin to argue an altogether different point and find yourself in a shouting match about something completely off the original subject. And eventually, you might find yourself doing or saying something that justifies their feigned indignation. Then you are wrong. Masterful!
Indeed, arguing or creating a scene seems to be a kind of entertainment here. Life in the Medina can take on a sultry routine and to shake things up a bit there is nothing like a good, public rant or argument to spice up the day. You can choose to be an impartial observer, or you can rush to the aid of one party and thereby put yourself in the thick of things, or you can wait and see how things proceed, then choose sides and create a whole new fracas if you wish.
Returning home last night I was walking down Talaa Kbira when shouting suddenly began. I looked back up the street to see a very large man take off his shirt, start swinging it around and shouting at the top of his lungs and flailing his arms wildly. It took about 2 seconds for a very large crowd to gather. Some ran to either calm down the perpetrator or egg him on. Probably the latter as things had been pretty quiet. In true Moroccan fashion I stopped to gawk at the fray. A tide of people continued to rush past me to get a ringside view of the proceedings. Of course nothing came of it. It stopped almost as quickly as it began. It was just a fleeting moment of homespun diversion from everyday life.
What makes it all so tolerable is that one minute you witness tempers rising and you think a lifelong enemy has been made. Then, in a very short time, everything is forgotten and the person you were arguing with is your best friend again.
Posted by Water Dragon at 2:21 PM