No, we are not anywhere close to India yet. Still reflecting on Morocco. Funny story about something that happened to us in Marrakech. The souq is a very bustling environment. There are all kinds of sights and sounds that are first very captivating because it is unlike anything we have seen, and eventually it becomes normal. So, when we were walking, I heard a voice calling in our direction, and eventually it occurred to me that I understood what the voice was saying (with Arabic spoken everywhere, it was a shock to realize I understood something).
“Shah Rukh Khan! Eh, Shah Rukh Khan!” That was what I heard. When I turned around- I saw a man pointing at Jos, saying “Shah Rukh Khan!” Jos and I started laughing (Jos does not look like Shah Rukh Khan.) In the meantime, Saaya, who also heard this, got excited, too. She heard her favorite actor’s name, and started looking for “Shah Rukh Khan” not realizing that the man meant “Daddy.” It was all very funny. As we continued to walk, he began to name other actors- “Kareena Kapoor! Kareena Kapoor! ”…
The next day in Casablanca, we went shopping. Saaya was wandering around in a store, and I called out to her in Hindi, “Saaya, aaja. Aaja!” (Saaya, come here. Come!) The store vendor asked me if her name was “Aaja”. I said, no, her name is Saaya. Aaja, means come, in Hindi. His face lit up, and he exclaimed, “OH!! Aaja means come! Like “Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy, aaja aaja aaja!” He was so excited. I laughed. He was referring to a cult classic 80’s disco song from the movie Disco Dancer. He was thrilled to understand the meaning of the song.
As you can tell- Hindi films and music are quite popular in Morocco, and there are posters for movies on random walls and soundtracks for sale on the street.
These moments remind me of my childhood when my parents would see random Indian things or people, and beam with joy if they found a shirt made in India, or an Indian person in an unexpected place. I never fully understood the struggles and loneliness my parents must have experienced when they came to the US as immigrants, with nothing familiar to them. To have that feeling for only a few days, and then have someone offer a tiny connection that reminds you of a piece of who you are, can feel like home in ways I never imagined. The feeling of connection is a really powerful thing for the soul, and while I know that intellectually, it is great to feel and appreciate that in my heart.
I share these stories to point out how I have taken for granted some of the common elements among human beings of all cultures. We all appreciate the smallest connection. While we could not engage in a conversation with either of these men because of our language barrier – an exchange of smiles and laughter over the recognition that we were of Indian descent- was a meaningful connection. There are meaningful connections everywhere, and while that concept is so obvious that we miss it, I cherish this opportunity to be reminded that what is obvious is ubiquitous and profound.