Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Every year Rabat hosts the Mawazine Festival. An International music festival boasting the likes of Kanye West and Shakira. There is African music and Latin music and everything in between. And the best part? It's free! Nothing's free you say? So true, its sung to the tune of 12 million dollar price tag. But that's a whole different post. Or is it? There's only one person I want to see. Like really want to see and that's Yusuf Islam. Don't know him? Yes you do. He's the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens.

The plan is we're going to the Sofitel (the poshest hotel in Rabat), which is right across from the big open field that is the concert venue. After parking the car and having an obligatory glass of wine to pay for our parking sins, we'll simply walk across the street to watch the show. So how does one dress for both a swanky hotel and a not-Cat-Stevens concert?

Classy on the top...

And granola on the bottom. (I'm even adding some extra crunch by not shaving my legs and having stanky feet. See the duality of the flip flop is even though they are so open and breezy, the rubber absorbs odors like a sponge.)

So we head to the Sofitel and get that drink with purchase of a parking space. We discuss really intellectual things like Craig's new concept of googlebation and really not so intellectual things like whether the chick at the hotel bar with her boobs jacked up to her neck and miniskirt also jacked up to her neck is a prostitute because women just don't dress like that here.

It's almost time for the concert to start. And two very strange things don't happen. No one is pushing to get to the front, like the tramplings that killed concert goers at the Mawazine a few years ago. And no men are leering, brushing up against me as they squeeze past or cat calling. Because unfortunatly, that happens to women fairly frequently here. Did I just leave Morocco and enter the Twighlight Zone?

Cat Stevens makes his way to the stage. Everyone cheers. I don't know if you know this, but Moroccans love him. They play his songs in the grocery store and his songs of course are in English. So do they get the meaning of his songs? I question this because I'm the only one grocery shopping listening to Father and Son and crying. And it is impossible not to sob a along to that song if you understand the words! So do they like his music more or the fact that he's now Yusuf more?

He starts playing his old stuff. Everyone's into it.

The he changes into a djellaba, which is a traditional Moroccan dress worn by both men and women (although not at the same time). And poof he's magically transformed into Yusuf Islam. The Moroccans are cheering and loving it. Except Yusuf can't pronounce djellaba correctly which is shocking coming from someone wearing one. Then Sara asks, is it like a kilt? Is he wearing anything under that? I've never thought about that until that very moment. And I now I know why. Ewww.

Yusuf launches into his new songs. I don't know any post Cat Stevens stuff myself. And to my surprise, neither does anyone else! They love Yusuf, but they only listen to Cat? Hmm.

So while Cat-Yusuf-whatever-his-name-is is singing about trees, we start to drift. And there is a faint smell of pot surrounding us. Islam forbids pot smoking right?

We take picture of "sexy chick" who is one of the private boxes reserved for the king and his siblings. Who is she? Wait, is she the prostitute from the Sofitel?

Sing Freebird!

He doesn't...

So we take pictures and ponder which Baldwin brother Craig looks most like.

Please cast your vote:
Stephen (If that is his real name.)

Then we're snapped out of our boredom when he starts the chords to Wild World. Yes, something we know!

And Sara gets a little wild....

He's gotta sing Freebird soon. So we get ready. I whip out our bic lighters, 'cause I'm old school like that. Oh my god, how many non-smokers does it take to light a lighter? It requires so much more coordination than I thought.

This might take a while.

And then we're lit, but probably from the second hand pot smoke. I'm pretty sure this bic lighter thing is gonna catch on with the Moroccans like the wave. After all, how many Moroccans have a lighter? But it doesn't. And lighters get really hot, which is probably why concert goers use cell phones now a days.

And we're ready when Freebird starts. Or Peace Train. Whatever.
Check out the super sweet sway cam...

Call him Cat, call him Yusuf, call him Mr. Duplicity, he's good! Just don't call him the singer of Freebird. Although Freeballin' might be a nice title for a new song...

Challenge Question:

Can you find all the layers of duplicity in this post?

Cultural Norms


1 comment:

Anna and Kim said...

I love Mawazine, and while I realize that's a lot of money for Morocco, I also think there is something so cool and wonderful about the whole event, it's okay.

Craig looks like Stephen. And he doesn't want to look like Alec.


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