Moroccan Hospitouchlity

It’s seen as a cultural taboo in almost the rest of the world for men to share too much physical contact. But Moroccan men have their own way in expressing close friendship or warm welcome. They touch each other as much and, can be, soulful as possible.

Photo by Ady Nugroho

I understood the real meaning of expression “keep in touch” only when I was in Morocco. Men keep touching, literally, almost all the time everywhere. They show no hesitation in doing so as if no wonder among foreigners witnessing the view. Tourists most likely get the real feeling of getting in touch with local people anyway.

Handshakes and hugs may be acceptable in most countries. But these are not enough in Morocco. Here, they walk arm-in-arm, lean, cuddle, hold hands, kiss cheeks sometimes twice for each cheek. I call it Moroccan hospitouchlity.

I remember one night when I was waiting for a bus at Regent Street in London I saw two young men interacting quite intimately just a meter away from me. It was before I knew the hospitouchlity a la Morocco. They kissed cheeks. One of them wrapped his arm around the other’s waist when they were observing screen on a digital camera. The bus stop was only a stumble away from ‘the red light district’ Soho, so no big question mark in my mind. They looked Moroccan indeed.

The similar sight was seen in a train from Fes to Marrakech, Morocco. Two veterinary students in my compartment cuddled while they were working on statistic exercise. I tended to avoid looking at them but the show was so luring. I was told by a friend beforehand that the highest level of friendship among Moroccan men might be shown by touching and flattering head. They did these gestures too.

Another ‘couple’ mended dream with one head leaned on the other’s shoulder intentionally. They didn’t know each other though.

I am trying to find the correlation between the behavior and happiness. In 2008, research conducted by the University of Michigan’s World Values Surveys placed Morocco in the 67th of the world’s happiest countries.

However, touching bottom is an insulting what so ever in the whole Moroccan land. So I could tolerate so long as they didn’t grab my bumps.

Keep in touch!


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