Himalaya: Listen. Learn. Grow.
As a Fulbright, I can not live without certain necessities. The top three: The stipend. Shelter. Interweb (commonly referred to as ‘the internet’). Food? Debatable, especially considering my culinary abilities. Clothing? How cold can Morocco get? Right? The stipend and shelter come easily. To access our monthly stipend, all I do is enter a 14-digit alphanumeric code into my top-secret Fulbright decryptor ring to uncover another 48-digit alphanumeric code, which I deliver to the ‘banker,’ at a predetermined time and location. I then exchange a ‘challenge’ and ‘password,’ confirming my identity and giving me access to a key that self-destructs within 24-hours unless I unlock a door hidden deep within the quaint and charming medina of Fes. Then I get my money. As for shelter, I usually hedge my bets on the fact that there is at least one other Fulbright out there who has his or her respective housing arrangement in order. Right now, I am lucky enough to be one of them. Plus, Moroccans are extremely hospitable. The internet, however, is by far the most inaccessible, unreliable, and intangible of life’s necessities here in Morocco. The Interweb Cometh To acquire the interweb here in Rabat, the numerous Maroc Telecom salespersons I dealt with required me to furnish: My residency permit (the receipt, in my case). A copy of my housing contract. My precious time. If you too desire the internet from Maroc Telecom, you might also be required to furnish, on top of the latter requirements: Your passport -- because one form of identification is never enough. Two passport size photos -- because they may need copies of your beautiful face. A copy of your grandmother’s birth certificate -- just because it would be practically impossible to get this document in a reasonable amount of time. (And hey, why not?). After I established myself as a suitable and legitimate client, my housemate, Ryan, and I browsed the various Maroc Telecom interweb plans. We decided on a speed of 2 Mb, or as we say, “Jouge mega.” (With emphasis, please). Some of the other Fulbrighters settled on 1 Mb (wahid mega), or even 512k like our friend, Sam... please. Ryan and I require raw internet power to navigate that galaxy out there, and we will not be cruising at 512k in a world without speed limits. Unfortunately, we could not afford 100 Mb (mia mega). “But let’s be serious here,” Ryan and I wondered, “is 100 Mb even possible?” We doubted the fact that we would even receive 2 Mb. Realizing our significant purse constraints, Ryan and I decided on the economical -- yet practical -- 2 Mb. And following a series of negotiations at various Maroc Telecom offices across the city of Rabat (because what else did we have to do except take taxis around Rabat all day, dragging my friend Jon with me on his first visit to Morocco), we acquired the internet. To emphasize the importance of this moment, I will simply write it again, in caps. WE ACQUIRED THE INTERNET. But even then, that world beyond the misty shores of Morocco remained inaccessible. We had the means -- we had acquired the internet -- but we had yet to harness its awesome power. Still waiting for the cometh part... So there we were... waiting. Sorry I can not paint a more elaborate picture in prose, but there was not much to our house yet aside from the mold or broood growing on the walls, and lets face it -- we could not decipher the interweb. It might be helpful to think of our situation in terms of ‘The Matrix.’ Ryan and I, respectively were some version of Neo. We needed our Morpheus to teach us the ways of the Matrix. Maroc Telecom -- the Agents. Our Morpheus appeared in the form of a chatty Maroc Telecom technician. He, in fact, was a sub-contractor, so do not confuse him with an Agent. Our loquacious friend simply dragged a line off the roof and shoved it through our window. After that maneuver, we were supposed to have internet. “It will come in three days,” he said. Contemplating the biblical significance of thi