There are hordes of Brazilians in town, waving flags, singing and generally making merry. It turns out that Morocco is hosting the FIFA Club World Cup and the semi finals and finals are happening in Marrakech, What’s more amazing is that a club from Casablanca called Raja has made it to the semi finals, much to the delight of millions of Moroccans. In fact, Raja play Athletico Miniero, the Brazilian club tomorrow night for a place in the finals. There are also thousands of Raja fans in town, mixing it up good naturedly with the Brazilians.
But this invasion of Brazilians has created an interesting twist on our usual identity/nationality situation. So far, we have had mixed success in getting Moroccans to buy our “we are Americans” line. Some people say “ah, America, welcome, welcome” or “Ah, Obama!”, while some others squint at us skeptically, while some others say things like, ” but where is origin? India? Pakistan?”.
But now there is a new game in town. All day today, people have been saying “ah, Brazil!”, nodding knowingly and grinning excitedly about the impending match. For a while, we were caught flat footed, but now we are playing along. “Ronaldinho!”, Rohan shout, fist in the air, him being one of the biggest a stars in world soccer and on the Brazilian team. “Raja!” They shout back. Sometimes, we mess with them. We say “Raja!” to them and watch their faces cloud up with confusion. One time, when an old guy in the Jewish quarter said “Barazil!”, we forgot the game and gave him the straight line, “No, America”. The dude shook his head, wagged his finger, grinning and said, “No, Sud America!”, charming us with his geographical savvy. We gave in, with a shout of “Gallo!”, the Athletico mascot.