|That’s all it takes. Shah, who longs for sunny skies and bright color, packs up his pregnant wife (who has great misgivings about following his dream) and toddler and moves to Morocco where he purchases a house.
This edifice is Dar Khalifa - the Caliph’s house - a crumbling money pit in Casablanca which is believed to be the home of jinns - evil forces, the most evil being a female jinn named Quadisha. In addition to the jinns, who seem to be the reason for everything negative including unscrupulous merchants, incompetent workmen and bad plumbing, the family acquires three guardians - servants who come with the house - Hamza, Osman and The Bear. These three are occasionally helpful but more often burdensome.
Another employee (after the first hire takes the money and runs) is Kamal whose talents include manipulating the black market, haggling in that activity’s highest form and dealing with jinns. The amazing naivete of The Shah family is counterbalanced by the worldliness of Kamal and his cohorts.
Shah’s descriptions of modern Casablanca and the individuals he meets there are riveting. The description of the celebration of Ramadan where everyone has to give up caffeine, nicotine and overindulging and - as a result - goes mad - is horrifying and greatly entertaining. The many workmen who have to show control by doing exactly the opposite of what is asked of them are laugh-provoking and disturbing at the same time.
Perhaps the main fascination of this book is it’s explanation of a culture and of a work ethic totally different from anything many of us are used to - a culture and work ethic which have served civilization for thousands of years. The Caliph’s House may leave you puzzled, bemused, amazed - but never bored.
If you are interested in this book or would like to learn more, contact me at info@bouldercity magazine.com.