The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca


Unwilling to raise his two infant children in England, Tahir Shah drags them and his Indian-born wife to Morocco, where he traveled as a child. It was there that his grandfather, the savant Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah, passed the last decade of his life (he moved to Tangier after his wife died in 1960, declaring that he would go to a land where he had never been together). Shah's father was equally obsessed with Morocco, largely it seems because it reminded him of his native Afghanistan, in terms of the culture, climate and geography.

Arriving in 2004, Shah and his family move into a Jinn-filled mansion in the middle of a Casablanca shantytown. The house, named Dar Khalifa, (which translated as 'The Caliph's House), describes in detail the highs and lows of the relocation to what was essentially an unfamiliar country. The house came equipped with three hereditary guardians, who control every facet of life, straining to remind the Shahs of the danger of the Jinn. Eventually a grand exorcism was acted out, with the slaughter of animals and so forth, to the delight of the guardians.

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