I took a stroll in Digital Alley this morning on a DVD safari hunt. Digital Alley is one of the winding smaller streets in the medina. There are tables shoulder to shoulder along the walls, some only a table; some with a back shelf for displaying the DVDs. It is lined end to end with DVDs. Some of them have a backstop with shelves equally filled. Every so often for a reason beyond my knowledge there is a Police Raid and you see the owners of the tables storing the DVDs away and out of sight. Now you know the Moroccan police know that theses chaps (all over the city) are hawking DVDs for such a low price as you would not believe so why the pretend raid? A Moroccan version of hide n’ seek perhaps? Q and I were caught up in one of the raids some time back. Watching the owners grab-pack the merchandise and scamper away to the four corners of the medina was a lesson in Moroccan internal politics. An hour later, they were all back and in business.
About a third of the way in the little shops begin, really just big enough to turn around twice. Some are filled with DVD players, some with computers (but never more than one of each) and the third one down on the left has a bit of anything – earphones, televisions, adaptors, wires, cables, and a can opener. As I walk along I am continually hit with the smell of fresh mint. The ladies are walking about with handfuls of fresh mint to take home for tea and it is perfuming the air. Continuing down the street and curving to the left the shops become larger as do the television and computer screens interspersed with furniture shops. As you pass the large furniture store on the right look left, there is a cavernous opening that leads to a Singapore like shopping maze within. It is dark and cool, crowed with shops and people, very few if any tourists here. Stacks of DVDs next to clothing piles circa 1970, then a jewelry shop that has not one but two Paget Philllipe watches. Now we believe they are real eh? All the way from Darvos, retail price of 240, 000 usd. It’s not like they were asking me to believe it was an Excalibur EX 08 from Roger Dubis at 500, 000 usd is it? On the opposite side, as you go further in, the shops become more squished up against each other, is a shop with every sort of Moroccan trinket and in true juxtaposition of medina shopping - hanging next to the chandelier is a mother board. We continued down the cave like hallway to find an opening into a furniture shop time warp. It was for all the world a cheaply furnished 1950 den; although I can’t say it would have been considered in bad taste then. My difficulty is that I need the DVDs in English where most of them are in French or Arabic, albeit more than a few are in German or Russian or Spanish. I have learned from my friend Hussein who has a single table he sets up in the middle of the main medina street at different locals every day, that you can tell the English speaking ones by the tracks on the DVD. We left the shopping maze with six DVDs for less than eight dollars usd.
We bought a microwave as Q wanted it for leftovers and I shall need it when she is gone for any cooking (oh stop laughing) I might do. They sell them at Marjane but Q has a big resistance to buying anything there that we can find in the little shops. “ I don’t want to give money to the big French conglomerate when I could be giving it to the little shop keepers.” And thus we were looking for a microwave in the medina. We found a small one suited to our needs for 350 dirhams. I got my “guarantee” that if it doesn’t work or blows up I can return it. He plugged it in to demonstrate to us the workings and carried it to the roadside so we could get a taxi. We arrived home anxious to give it a go. “Alright then, I’ll just plug it in,” say I. “Uh hummm uh, well bloody hell!”
“What’s the matter Mom?”
“The bloody plug doesn’t fit! It has a European plug.” I scrounged through my two bags of adaptors gathered from years of travel but could find nothing to fit as a converter to Moroccan plugs. Nothing for it but to head out for a hardware shop. After a series of stops at which the very nice men took me out to the sidewalk and directed me to yet another shop I found an adapter, but the wrong one. There was a man standing at the counter talking with the owner. “Come with me.”
“Yes, yes, go with him,” with the shoo shoo motion of the hands.
The nice man walked me down an additional two blocks to another hardware store. I love the smells of a hardware store, wood, oil, and usefulness. The young man was not only lovely but had a bit of English – very helpful that. The plug is the right one, the fly in the ointment is that it only fits one of the plugs in the kitchen – and of course it is not the one we had destined for the microwave. But it does work and that’s fine for now. Inshallah.
Q’s attended a conference on democracy in Morocco where several resolutions were passed; it was broadcast on the BBC.