Thursday, 3 May 2007

The undoing

Quite obviously part of the problem with getting rid of the gnats is that I have been spelling it incorrectly! bugger! The housekeeper is here today. Once she has done her cleaning gig I am going to spray the area where they seem to be congregating. Perhaps a social or political group of some genre? After spraying I shall hoof it up to the terrace to breathe for a while...

You really haven't experienced a foreign language (and Moroccan Arabic is separate from Standard Arabic, indeed its own language) until you try to explain duties to your housekeeper. I love our housekeeper. She is a lovely woman who lives just a block or so away and complements me on my struggling Dariga (Moroccan). The real challenge came in March when I had to explain my altar and its restrictions and upkeep. One of the most strict rules of Islam is no "images". I am a Buddhist. We are really big on images, statues, prayer flags (on the terrace, but tiny), and photographs of His Holiness the Dali Lama. She is fabulous about the whole thing. The funniest thing is when she lines up in order and places carefully my sticks that are left after the incense burns! She is always so proud, showing me each time how she has lined them up! I have not the heart to tell her they go in the trash so I now have a real surplus of - sticks. She is slowly but with heart and no complaints learning the difference between 'Moroccan clean" and 'British clean' and then 'my clean'. I'll give you a hint, when my daughter was wee she called me Mrs. Tiddlemouse. Enough said.

I am replacing the furnishings in the house week by week. It was quite good enough for transient Fulbright and college students staying only for a few months which is what Abdul rented it for before my arrival in March. After long discussion, and much reiteration on his part, we signed a lease for a year. Apparently in Morocco as long as you rent short term there is no tax, but if you have a long term tenant there is a tax. Hence his concern that once he paid the tax I would stay giving him the benefit of long term rent. Oh, and on that note ask me how much I love my landlord. When the Baby leaves for NYU in August he is LOWERING the rent by 500 dirhams! Never, never have I had that happen! His logic is that you charge less with only one tenant. Can't beat that, eh? He is also helpful whenever we need anything hoisted to the terrace that we can't manage (furniture), and brings the gas man, and watches the house when we go on holiday. His name is Abdul Latif. He is a gym teacher at the high school and most amiable.

If you are lacking physical affection in your life book a flight to Morocco for I did read that affection will not only lengthen one's life but makes it more enjoyable. My face gets kissed daily, both cheeks; lots of hugging, hand shakes with the men, and always the polite conversation that goes with any entry to a shop. I find the sight of the handsome young men and beautiful girls holding hands or embracing as they walk the streets endearing. Make no mistake, not with each other mind - girl to girl, boy to boy. When I see a couple holding hands I am taken aback. It is amazing how quickly one takes on the nuances of a culture. I haven't seen 'legs' in almost a year now with the exception of a few ill mannered and ignorant tourist (yes this is a sore spot with me).
If you are going to come all this way, read up on the country for mercy's sake. It is a Muslim country! Dress with some respect and restraint. One need not wear a burqa (indeed when we see women dressed in the all black head to toes we say, "Not from 'round here. Must be visiting." -with the exception of Marrakesh). I have seen this same behavior in India, and it never ceases to shock me. Aside from the religious reasons, there is good cause for the manner of dress. The Berbers were wearing robes long before the Arabs arrived with Islam. It's a desert, hot sun, ozone weak..coming through is it? harrumph.

I am returned to the story of Matilda and the Goring brothers today. I tell you this is not a story I would have ever written. I like to write stuff where things are blowing up, and there is intrigue, and a kick ass attitude all 'round. I only wrote the intro for the Creative Writing class I took last quarter. It was a photograph for a prompt and the professor went quite mad for the story and insisted I flush it out for my final. Being the approval junkie that I am, I of course did so and now she is urging me to turn it into a novel. I am beginning to develop some affection for these characters. This next bit is where everyone gets buggered. I hate that part. I would much prefer to just skip to the happy ending, but that's just not as interesting is it? Here is the intro for "Fractured" if anyone wants to give it a read. Comments are as always welcomed.

The huge freighter slipped through the morning mist, displacing thirty-two tons of water as she moved through the Pacific toward the Panama Canal. She sat low in the water, her bow line passing under the waves. Gunn Tang shivered pleasantly in the cool breeze coming off the water. He was at heart a man of the mountains who had gone to sea. The wildness and limitless expanse of the world’s oceans were home to him; his ports of call only somewhere to leave. He would be more relieved than usual to off load the cargo from this trip. Like most of his countrymen from the Qinghai province, Gunn knew better than to speak aloud when he saw anything out of the ordinary. He had done his stint in the Chinese Navy; he knew the dimensions and construction of containers necessary for the transport of a nuclear missile, and they had loaded twenty of them into the belly of his ship. The purpose of the device that had been brought onto the ship and placed in the forecastle was unknown. He knew only that it had been producing a low level hum since they pulled out of port in Shanghai, and the technician that came on board with it never left the deck. He could see the locks of the Canal coming into view. It was time to finish his morning tea and rouse the crew. The cargo was not his concern. Soon he would be pulling out of port, and be on his way across the Atlantic to Casablanca where he had good friends and a snug berth waiting. He inhaled deeply, taking in the salty breath of the sea and then went below.

Dorothy Beal clutched the white porcelain of the coffee mug as if it were a life raft. The stabbing pain that was located behind her eyeballs, each of which she felt in excruciating detail, was spreading to both her temples. As long as she could feel her butt in the chair, she was pretty sure she would not vomit all over her desk, in spite of the sheen of moisture that had now broken out over her forehead. The blips from the NRO monitor on her desk in the tiny cubicle chirped, indicating activity from the satellite passing over the Canal. The noise made her want to throw the mug full of steaming black coffee into the screen. There was a Chinese freighter coming into the Canal. Fabulous, who cared? It was most likely carrying a load of knock-off Barbie dolls and Bruce Wills DVDs. Why had she drunk so much at the party last night? Did she make an idiot of herself with Jack? She couldn’t remember anything past eleven o’clock. At least she had woken up in her own bed, was that a good or bad sign? She needed to do something to change her life. Another year in this cubicle for eight hours a day, five days a week would kill her. Just a couple of those Vicodin Lela had given her would do the trick. That would take the edge off the hangover, then she could stand upright long enough to make her way over to Lela’s cubicle on the other side of the endless basement and find out what she did last night. As she leaned over the side of her chair to search through her bag for the medication, and look for the remains of that bottle of water she had brought in earlier in the week, the ship passed through the Canal, out of sight of the satellite, and on its way to dock in Santiago de Cuba.


Anonymous said...

Hello! I'm Juanky and I'm Spanish
I'm a fan of your blog, it's all about the quality content, keep it up! I want to add you to my blogroll at Sorry for my English and you can write a comment in my blog please, Thanks

scarlettscion said...

You can see my bald spot in that picture you know.

lady macleod said...

juankydanzas thank you for reading. I will certainly have a look at your blog.