Friday, 1 June 2007

Music, Bureaucracy, and Residency

The Sacred Music Festival (it is the music that is sacred not the party) begins today in Fez for nine days. Q is going up to Fez today, and I will go toward the end. There are different bands from around the world all playing religious music. The theme this year is “Weavers of Peace”. In addition to the bands there are readings of Sufi poetry. On the program are listed musicians from Sweden, Iran, south Africa, Portugal, Brazil, France, Turkey, Pakistan, Mauritania, Spain, Benin, India, Syria, Lebanon, and Uzbekistan. The London community Gospel Choir from the UK will be performing the last evening. There are to be art exhibits and films as well.
All the evening concerts are at Bab Makina (14th century King’s palace reception court). The afternoon concerts are in the sumptuous Moorish Palace of Dar Bat'ha, except the H'madcha Sufi drummers of Fez, concert will take place in the Roman ruins of Volubilis with Arc of Triumph (300 B.C.) as a backdrop. It sounds as if it will be grand. Fez is expecting a crowd.

During the time of obtaining my Residency Card, the trip to the Police was another lesson in frustration. They wanted me to return the next day and the “receipt” will be ready – thanks to some fancy linguistic dancing by Q; but they wanted a monthly bank statement. Yeah, that’s gona happen. I will take my “receipt” in every month for stamping and use their own technique against them. I will not take Q with me, and will act unable to understand even a word of French or Arabic, my only phrase will be a *shrug* and “Inshallah”. I also considered tears, I am not at all above using every tactic in such a situation.
After three months of dancing around the bureaucrats I took Sally the Aussie with me after giving her strict instructions not to let on she could understand anyone, because the idiot foreigner act was going pretty well. We arrived and I discovered what I had been doing wrong all these months. Obviously I should have taken an Australian with me from the start because I walked in and bada boom they handed me my residency card complete in its little plastic cover!
In my dealings with the police not once did I see a computer anywhere in the building and I was in the main offices upstairs as well. All the files are on paper and kept in the rickety file cabinet, the “confidential” files out on the desk in a cardboard box. It’s no wonder the guy is cranky.

I am most pleased I did not end in the Kasbah for murder of the chap who supervises the staff at the Villa, or any one of the three bureaucrats at the Police in charge of residency cards who must really love the sight of me as they had me come in once a bloody week, or the trying-to-be-helpful but instead landed me in a pile of yak droppings Austrian, or the pirate at the Customs office who kept ransoming my books, or the galactic undesirable who lost my "Harry Potter IV" DVD, or the repairman who got lost on the way from Casablanca to Fez stranding us without heat, or "Rat Face" who when told the light bulb needed replacing (the one in the very high ceiling) brought a metal ladder that had the legs held together with a red string to the door, along with a light bulb that has the wattage of a dying candle - and walked away; or the housekeeper who had been too "busy" to clean lately. All in all Rabat is much more calming on my state of being.

Q and I were discussing, what to do to resolve any moral questions, ethical dilemma, or military difficulty; I proffered that “I just think, what would Billy do?”
Q: “I find that really disturbing Mom. I guess I can just close my eyes and “think of England”.
Billy is my friend who is a special forces Marine in the U.S. A very fine chap who is a true Renaissance man, he can discuss military tactics and go right into philosophy without slowing for the turn.

You know I gave it some thought and I think serial killers should own a crematorium for convenience. It would cut down on littering the bodies all over. Yes, one too many James Patterson novels eh?

I saw an interesting sentence on the form I must fill out for the Residency card: “My sex is (optional item).” Think about it.

On the walk to the gym, speaking of the present and latest in a line of copy-cat killers in London; the self styled Jack the Ripper murderers Q was commenting on how prostitutes to this day remain a disposable population. “I read the blogs of a prostitute and a dominatrix,” she said as if informing me her subscription to the International Herald Tribune had just been renewed.
After I was done clutching my chest for the expected angina, I said, “Yep, four years at Penn.”
“I read them to get their point of view. It is part of my “Women’s studies” you know. “
“How do you know it is actually a prostitute? I ask, like I am inquiring after the credentials for a lawyer. “I read about one blog that was supposedly from a prostitute, but was in reality some teenager from Hoboken.”
“No, the woman who is a dominatrix has been quoted in ***’s column, he is very reputable; and she has a weekly column in the Seattle Times, “ she said.
“So she is not worried about getting arrested?”
“No, she doesn’t have sex with her clients, “she said.
“Then it is legal?” I asked getting quite an education. Now remember we are walking along the sidewalks of Morocco having this conversation as we doge the numerous and very deep holes that litter our way.
“Yea, she pays taxes,” Q. said.
“Man that is one tax form I would like to see,” I laughed.


I Beatrice said...

Too much to take in all at a single gulp, my splendid Lady M! I'll keep coming back though, to see what I have missed...

Two things do immediately spring to mind. One is: are there to be no Bach oratorios or Mozart requiems at the Festival? I sang in a choir for years, and they are my especial joy. On reflection though - just too far outside the mainstream perhaps? (Understandable - but still, a pity!)

The other is to ask if you've considered playing the English milady card, when dealing with Moroccan officialdom? It always used to work. And must be better, surely, than taking an Aussie along? (Dearly, dearly though I love the breed in general!)

I'm wondering if your word count of today has actually exceeded my own, by the way? 2000+ and still counting, in my case .... and oooh, I do hope yours exceeds even that!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I remember when my husband and I went to India for our honeymoon (Goa, Delhi, Mandawa, Jaipur, Agra), we peered into an office while walking around. Inside were about 10 or 15 men with fingers poised over manual typewriters. This was in 1993, well after the computer age had already started in the West. India is a good country for bureaucracy as well, we found. We concluded that it was because the bureaucracy helps to employ numerous people.

Omega Mum said...

I like the serial killer and crematorium idea - I can see a few problems ahead for the horror book/film industry, though. The 'Weallknowwhodunit' might possibly win fewer customers...but call me Mrs Picky.

Shauna said...

Love your adventures. I'd love to hear more about the festival!

lady macleod said...

i beatrice

No this is sacred music to North Africa. Music sacred to Islam.

My word count is right at 1000. That's what I write most days? You think it is too long I gather. Perhaps I will put up one of those poll things and take a vote eh? I don't want people to bugger off because it is long and (gasp) boring.

lady macleod said...


Yes India is another example. but I tell you true the king of all countries for size and convolutions of bureaucracy is China. It is more of a philosophy.
Thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

omega mum

hmmm I'll give the crematorium theme more thought... I was purely thinking convenience.
thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...


Thank you, thank you. Oh you will hear more. Q is going for the first part and I will be there toward the end. I shall take some photographs for you all.
thank you for coming by.

BOSSY said...

Did somebody say 'taxes'?

lady macleod said...


Yes dear but I'm almost sure they weren't coming after, uh I mean calling on you.
Thank you for coming by.

I Beatrice said...

No, that wasn't what I meant at all! How could I have caused you to misread me so? I'm mortified!

I was merely taking comfort from the fact that, like me that day, you had produced a rather longish blog...

But if yours come in at 1000 words, then I can only feel worse still about my own - since even the shorter ones are generally in excess of that!

Please take that counter thingy away therefore! It's entirely up to you how much you write - and since the comments keep on coming in their droves, you must assume you're getting it just right.

lady macleod said...

no not at all. I think it is a valid question. I am glad you spoke of it.
I do want to know what readers want. I am not one of those "I don't care what people think I am writing this for myself"
I am writing so the people will read and enjoy. I am leaving the poll up for a few days and see what I get..

merry weather said...

My only negative experience with foreign bureacrats being the Italian Embassy all this is fascinating for me! I love your serenity in adversity.... Hope the music festival was fun.

(Your word count is OK for me)

lady macleod said...

merry weather

I'm glad you enjoyed it Q is in Fez, I will go later. someone has to be here to babysit the kitty.

I am pleased the post are not too long for you. thank you for coming by.

debio said...

Your Residency Visa experience so hit the mark. I find it pays to be helpless - and to be unescorted by a male; and only to answer a question simply, no detail.
In truth, I have been close to real tears as, when asked where my daughter's father is, I replied 'London' to which it was stated, 'then you are ONLY her mother'. Yes, only - but I lost heart when I should have explained that I have also been her father, friend, confidante, carer, teacher, chief entertainments' officer, taxi driver etc. In this world it counts as nought.

Janice said...

Lady M, your blog is one of my favorites. Pray tell, what is your Alabama connection?

Janice (living in Alabama, dreaming of Morocco)