Monday, 23 July 2007

happenings in Rabat

Q and I were over to PAUL’s for lunch on Friday and everything is on sale in Agdal. It looks like London in July, heavenly. Sale is my most favorite four-letter-word. Q picked up three ba-ba-boom shirts and a lingerie collection that should ensure the happiness of all parties. I did a bit of shopping at La Vie en Rose myself.

While we were shopping in one of the clothing stores in Agdal I realized playing over the sound system was Kenny Rodgers singing that song about gambling - surreal. Moroccan women have a notable sense of style, but it is to a great extent ten years or more behind the West. The eye makeup is definitely from the sixties.

There is a habit or custom here in Morocco that I have witnessed nowhere else in my travels. Bags of laundry, of market goods, with a lamp or chair, milk or water are carried by two persons, with each one carrying one of the handles and the load between them. Many of them are the same plaid bags with the outside covering of plastic, but it is the same with luggage or plastic bags. It seems quite efficient as two to carry a load is certainly better than one, but I do wonder if this is from some older custom?

If you have traveled to France you know it is custom and good manners there to announce yourself when entering a shop with “Bon jour” and to signify your leaving with “Au Revoir”. It is much the same here, but you get much better service if you take the time to say hello in Arabic or French, , and then ask after the health of the shopkeeper. You will receive handshakes, smiles, and an array of tidbits such as fresh, tasty walnuts, dates, and an invitation to the back of the shop where he keeps the fresh spices.

Another custom here is the sprinkling of water on the front stoop and the street, followed usually by a sweeping with a squeegee device. At certain times of the day in the morning and the afternoon around three you have to dodge the water being tossed in the Medina. As Q points out it doesn’t appear to really clean anything but rather to keep the dust down.

Apparently a large percentage of Moroccan men have some sort of Turret’s syndrome. When they see a woman they just spurt stuff out and leer. I can’t believe they actually think you are going to say, “Yes please take me. Take me now.”

Update from the earlier post about A in Ghana:
“Hey babe everything is going well. Saw one castle yesterday. Eerie. Staying at a hotel built over an artificial crocodile pond! Headed To Park in an hour/ text missing… “
Upon A’s return he called Q to tell her apparently “Paris” had fallen into the sea and he had to stand guard while she changed her shirt. The life of the young Americans in Africa –“ more news at eight”. A is attending a wedding in Ghana and he must take Coca Cola and Chiclets… I know! I will get the details for you.

Talking with one of the students doing his research for his Fulbright we learned there are only three purification plants in Morocco; everything else goes into the rivers and the ocean. The government instead of buying the inexpensive easy to maintain systems, buys the new and fancy plants and equipment that requires complicated technology. These systems then break and there is no one to fix it –because the government agent buys the salesmen’s line that, ‘you can give tours and say look what I am doing for my country.’ I am thinking this has something to do with the unpleasant odor that on occasion finds its way into my bathroom. I am now the single largest purchaser of Clorox in Morocco I am sure.

“Dearest it is so hot out and the hannuts were not open so I could not pick up any Oul Mes. Will you get some while you are out for lunch with K.?” I asked.
“Dearest?” I repeated when there was no reply from the child laid out in a boneless posture on the settee.
“I made an affirmative eyebrow motion,” she said languidly.

In Tangier Q had an encounter with a jeweler:
Q: “If I pay that price you will be taking the meat from my tagine (in Arabic).
Moroccan: “So eat chicken.”
Q: “No, no chicken, just vegetables. I will only have vegetables. And what about my poor sick mother?”
Moroccan: “You want to buy a present for your mother?”

The exchange shows both the typical tenacity of the Moroccan shopkeeper and the growing expertise of Q in bargaining.

25 comments:

Omega Mum said...

I heard something funny on the BBC that I thought might cheer you up in your moments of warmongering worry. Apparently when the cold war was at its height, occasional groups of Westerners would visit the USSR to be treated to the usual round of ministerial speeches.

None of the visitors was usually able to speak the language, so the speech would consist of sentences like, "When we are in charge, you will all die slowly and painfully," delivered with a beaming smile. It would then be up to the translator to fill in the words that should have been spoken, "This sewage treatment plant is the pride of the region," without cracking up.

Well, it made me laugh, anyway.

scarlettscion said...

Oulmes is one word, just FYI. And can we leave my underthings off the Internet?

sally in norfolk said...

your post was a joy to read..as always x

I Beatrice said...

I must say I do admire the opportunism of the Moroccan salesman..... Never a question, apparently, of "how's your mother?" - just a quick-fire "you want to buy a present for her then?"

An admirable re-arrangement of sentiment, it seems to me.......

The Good Woman said...

Greetings and enquiries on entering shops - that must be African. I remember walking into a shop in Lusaka and asking the price of an item. The shopkeeper just gazed at me before asking 'and how are you?'.

Lord Straf-Moran said...

...and then ask after the health of the shopkeeper. You will receive handshakes, smiles, and an array of tidbits...

Always works. By the way, we say "titbits".

The Good Woman said...

Oh and there's a little something for you over at mine...

debio said...

Lovely cameos, lady m.... as usual.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Fascinating as ever, Lady M. What a delight those shops must be! We get the effusive greetings here, too, but not the tray of tidbits1 Very interesting about those baskets being carried - do let us know if you find out more about it.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Ps: Meant to say I love that last piece of dialogue!

darth sardonic said...

this is a wonderfully clever bit of culture. i like how you capture the tidbits that illustrate a bigger picture.

Snuffleupagus said...

Yes, you make it all so lifelike.

I Beatrice said...

Tidbits or titbits? Don't know where you live Lord Whatever - but here in Britain the spelling is optional.......

lady macleod said...

Thanks to each of you for coming and for leaving your comments. I shall address each one of you on the 'morrow, but I fear I am not up to the task today. Thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

omega mum

LOL. That's great.

thank you for the laugh and thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

scarlettscion

thank you dear. yes dear.

lady macleod said...

sally

thank you and thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

i beatrice

it is a joy to behold! thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

good woman

I think it a very good custom. I miss that when I am in the U.S.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

My Lord,

"titbits" is it? Yes my lord:-)

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

debio

thank you and thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

welshcakes limoncello

thank you for the kind words. Yes I believe much of Europe is the same. I am going to see what I can find out about the carrying-custom. It intrigues me.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

darth

thank you kind sir for the praise and thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

snuffleupagus

thank you. I'm pleased to hear from you, and thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

i beatrice

"..you say tomato, I say tomato.." I am always glad to learn an alternative methodology. You never know when the path will be blocked...

thank you dear for coming by.