Monday, 16 July 2007
the princess and "Die Hard IV"
Q and A are closing the geographical gap, they are on the same continent now as A is in Ghana. Communication however is proving more difficult than when they were separated by 4828 km of ocean. I begin to think they must both long for the fall.
Everyone! here smokes. I cannot imagine the statistics for lung cancer and emphysema. Of course not everyone, but at times – especially in a café – it seems true; but I will say this, that is very forward thinking, there are in the larger cafes and restaurants “no smoking” areas.
In Morocco the sharing of food is just good manners - in the home, the café’, taxi, or train. On the train in second class food is always shared, in first class it is not but first class passengers will take your magazines without asking if you are napping and without any but the most cursory request should you be awake, and in second class they will not.
Rolling couscous with the fingers is, like chopsticks – an acquired skill. You can see the Moroccans in the sidewalk cafes or sitting in groups while at roadside work eating the couscous with their (right) hand in perfectly rolled balls. Being the adventurous sort I gave it a go last time we were invited to dinner at Mohammad’s house (which was over the moon delicious) with much encouragement and instruction from the family. Mohammad and his brother own the rug/antique/jewelry shop we frequent in Fez. We use him exclusively for our rugs and my antique djellabas actually. His shop is the Coin Berber, which had a write up in the New York Times, we were so proud for him. He, his brother, and his father, who is the most adorable antique in the shop, own and run the shop. We first met Mohammad when Q and I went in his shop for Q to look for jewelry (never go jewelry shopping without this child; I am thinking if the professor thing does not work out she can definitely get a job in the jewelry business). Then of course we had to look at some rugs upstairs, and have tea, and look at the antiques across the street (not a street in the western sense, think more of across the ‘hall’).
I found an exquisite antique caftan that had been worn at one of the royal weddings. I mean a real stunner, which Q made me try on. Now I have told you I like to collect, but only things I can use. The price for this caftan and justifiably so was $2000/980 pounds. One had just sold that was not as fancy for $2500/1226 pounds. I said, “Oh no thank you very much but that is too much to pay for something I won’t use.”
Mohammad went back to his shop to wrap the wonderful Berber blankets we had purchased, and Q kept telling me why I should buy it. We went to pick up our package and I said once again even after he lowered the price “No.” I told Q, "If I were to purchase it, I would carefully unbutton all the handmade buttons down the length of the front and wear it as a coat with jeans, a pullover cashmere, and heeled black boots."
Then he said, and you will hear this, “How much would you pay.” So thinking to end the discussion right there because I did really want it, but could not justify the extravagance I said, “3000 dirhams (367 usd/181 pounds) is all I can pay.” After picking his jaw off the ground, Mohammad smiled indulgently and said, “That is unfortunate. But come you both must meet my father.”
His father stays mostly over in the antique shop and as I said fits right in, and he is so lovely. Mohammad ran off a string of Moroccan at him that even Q had trouble following, but we got the jist. He was telling his father about the caftan I liked and the ridiculous price I offered. The father looked at me and I shrugged and gave him my best dimpled smile. “Fine,” he said.
“What?!” asked Mohammad of his father.
“I said give it to her for her price. Her hair is so beautiful.” And THAT is how I came to own the princess coat and how we became friends with Mohammad and then his entire family.
In the very large condominium in the New City in Fez lives Mohammad’s grandmother, father and mother, two aunts, a sister, he and his wife, and I think the brother. Can you imagine working in that kitchen? When Mohammad told us his wife had chosen to take a job outside the home, we were not surprised.
When we were invited for lunch all of the family was there, and one of the other sisters and a friend dropped by for lunch, which was more delicious than I can tell you.
Then it was tea and entertainment time. We watched the video of Mohammad’s wedding, which was quite a splendid affair. All the men stayed to watch as well. Now you must understand this is a very common, from what I have seen, entertainment. The family all sits around and when they see themselves or someone they know they point and clap and make comments. “Now where am I?” “What were you doing there?” “Who are you talking to?” “Look at you dance Mama’!” When the music comes up they all clap and sing and sometimes get up and dance. It is splendid.
Here’s the ringer, Mohammad was married almost a year ago.
The man who makes our fresh orange juice has been on holiday and I MISSed HIM, at least the chaps who make the fresh bread just inside the entrance to the Oudayas are still here, you can smell the wood burning at the stoves when I go up to close the roof at midnight.
He returned on Sunday and we all had a great reunion. He is always so cheerful. He is practicing his English on me, and I try out my Darjia on him. I have never seen him have a "down" day, in spite of the fact he has some sort of deformity of one leg which must give him pain and he works every day from early to late. He and his family had gone to the mountains that surround Marrakech, and had a smashing time apparently. He has a beautiful daughter who is very intent and a son who has that look of mischievousness in his eye. We are soooo glad to have him back.
On Sunday we headed for the market for yogurt, dates, and DVDs in the now aggressive search for HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHONEIX. As we were going to the market we saw a parade of people headed to the beach – coming up the hill from the road toward New City the sidewalk was packed with beachgoers. “Oh no I am thinking they know something about how hot it is going to be today,” I said to Q.
“Oh yes, look at that,” she said pointing to the people coming from the direction of the Medina. As we walked farther toward the Medina it seemed everyone else on the road was heading in the opposite direction toward the beach. “I feel like I am in one of those disaster movies. You know where the idiot heroes are headed toward where the fire, earthquake, bad guys, or erupting volcano is located and everyone else is fleeing to safety.
Nonetheless we forged ahead but no joy on the yogurt. The dates are brilliant however. No joy on Harry Pottter but I found DIE HARD IV in English. Joy and rapture! My Sunday afternoon is made.