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.


Annie said...

We may go see Harry Potter next weekend, if I don't chicken out!

Way to score on the princess coat!

lady macleod said...


I am pea green with envy!

thank you for coming by.

The Good Woman said...

I love that the price of a princess coat can be negotiated by the sight of beautiful hair. What I find so powerful is that the value of that coat has probably increased tenfold to you through the generous discount of Mohammed and his family. A wonderful story.

xoussef said...

actually, it's "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" :p
have a nice day ^^

jmb said...

I knew that red hair was good for something, which is why I always longed to be endowed with it. However I only got the freckles and the light green eyes.

How wonderful that you have become friends with this family.

darth sardonic said...

i can relate about the eating with hands. you would think it would be easy. while we were living in the ronald macdonald house when the second one was in the hospital, we were there with an east indian family. they made such lovely and wonderful vegetarian food (were i ever to become vegetarian, everything i eat is going to be indian, lol). so one day i was about to sit down to eat in the communal kitchen, and they invited me to dine with them. and i insisted that i was going to do it proper and eat with my hand. man oh man. the mess i made. but i was dogged, despite their repeated reassurances that it was ok if i ate with a fork. i think they were pleased and highly amused with my determination to follow their customs while seated at their table.

I Beatrice said...

When I was younger, we had a beautiful neighbour called Renee, who had a genuine Bedouin dress that she always wore to parties.... She looked spectacular in it - and the local men are still inclined to reminisce, I notice, about Renee and her Bedouin dress..

Your princess coat reminded me of that dress - and I wonder if we are to see a photo of it? I'm not really a clothes person, but somehow your princess coat has captured my imagination...

lady macleod said...

the good woman

You are so right about the value of the coat; and the great story was free! It's one of those items I will keep forever.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...


oh dear (blush) I guess I am so intent on the "search" I inserted it into the title. Thank you for the correction, I will fix it. :-)

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...


yes, the red hair is handy - but I have the milk white skin and freckles in the oddest places..

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...


what a lovely story, and I think it tells a lot about you and your personality - which we your non-existent readers know is wonderful and kind, as well as adventurous.

I must say I cannot wait to read the posts when your wife comes home!

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

i beatrice

that is the coat in the photograph albeit you can only see the back. I will make another when I have it again. I don't wear it here so I left it inside my cedar chest in storage. I have Mohammad looking for me - I want one more long one and one short to wear to Canada in October. I will get photographs of those for you.

I enjoyed the story of Renee.

thank you for coming by.

sally in norfolk said...

What great posts you write I get a glass of wine settle back and enjoy reading them.

Omega Mum said...

I love that princess coat story. You must have indecent amounts of charm - and hair - and be trained to use them. Seriously, though, what a lovely family.

mutterings and meanderings said...

I was once so drunk that I couldn't work out who were the goodies and who were the baddies in a Die Hard film ..

Liz said...

Die Hard 4 on DVD already?!

What a fantastic story about the princess coat. Shopping in Morocco seems far more magical than in Marks & Sparks.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Great post, as always and I'm so glad you got the caftan at that price! I must borrow Q for jewellery shopping here! As always, I feel I am right with you when I read you, Lady M.

jenny said...

It's a lovely coat and only you could pull off the bargain of the century! I like to think I'm a good haggler, but I want you in my corner when I go flea marketing now!

Red hair runs in my family, but it skipped me and my sister. I hoped my girls would have inherited it, since Hubby has red hair in his family too, no such luck! I have always loved red hair. You may have the milky white skin and freckles, but the beautiful red hair is worth it!

Lord Straf-Bilderberg said...

I don't know how much is satirical in what you write and how much is real. If this is real:

......“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.......

then I have to pick my own jaw off the ground and wonder what sort of femme fatale I have on my [blog] hands here.

lady macleod said...


What a lovely think to say!
Where your posts make me want to dig out my climbing boots and gear!

Thank you and thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

omega mum

I love that story as well. It is one of Q's favorites.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...


I am impressed! I am thinking one would have to be sloshed indeed not to see THAT difference in a Die Hard film. My sympathies are with your head for the day after.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...


It is down here (shoosh). I would say that is true, albeit at a sale in M&S I have heard it can get fairly exciting...

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

welshcakes limoncello

Thank you. Yes, you need Q. I tell you she is amazing. The jewelers ask HER questions! When we were in Cartier's in Boston the manager there was quite taken aback at her knowledge (note: mother beaming).

Thank you for the kind words and thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...


It is a game down here and both sides know it so it's fun indeed.

I do like my hair, but I fear for the wrinkled and sagging skin to come...yikes! Oh well.. that's why we have plastic surgeons eh?

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

dear lord shooting up bilderberg

It is all true, for the veracity you can ask Q as she was there. So I do believe it is all my femme and fatale... curtsy and blow you a kiss.

Thank you for putting some extra spring in my step today. A girl does like to hear these things you know, and thank you for coming by.

Kaycie said...

Milk white skin is lovely, even though I know from vicarious experience it is quite a pain to maintain. What my daughter wouldn't give for the color of your hair to go with her milk white skin and hazel eyes. She is constantly changing her ashy blonde to something darker or lighter or red.

lady macleod said...


we all want what we don't have don't we; fortunately I have found that changes with some age on you.

As long as you are good with what is in your heart, I say play around with the outside to your heart's content.

thank you for coming by.

Drunk Mummy said...

Oh the power of striking red hair! Mine is only 'dishwater blonde' so I can only stand by in awe.

Anonymous said...

we need a really well-posed piccie of that coat, please! well done both of you