Friday, 31 August 2007

when good things happen to good people

At the Casablanca airport Q made her way through the line up for boarding passes with M.C. Solaar, and bags in hand, ticket at the ready. “Oh no,” says the agent. “We can’t make your boarding pass you must go over to ***.” By the time she returned they had filled the plane and had her on standby. When it looked as though she would get left they called her up and gave her and M.C. Solaar a first class seat trans-Atlantic to New York! How cool is that? Now she understands my aversion to coach.

She is doing well and says that M.C. Solaar is adjusting nicely to life in America. A is finishing up his malaria meds so he and M.C. both have her up at 0400 hours wanting to talk and play – in that order. Today on AIM she said, “The people at CVS don’t care how my family is doing.” This in reference to the very personal service one finds in Morocco, she misses it. It is true and one of the things I most love about this country. When I go to the apothecary the chap invariably ask, “How is the head doing,” and the nice ladies at the shop in the Medina said to some Moroccan customers one day, “She? She is our friend.” It only takes one or two visits and they have a going concern in the business of your life.

An excellent example is the 1,2,3 Shop at Mega Mall where Q and I went on quite a shopping spree once they declared their 50% Off sale. When the young woman was bagging our goodies I ask for hangers - my intent being that she put the dresses and skirts on hangers for us to transport home. She said, “Oh no, we don’t do that. No hangers.” Well fine, that’s not a problem I was just looking to spare myself a wrinkle or two. On Monday this week I went in – you know just to make sure we had not missed anything – and we had! I found six lovely shirts, but I only bought three. While standing and paying at the counter, the young woman who had been helping me (bringing more and more stuff, “This one?”) left for a bit and returned with what can best be described as a shit-eating-grin on her face as she placed at my feet one of the extra-large shopping bags filled to the rim with – hangers! I had not the heart to tell her it was not what I had meant, so I joyfully took them in the spirit offered. Once I arrived home I noticed she had put in the very posh kind with the padded clasp, so it was a score.

My housekeeper had taken herself off to the doctor this morning but without informing me. Just as I had FINISHED sweeping the floors and tidying the kitchen, she appears at the door. Oh well, I consider it today’s workout – but all in all I prefer the treadmill!

Designer brand tee shirts are ubiquitous here, with Dolce & Gabbana leading the pack. It is very jarring to walk along in the medina and see Versace, D&G, Nike, and a host of others on the young people. I did see one the other day that I found most amusing. This is a Muslim country in Northern Africa right? Keep that in mind. The tee shirt said, “Somebody in Texas loves me”. It was a young Moroccan male wearing it! I have to wonder if he made the connection

Apparently the Americans have begun their holiday weekend early (I can never remember which one I only know there is one at the beginning of summer and another at the end), as I cannot contact anyone at my bank. Soon I will be without cash. It could be really sad people. This could be that event James was writing about that has me ending on the streets, couldn’t it be the streets of Knightsbridge instead? I can do anything that will take a credit card but that does not include any of the hannuts for food, or the taxis. This is not a credit card friendly country. I did want to be nice and slim for the Canadian trip but this may be a bit more severe than what I had in mind. I was going to skip croissants for a while…

I was thinking about what constitutes success in Morocco and in general. I look around the Oudayas and I think it may be feeding, clothing, and housing your family. On the other side of town in Souissi it is not much different than in Belgravia, Bel Air, or Dulwich. Bigger car, bigger house, better accessories, better schools for your children, and getting invited to the palace. How much of how we decide we have had a good life is dependant on peer pressure? Of course peer pressure this century comes in over the satellite and Internet from all over the world, which makes me wonder about the thought process in the shantytowns one sees along the railroad tracks, and at the base of the new mansions I see going up by the Mega Mall. These people live in a structure with dirt floors, tin roofs, and no running water or poor quality, but almost everywhere I see the satellite dishes. So they are watching television. Morocco does have some censure; I see that on the Internet where I can’t access You Tube or Google Earth, but in large it is pretty open. Do the images of wealth make those who are not wealthy want to attend school no matter what, in order to have an education, in order to scale the ladder of success? Or is that a western idea? Do the images make them resent the people they are living next to in the mansions? It sets me to mind of the Medieval period, but then the images of the wealthy were not so readily available. You might well think you were as well off as most people. The contrast with India is striking. There you see the same sort of shanty villages, along the rivers or hanging on the outside of the cities, but I have not seen the ubiquitous presence of satellite dishes. I mean really you can’t quite conceive of it unless you see it. Going past a grouping of hovels you will note every one has secured to what passes for a roof – a satellite dish. What are they thinking?

19 comments:

Annie said...

Still laughing here at the 'shit eating grin' description! I love it! (the description, not the... well you know!)

It's Labor Day weekend here (how hard it is for me not to type Labour?)

Nice score on the hangers!

Ian Lidster said...

That's OK, Annie, in Canada it's called 'Labour' Day.

Your travelogue, My Lady, was fascinating, and the contrasts between relative comfort and dire poverty is something I've always found a bit difficult when travelling. I tend to feel guilty sometimes.

The satellite dishes on the roofs of hovels you also see in Mexican shanty towns. An odd thing, but I guess it makes people feel more connected in some way.

Ian Lidster said...

Oh, and interesting that you mentioned you're going to be coming to British Columbia. Where will you be visiting in October -- oh, and I do hope the weather is good for you.

Kaycie said...

Is Q in a big city? Perhaps she should come to the Bible belt. I frequent the same pharmacies and stores, and after a visit or two, you're called by name and your family is asked after. We're very friendly here in the South.

I am glad Q and A and M.C. Solaar traveled in comfort and arrived safely. I hope you're doing as well on your own. I'm missing my girl again tonight and I'm sure you're missing yours.

jmb said...

Lady Mac, you do a great job keeping us up to date with things in New York and things in Morocco.
How lovely for Q to travel first class. I hope she is settling into New York. They say that you make your own village in NYC and soon feel at home. I hope that is true for her.
I hope you get your money sorted out soon. All this must make you feel very vulnerable.
The contrast of the poverty and the TV is interesting. I guess it takes you away from the terrible life for a while, although I wonder at the contrast too.
regards
jmb

debio said...

Lovely snippets and thoughts, lady m.

Great 'hanger' story.

lady macleod said...

annie

Glad you enjoyed the descriptions. Ah that holiday...

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

Ian

Yes we of the Empire need that 'u' for Scrabble.

More connected? I suppose so, it just boggles my mind. I never saw a television until I was ten or so, the one at home was kept in a room out of bounds for children. I read.

I am going to a writing conference in Surrey. I understand from jmb it is out of the way of the main throughfares. As long as the weather is COLD I shall be pleased. Snow would be lovely if you can arrange it.

thank you for the comments, and thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

kaycle

She is in Boston just now, but going to New York City on the 3 September for graduate school.

Yes I have some experience with the American South and they are very friendly.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

jmb

I try to keep you informed, as you have the northern hemisphere covered.

I think what you say is true, once Q gets settled in she will feel more at home.

Vulnerable is just the word. I am hopeful the last chap I spoke with will get the job done.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

debio

thank you and thank you for coming by.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Well done Q and MC ! So glad the latter is adjusting to life in the US. I can see that Q would miss personal service. Don't you think that's the same almost everywhere - that the very poor will have satellite dishes? I can see that entertainment might make life bearable, but you are right to wonder whether it makes them envy the rich more. My guess would be that it does. I love your blog, Lady M.

@themill said...

I do, on occasion, have need to travel into the most poverty stricken areas of Newcastle. It is a general rule of thumb that the poorer the family the bigger the satellite dish and, correspondingly, the television.

lady macleod said...

welshcakes

Thank you for the lovely words of praise. You surely know how to make a girl feel needed.

I don't know is poverty and the television connected? Read down to @themill, perhaps it is. Is it like when we read as children? That too is an escape, but I worry as the tele is so one dimensional. With reading the reader is involved in the process...

Perhaps it is my own bias? I should rather someone have a book in their hand than be mesmerized by the television. And According to the young people who participated in home-stays the television is on all the time and it replays the worst of American serials. This again leaves me with questions..

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

@thmill

It is universal then... I just find it sad. As I said to welshcakes it may be my own bias, I should rather see everyone, no matter the socio-economic status, with a book in hand rather than television.

thank you for coming by.

Sparx said...

Greetings! I have to say, there are still pockets of community even here in London, where local businesses know ones family - it is fewer and farther between though. I imagine it would be a lovely thing to get used to - but did you find it intrusive at first? Or did you get used to it right away? Another lovely post...

lady macleod said...

sparx

I think Q found it intrusive at first, but then came to like it very much. I was comfortable as I am used to putting my elusive face out front for people, keep the private stuff at home you know;-) I enjoy the feeling of safety it gives me in our neighborhood. I assure you everyone knows when you are gone or at home. And who you BRING home as well.

I think as someone else mentioned once she gets settled in NYC she will find her own little community. She is after all very affable.

thank you for coming by. Best to the Spud.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Well done with the hangers, and not just any old hanger, padded hangers. Fab!
Pigx

lady macleod said...

piggy

thank you!

and thank you for coming by.