Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Feels Like Patanka

Through the window at Café de Paris I get to see everyone on their way to work, scarves and belts and pot bellies still in place where they were strategically placed earlier that morning.
Most of us are still waking up, sneaking in yawns, and others are already knee deep in dealings by 8am.
Café Paris celebrates shady passport exchange, what seem like divorce proceedings, and -God help me- small children and their obnoxious noise pollution, as of late.

I have begun to mentally prepare for my departure, designing small handmade invitations for my Mughal-e-Azam going away bash. I will invite all of them, and only Absalom will come.

I’m not usually up this early. Tight times are forcing me to “take-jobs” that have nothing to do with me or mine including menial photography assignments- the latest having to do with the Tangier Renaissance- forces me to think about what that could actually mean.

Will these upscale elitist spaces eventually overtake the low-life gems that continue to differentiate Tangier from Marrakech despite the waterfront, despite the geraniums?
Are the Dar Noors and Serenity Spas of the city really the next wave of urban development for sleepy Tangier?

Sometimes the whole city is like one big yawn. The noise is transparently placed in efforts to wake us up. I can see through it and conveniently, also sleep through it.

From the café window I get to see all of my Souk Barra friends out of uniform and a lot of times I don’t recognize them, only that I know that I know them.

The waiters at Café de Paris wouldn’t let me take pictures this morning- some mumbling about the patron and pleading eyes convinced me to drop the subject and sheepishly tuck my camera back into its hiding place.

A man with a box tied to his neck with a bird sitting on it is in the window, I want to ask what he is selling but I’m losing my vocabulary and can’t pronounce verbs ending in ein. I usually say something like, what’s that you've got there? or Can I buy that from you?

I have become all around very strategic. Being a strategic person involves trusting yourself. Your ability to affect people. General faith in cause and effect.

In general, I don’t trust the words that end with an open mouth. F’gaa, qaraa, shifa’e.

I have two months to get through the 3 kilo textbook that has been making eyes at me from across the room all year. You know you want me come get me, he says. But I resist each time. When will this flirtation evolve into something real? Why can’t you commit? Was it something I did, something I said?

While pleading with my Arabic I lost track of the conversation in real-time. Apparently I had stained my banana-coat in some mysterious place between my waist and collarbone and right shoulder. I thanked the man for pointing it out and chased it like a dog for a minute before deciding it was a strand of my hair that he mistook for a streak of dirt.
I received a free treat from the Qawee on my way out, also like a dog.

What to do when no on takes you seriously? Opt out of the banana coat, perhaps? But Faddal makes brush strokes in the air each time he sees me in it, calls it my artist coat.

I know it’s not the coat-
it seems I’ve all around made myself too familiar.
Too available.

Is that the name of the game? I plead once more with my Arabic, it takes him a few seconds to mentally translate, then he slithers away as if to say, you’ll never learn.
In dialect. In idiom.
Something about my being fit for a pocket.
At least I understood the part about the pocket.

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