Saturday, January 10, 2009


They sell you a ticket even if the train is pulling out, give you your change then slap the desk and yell "go catch it!"

I made a getaway to Meknes. It was night when I boarded the train so I didnt discover until the morning that the space between Sidi Kacem and Meknes is one of my favorites, in a dilapidated, farmish, evenly spaced trees kind of way. I could also use those adjectives to describe myself so it's really all very narcissistic. My compartment mates including two giggling girls and the boy who spent the entire four hours eating nuts and staring at my face and various other parts of my body.

I searched for air in the space between the door and the storage car behind us. A hoard of boys and one older man rushed past me pushing me aside and opening the storage car doors so the freezing air came rushing at me and I had a chance to say "sh3andiiiiik!?"
They ignored me, and in a few minutes all but one turned back. The mustached man whispered something in the boy's ear then also left. A minute later he returned and locked the doors leading to the storage car. The boy eventually came out of the bathroom and tried to re-enter our car, found the doors locked, and casually mimed for me to open them. I casually mimed back that the man had locked them. In a swift gesture he buried his head in his sweater and crouched into a ball and when he rose into my view again his face was wet and his eyes were red and I couldnt hear him over the howling of the train but I am pretty sure he was screaming, judging from the curve of the O of his mouth. I stared in horror and looked back and forth between him and the first class hallway and couldn't think of anything to do but pause my ipod out of respect. A uniformed ONCF employee returned to the spot and I did the miming locking the door again thing and he said he knew then asked if I would rather return to my seat and I said no I want to watch. I said something about fresh air ("ripe wind").

At the Hotel Majestic the blankets are warm and the light is dim and I fell asleep to Shahrukh Khan's wife not recognizing him without his mustache for the first three quarters of the film. The morning brought fat rain drops falling on my head from dirty, high up places. I went flea-marketing in the mud where masses of heavy-booted children were being treated to gifts for Ashura and my general intolerance for greedy little hands left me mildly disgusted by all the pointing and wailing and "that one! that one too! wah!" Plus, the children in Meknes stare at me in a way that mini tangerines do not. At the Mausoleum of Moulay Idriss a giant pink coat with a head sticking out yelled to her father, "look look! it's a Palestinian!" The other ones just laugh.

I hesitatingly dined at Restaurant Marhaba on Mo V in search of Kebda (which in Meknes comes with proud little chunks of fat in the center) and instead find myself a changed woman after sampling the harira. Even the boy that kept changing his seat so he could watch me eat could not sour the perfection of the dish. The bread is fatter and the children are cuter (maybe because they are fatter) but otherwise Meknes reminded me of Tangier. The ride was worth it if only for this soup. I'm pretty sure it was peppered with some sort of drug. I guess I don't mind. I'll try anything once.

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