Saturday, April 9, 2011

We want everything old, but with a new Toilet.

P'Hel hekeda. Walakin mukhtalifa. (Just like that. Except different.)

Buying personal items in Tangier is an adventure, but generally mashi munaasaba. Somehow, it is always male shopkeepers and the kind of boys that whistle at girls that happen to be running the place and run it like the old Indian men at the bridal shops in New Dehli, disheveling all of the perfectly folded cloth for the slight chance that you might want to buy the hot pink sequinned sari that they haven't been able to sell since 1989.
I try to be discreet but the man kept picking out what he thought I would like with a band of onlookers watching the process. He seemed to think he knew me. Blue standard. White with cat and mouse cartoon characters. Orange.
I eventually decided on brown stockings that I saw on a mannequin, and as it turned out, it was the only pair and led to the shopkeeper somewhat violently pulling down the stockings of the mannequin so as to sell them to me. I looked around and couldn't help feeling inappropriate. She was fully nude from the waist down. And it was me who was responsible.

I am making an effort to not say "pHal hekda" and mime instead of trying to remember vocabulary. It has been a hard road. Also trying not to speak muppet Beeker-derija. Now that I keep hearing my voice recorded, it is just too embarrassing. I can edit out of my final product with Audacity but I can't edit it out of my life. People are being more honest with me about my unreasonable behavior and I should probably listen.

The girls at Eric's Hamburger made me feel like I should interview more teenage girls, but also be prepared for them to make fun of me. Seventeen year old Sanaa kept telling me my Arabic was sweet and Haluwa but that I was talking so much she just couldn't keep up. I think one person asking another person if they are drunk is a useless gesture, so I didn't, and I probably didn't want to know anyway. They were sweet girls but obviously on some sort of mission for the night that I could hardly stomach after half of Eric's "quality hot dog" with cheese. I said mtsharafiin, it was nice to meet them, and they replied in unision, "mutsharafiin???" as if to say, wait, where are you going? It was cute, but I was pretty sure their night was going to end like a scene out of "Marock" and I had business to attend to.

The night ended with a plate of midnight french fries at the playa, after convincing the waiter I was interviewing that 555 sounded like a really bad idea, even from across the street. We chatted about the international zone of Tangier and the he explained why people preferred Cafe Central to his previous employer, the Cafe Tingis next door. "They want everything to be original, just with a new bathroom."
It was true. Is that why I stopped going to Tingis? I know I prefer it.
Is that what Tangier is going for? Sounds like a best seller.

"pHal hekda, walakin, mukhtalafa."
or at least, "everything old, but with a new toilet."

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