Sunday, February 14, 2010

Going to the casbah

posted Sat, 06 Aug 2005

This is a very child-friendly country. When people see babies and children coming into a restaurant or onto the train, they don’t heave deep sighs or roll their eyes. They smile and pat the children on the head. They coo at the babies and kiss them on the tummies. Interestingly, I haven’t noticed that the children here are particularly obnoxious. I wonder if there is a connection.

On the train to Marrakech yesterday, Megan and I were in a compartment with a Moroccan man and a Moroccan woman and her baby. The man and woman were not a couple. The woman was draped in black. The baby was 12 months old – big brown eyes, long lashes, giggly, cute and flirtatious. He would look at us, smile, then bury his face in his mother’s robes.

Megan and I wandered though the Marrakech souk last night. There’s a special name for it, but I don’t have my guidebook with me. There are snake charmers, drummers, acrobats, pickpockets – everything you would want to find in a tourist establishment. This is a traditional waterseller. I have seen these guys everywhere so far in Morocco (I saw them in Turkey as well.) They carry a bag of sheepskin or I suppose camelskin to hold the water, then pour it into one of the brass cups for the customer. I don’t even take the wine at communion at home because I think that is so unsanitary (and I don't like alcohol), so I will not be buying any water from one of these guys.

At one point, she needed to dig into her bag for something, so asked the man to hold her baby.

She asked a complete stranger to hold her baby.

Can you see this happening in the US?

Not only did he agree, but he took the child happily, tickling him, cooing to him, showing him the sights out of the window. He was in no hurry to return the baby to the mother.

The baby got bored and decided he wanted Megan to hold him. So it was off to Megan, who played with him for a while. She knows how to play with babies.

Then he decided he wanted me. He grabbed my shirt, which was a pretty clear sign. Babies don’t usually want to play with me, so I was very flattered. I am not very good at baby talk – at least, at what one says to a baby, so in my fractured French, I explained to him that he should not believe what he sees on TV, that not all American women are like that, that we do not sleep with every man we meet, not we do not, not at all, no we don’t, that you cannot always trust the press or the networks.

It’s not often one gets the chance to influence the next generation of Arabic youth.

Also in the souk were the women doing the henna designs on the feet and the hands. These designs are beautiful – intricate and elaborate.

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