April-June 2013 JOURNAL OF EURASIAN STUDIES Volume V., Issue 2.


bundles of human beings cuddled up on their benches or on the floor, unaffected by these delays,

snuggled warmly in their jallabas, snoring away soundly. They slept in these conditions! It was freezing

inside that refrigerated wagon, the icy drafts cutting me in two. And yet they all slept, even the goats

and chickens slept. In light of this one must learn to dream awake. And so, awake I did dream, peering

into the moonless night, listening to the silence of shifting figures, smelling the freshness of the cool


The train arrived on time. Although having already been to the 'Red City', I did not lose out on that

Instant of excitement that a traveller feels when setting his or her eyes on a wondrous sight: the redochre

ramparts and grovelling markets leave no room for cosmopolitan aloofness or blasé platitudes.

And it is because of this Instant that Marrakech is both wondrous and deceptive: the city where your

heart leads you is also the city where bus-loads of 'senior citizens' mingle and confer with con-artists,

pick-pockets, swindlers, liars, petty thieves, swarming kids and supplicating women with fly-infested

babies dangling from their hips. Yet, there are sound reasons for such spectacles: little work or none for

the simple Moroccan obliges him or her to 'live off' tourists, which provides them with some income, be

it earned, conned or stolen! Who is to judge? Furthermore, the so called 'generosity' of the Western

tourist does no good deed to the artisan who is forced to lower the excellent quality of his crafts because

of the massive glut of the industrialised tourist souvenirs of poor workmanship that the eager foreigner

buys in unbargained quantities at astronomical prices. The ideal remedy to this dilemma would be to

educate the tourist in Moroccan crafts in order for him or her to discern between what is traditional and

what is rubbish. It is not enough to throw money away on worthless items, or give it away to beggars

and children. Here the tourist, that is the wise and educated tourist, could play a large rôle in developing

the Moroccan traditional arts and crafts as part of its infra-structure, and not abandon it to pettiness or to

the exclusivity of its export market, which in effect does make thrive the one or two percent of the

population because of its quality goods founded upon traditional mediums of workmanship. Traditional

workmanship must remain a transversal reality in Africa and not a vertical exclusivity supported by a

government policy of catering to wealthy foreign clients! And there they were! Bus-loads of enthusiastic

tourists flashing their greenbacks, French Francs and Deutsh Marks in the middle of Djemaa el Fna

Square much to the hysterical delight of swarming children, experts in thievery and cunning, versed in

the art of qualm cajolery. About all this I can speak frankly, I had two wallets stolen in Morocco and

conned into lending an adolescent some money for a reason that he never made very clear...

Amidst all this swindling and pick-pocketing, hawkers, tooters acrobats, snake charmers and bellydancers,

all accompanied by ragged clothed children bashing away at tambourines, gathered in the

square to earn their meagre living, I plunged and ploughed towards an outdoor café in which several

gold-toothed fellows were slowly sipping tea. The sight of my seventy-dollar back-pack and twenty-five

dollar boots caused many a fly-infested eye to glare. These items would be sold or bartered for a more

suitable weed (along with my father's watch) in the Sahara or in Mali.

I reached a table and ordered a mint tea, a 'nane chay'! It was quickly brought and I thanked the

young waiter in Arabic, 'shukran' to which he did not react to at all! I had learned about two-hundred

Arabic words, and could rifle off a half dozen religious formulas when greeting and bidding farewell. In

fact, I knew more Arabic than French, especially with regards to food and drink. Be that as it may, I had


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