Monday, May 22, 2006

To Market, To Market

Got a rejection letter today from an editor so I'm not feeling terribly inspired (least of all confident in my epistulary skills) so I'll offer a snapshot of my relatively prosaic afternoon as a mean recompense for my usual wit.

... just took a walk down to the grocery store & back, and felt compelled to share the sites and sounds of my little trek.

The Walk Down:

1) The Not Nice Men. Well, that goes without saying because I stupidly began my walk along the café side of the street to avoid the beggars. Clearly, I was asking for it.

2) Death (okay, two near death experiences) both involving black Peugots. Well, that goes without saying because I stupidly decided to exercise my right as a pedestrian and cross a street where there were cars. For such hubris, I deserve to be punished.

3) The Beggars. Well, that goes without saying because I stupidly walked along the mosque side of the street after having risked death by crossing said-street, only to avoid the Not Nice Men who frequent the cafes on the other side of Follow the Leader - so really, that was my fault. Seeking alms in front of god's house is a prime real estate opportunity for our mendicant brothers and sisters, but there seemed to be more than the usual number out today, although the regulars were there: the mother with the hydrocephalic child, the blind man (ooops, visually challenged) in his crisp white jellaba, the assorted old crones who look like extras from Macbeth ...

The Grocery Store: For the curious, this is the Label Vie on Follow-the-Leader, the less salubrious instalment of a chain of minsicule grocery stores. Indeed, it has been nicknamed by a friend as 'the Dirty Label Vie' to distinguish it from its sparkling, wide-aisled brethern. All in all, it was a fairly benign (or at least, not a malign experience) today. True, I had to wait 5 minutes for my fruits & vegetables to be weighed, I was hipchecked & poked in the ribs by half a dozen people who just had to pass me (without excusing or announcing themselves) in aisles that are about 2 1/2 feet wide, a kamakaze kid with a kiddie-size shopping cart ran over me foot, and the woman behind the cheese counter sniggered at my French but they did have pretzels which weren't cooked in beef tallow and the check-out girl was abnormally generous in dispensing the plastic grocery bags - so who am I to complain?

The Walk Back:

1) The Dead kitten. Well that was just plain nasty. No one needs to nearly walk on top of anything dead (unless it's an ex) but dead kittens are particularly heart-wrenching. At least for me - I confess that I do have a colleague at work who refers to them as city-rats. All of R
abat's female cats that survived the last Stalinistic purge (remarkably, all of our neighbourhood cats disappeared one night) went into heat about 3 months ago and now a gazillion kittens are running amok. Evenings in Agdal are punctuated by the mewling of starving kittens - a questionable improvement on their mothers caterwauling in heat a few months back. I confess that I routinely carry cat food in my purse and am generally watched with incredulity by many a concierge as I dump turkey & giblets underneath parked cars and on sidewalks. *Sob* this little one was cute ...

2) The Beggar by the Boulangerie. Well, that goes without saying because I stupidly wended my way back so that I had to pass the bakery and she's a regular. I knew she would be there so I am either stupid, or subconsciously I wanted to see her. The last time I passed her by, I gave her my doggie bag of eyes-too-big-for-my-stomach pizza from that afternoon's luncheon, so I figured that my karmic debt (
vis-à-vis her) has been paid in advance until 2007. She was cramming a baguette into her mouth as she accosted me, so I didn't feel terribly guilty. That'll teach her to speak with your mouth full.

3) The Rooster. What can I say? - I could hear a rooster crowing from some backyard or apartment roof or balcony, as I walked the rest of the way home. In Agdal. Go figure.

4) Urinating child. Well that was just plain nasty. No one needs to nearly walk into anything urinating. Squatting in the middle of the sidewalk, she was doubled over watching her prodigious stream of pee splash the sidewalk, mesmerized as if she were watching the cascading majesty of
Niagara Falls. I guess a sidewalk is as good a place as any to defecate - especially when you're five years old. I mean, it's there and you have to go, and you're not wearing knickers anyway so it's pretty convenient ... as it turns out, she was the child of The Beggar by the Boulangerie. Next time I pass by, I'll toss some underthings her way instead of my pizza box.

5) The Rooster. Did I mention the rooster?

... that's about it. So glad the day was uneventful.


Blogger ticklethepear said...

I used to walk that way all the time because I got my hair cut at "Beauty Club." We ate once at the Syrian restaurant across from the mosque - not so great. I guess the woman with the hydrocephalic child alternates between Agdal and the area near the main train station. (The kid must be really big by now!) At least in Agdal it wasn't as difficult to find taxis as at Marjane (either one) or the other Label Vie.

5:58 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

The hydrocephalic child looks to be about 6 or 7. It's hard to tell because he's lays across his mother's lap. Poor kid.

6:07 p.m.  
Blogger ByronB said...

Good grief! Well, all I can say is the editor is a bloody fool!

Have you ever thought of asking for home delivery?

7:25 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

Ha ha! - thanks Byron - any chance you own shares in Penguin Books?

7:43 p.m.  
Anonymous Cath said...

Happy Firecracker Day. Wish you were here.
It's the May long weekend and despite fairly pleasant temps all month long, we hit a high of 6C and 7C today.
So take heart -- at least you aren't in Canada camping.

8:34 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

I hear it's chilly there. Temperature dropped to 19c here today. Quite the cold snap considering it's 40c in Meknes. Set off a firecracker for me but don't put your eye out!

10:15 p.m.  
Blogger knarf said...

Rabat sounds like a horrible place. I don't think you've posted once that hasn't told us of nasty experiences and people.

In fact, your travels within Morrocco don't sound so great, either.

Your working visit to the country in general and city in particular sounds to have been overwhelmingly negative.

I truly hope you're not planning on staying once your contract is up.

12:19 p.m.  
Blogger Amanda said...

Knarf -- Morocco is a lovely country. I can direct you to some other blogs and sites that show a different side of Morocco -- and even a different side/experience of Rabat. Sorry C, just for the sake of fairness from someone who loves it here (even if it has its extreme low points at times)... Rabat is not really Morocco per se -- it is your typical big city and is devoid of the charm and personality (and hospitality) of the interior.

1:33 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

I have had positive experiences in Rabat & in Morocco, and perhaps I have been remiss not to post them. I've used this blog as a means to vent, process and deal with the negativity. It is difficult to live abroad, bereft of your loved ones (be they family or friends) so this has been my coping strategy.

3:35 p.m.  
Blogger knarf said...

Sorry, C in R. As you'll see from my own blog from this morning, I was in a pretty pissy mood myself earlier.

I don't mean to question your motives or reasons for blogging what the way you do. As the author of same, you have every right to say what you do in any manner you choose to.

You must understand (and I know you do, I don't mean to talk down to you or patronize) that you have a large audience for your blog, which blog is both entertaining and educational. For many of us, you are the only contact we have with anyone in your part of the world, so I think your meanderings and musings are more meaningful than you may imagine.

BTW, you remember we were messengering about Yosemite Sam and his "Camels is so stupid!" cartoon the other day? I happened to see that very cartoon on the weekend, and it's supposed to have taken place in Morocco! When he first goes into the fort in the middle of the sahara to get Bugs, the drawbridge comes down, and there's a phone number on the wall that says "Morocco-4021" (or some such thing).

I got a laugh out of it, anyway...

Sorry I got so negative. It's my roomate's fault.

4:00 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

Knarf: thanks for your response. I confess that your previous comment (on whom I am happy to blame your room mate) really bummed me out & had me questioning my blog & whether I should continue it. I honestly don't consciously strive to "diss" Rabat when I sit down at the computer - it often just happens. As for continuing my contract, I have no choice because Chrisso is joining me in September - after that - who knows?

I should add that I have met some fabulous people here and seen a lot of amazing architecture. But there has been a lot of negativity and bear in mind that I am reacting to it as a single western woman. Chrisso's experiences here have been & will be very different than mine.

I guess I never thought when I sat down to write this blog that anyone but my family & friends would read it. For that reason, I didn't think of myself as an ambassador but rather saw my blog as a way to relate my experiences. The irony is, very few of my friends & family read this, and my audience is made up of an international community of strangers who randomly drop in. Some never return but many keep coming back.

I guess it wouldn't hurt to post my more positive experiences ... as soon as I have one, I will ;)

4:17 p.m.  
Blogger knarf said...

I know you're not dissing Morocco, C in R. I think that it's human nature that we tend to dwell on negative experiences sometimes.

I'm sure that you have had some good experiences there, and to be honest, some of them have come out through your blog - I think maybe I was guilty of some negative-dwelling myself (you're right, it's Karen's fault).

I wouldn't go so far as to say that you're any sort of an ambassador, but as we've both said, you have a large audience, and many of us only know of Morocco and Rabat through your blog.

That being said, you're posting from the particular perspective of a white, non-muslim female from the west, so it's natural that you're blog has a certain slant or viewpoint. As you said, maybe Chrisso will have different experiences when he arrives, and perhaps your perspectives will be experienced through a slightly different lens or filter once he arrives.

I certainly didn't mean to be discouraging; your blog is most entertaining and valuable to me and (if I may be presumptuous) to your other "regulars" as well. Please hang in there, and don't let my negativity get you down (any more than usual).

4:39 p.m.  
Blogger squindia said...

Hey Cat,

I understand your position but take heart in knowing that once you leave, most likely, you will be left with many good memories and longings for Morocco. I miss so many things and reading your entries I remember the things that bothered me but I still can't help reserving a little warm spot in my heart and head for Morocco and even Rabat. Just to name a few...

'safe taxis' (the rickshaws here in India have me fearing for my life)
yummy tap water
relatively clean streets(everything is relative but still, Morocco is clean compared to most places)
fantastic weather
delicious tea
amazing language learners
adventures or mishaps on every corner
diverse landscapes

4:41 p.m.  
Anonymous chrisso said...

Well, first of all, do people come to visit a blog to read about all the "good" things in that blogger's life? Television and newspapers have tried to put out only good news editions and they all fail miserably.

Having said that, and hopefully I'm not speaking out of school of here but C in R has had good experiences since being in Rabat but I don't believe it's necessary for her to post all of these "good Rabat" days. People like hearing good travel stories but it's the missadventures of travels that are most fascinating to others.

Having only been a visitor (and a male)up to this point I can say Rabat can be a difficult city and Morocco in general has a reputation of either total love or total hate with tourists.

We both had very positive travel experiences in Morocco in 2000 and I strongly believe that C in R's experiences will improve once I arrive - or at least I hope so :)

6:26 p.m.  

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