On Fridays just after midday, the streets of Mkch become awash with fine hand made Djallabas – the traditional long robes of the Moroccans.
In winter, dark browns and black predominate for men; often in wool with the head covering/hood symmetrically folded and allowed to fall gracefully over both shoulders.
For the finer examples, there is a hand made globe of linen with delicate thin three inch tassels swinging like a pendulum from the end of the hood.
The more rakish men leave the hood askew over one shoulder- that is the authentic Marrachi way- they are more hardy desert influenced people and sometimes use the hood to carry fruit or bread.
The symmetrical fold is the preferred way of the Fasi- that is those from Fez.
The traditional Berber Djallaba is made of a coarser wool. This gives it more texture and the cloth often has chalk stripes.
A fine pair of socks continue where the robe ends just above the ankles and the feet are shod in a pair of leather “Moroccan Adidas” aka Barbouche – the preferred color being yellow.
I have not had the courage to wear the full garb yet since my roommate is convinced that adding the Barbouche makes me look like an elf! So fine leather loafers it has been.
Soon after mid day, the call of the Muezzin is heard all over the ancient city, summoning the faithful to the Friday prayer in the numerous mosques.
For me, Friday late afternoon is a good time to find an outdoor cafe close to the magnificent train station on Mohammed VI Ave and watch the “Epicurean migration” while drinking mint tea and a crisp croissant.
This is about the time that the Red City fills up with visitors from Atlanta to Auckland and from Copenhagen to Cape Town. The tinge of excitement and anticipation on the faces of the visitors is palpably evident as they spill out onto the huge plaza in front of the station and make their way under the sturdy palms.
The majestic pillars supporting the roof of the main concourse in the station mimic the surrounding palm trees.
Some start their visit on a high note by taking a horse drawn carriage ride.
Is it not risible that the apellation, “Gateway to Africa”, has already been appropriated by others?
Ignorance is bliss!
The yellow Marrachi petit taxi cabs are then in full flight and often not enough for the visiting throng. Undeterred, the host of visitors start a purposeful march with their wheeled suitcases along the tree lined sidewalks to their destinations for the city is pedestrian friendly.
An iPhone or Android with GPS becomes an indispensable companion in this digital age.
Russians, Chinese, Europeans, Americans, a small sprinkling of Africans- all on a footed quest for the “Epicurean Protocol” that the Red City has provided for a thousand years.
Epicurus advocated living in such a way as to derive the greatest amount of pleasure possible during one’s lifetime, yet doing so moderately in order to avoid the suffering incurred by overindulgence in such pleasure.
The emphasis was placed on pleasures of the mind rather than on physical pleasures making it totally distinct from hedonism.
Perhaps, if you will, an “ethical hedonism”.
Is this not an important facet of living in or visiting the Red City?
Do the physical pleasures of Mkch (and there are a considerable number of them to rival any other city in the world) not enhance the mind and spirit?
In our age stalked by the Berlin truck driver, the Istanbul New Year’s eve shooter and other madmen and mad women, can we really believe that in Dante’s Divine Comedy, the flaming tombs of the Epicureans are located within the sixth circle of hell (Inferno, Canto X)- the first heretics seen and appear to represent the ultimate, if not quintessential, heresy?
Maybe we can ignore the above simplistic rant by Dante since we have already seen children spontaneously offer flowers to the Mkch police on New Year’s day for keeping the city safe.
I shall certainly visit the Epicurien again after midnight with my roommate; enjoy a steak with a Medallion Merlot, dance with the Halle Barry and Ursula Andress look alikes (who are there to “ginger up” the place) while smashing a tambourine on my thigh and round it all off in the Theatro.
But tonight let me salute Venus as she graces the night sky before setting at around 930 pm in the west. Then of course, the Katsura beckons for a light supper after placing a few aliquots of Jura on board again.
Thankfully, with the arm accessory, it is only a ten minute walk from the box.
Long live the Red City!