Freezing a Few Moments in Marrakech

If I could freeze this moment, I would.

My two beautiful daughters sitting next to me on a comfortable low sofa and quibbling over non-sequesters. Wasima sits across from me, watching her white Apple Notebook.

The sun is bright outside on the Moroccan patio with a fountain brimming over with the gentle noise of bubbling water and rose petals on it. I can see the patio through a Middle-Eastern style carved wooden door. There are a couple of sparrows flying around the fountain. The glass beads hanging from the chandeliers are playing their own music from the blowing cold air of the air-conditioner.

It’s almost 1 pm here.

We just finished a wonderful breakfast with light, sweet yogurt and some sweet bread (parathas), hot tea and freshly squeezed orange juice.

We don’t have an agenda for the day; should we go for a Hammam? Look for more artifacts in the Medina to carry back home? Maghreb prayers at the Qutubia mosque (a thousand year old)? A stroll through the vibrant Djema el-Fna (central square)?
Or, just a dip in the pool? Another long nap in the afternoon?

No worries, no agenda whatsoever.

Shania pitter patters over to ask for more hot chocolate…because she just wants to play… she is four.

Daiyaan is on her iTouch waking up her friends in Boca or Denver.

These are moments that make life worth living. This is why it is worth working so hard, for the whole year. Just to take in this moment. Why can’t we just freeze the moment in time?

I heard that life is all about building memories. We haven’t seen any magic mountains or “super duper” palaces here. But the warmth and hospitality of the Moroccan people, coupled with wonderful couscous or Tazin (preparation of chicken, lamb or veggies in a sauce) and the colorful markets are embedded in our memories in technicolor.

We are staying in one of the old, converted Moroccan homes. Riad Kniza, is one of the few Riads still owned by a Moroccan (www.riadkniza.com). The atmosphere is resplendent with authentic touches: antique rugs, chandeliers, silverware and paintings everywhere. Marble floors and high ceilings made of carved wood, keep the environment unusually cool.

The courtyards with bubbling water fountains coupled with the marble walls and arches with fine worked alabaster, reminds you of an old glamorous “Jomidar Bari” of Bangladesh. The narrow rotating staircase in our “Amber Suite” reminds me of the staircase in my grandfather’s house, an old home in Purano Dhaka.

Marrakech has 1.4 Million people in ~ 6 square km. 6 Million tourists visit this dry-desert city every year. Quaint, antique shops, clothes stores, thousands of mosques, the sound of Azaan five times a day, dry heat and dust in the summer (cold in the winter), snow capped Atlas Mountains (within 2 hours), eerily creates an Arabian Nights version of dry desert Denver.

There is greenery around (due to the gracious underground irrigation canals constructed over 800 years ago from the high Atlas snowcaps), but you can never forget the dry heat in June.

People here are always friendly, always respectful (hardly ever making direct eye contact) … gracious hospitality and a smile.

You can enjoy great French or Mediterranean Couscous wherever you want. Moroccan salads are elaborate: little bowls filled with amazing dishes (almost like Bangladeshi bhartas); you dip in the bread and try some of this, and some of that.

Walking through the souks in the Medina is an adventure by itself.

Pottery display at the Souks

Thousands of shops, and artisans in every alley. A little moped zips by you, or a bicycle rings its bell, and then you suddenly see an old man pushing his donkey, carrying goods from who knows where. Leather belts, silver filigreed tea pots or mirrors, clay goods, art, rugs, spices all sold side by side. You will also see the elaborate fruit stands, bakeries, fresh markets of fish, vegetable and meat. There is no identified “bakery section” or “frozen section” like your neighborhood Publix. It’s a series of contradictions, living in harmony, as if that’s all life is about.

The Berber tribes and now the mixture of Berber/Arabs live here side by side. From casual conversation, it appears that the people here love their native land; they also appreciate the King (Mohammed VI) whose family has ruled the land over 500 years.

Tolerance seems to be the key nomenclature of the day. Women clad in all sorts of clothes (tourists/locals) walk around the street and ride their motorcycles; modern cafes, bars and discotheques are everywhere. Morocco welcomes tourists with open arms. French is everywhere; Americans are just arriving (now that Brad Pitt has shot Babel in the outskirts of Marrakech). This contrast of culture, weather and the reality of co-existence, makes Marrakesh a wonderful stop for a few days.

Tomorrow we start our journey back; first, back to London for a few days, to acclimatize to the harshness of the western wind. Then, after a long flight, back home in Lighthouse Point. At least we will be back in sunshine and warmth and the blue ocean on our doorstep

I know this is not reality.

I am not complaining about my reality.

But for the sake of memories to cherish , I wish I could freeze these moments forever. These pitter patter of feet, this deep weight of someone inclining on a pillow on my shoulders, these bright cheerful petals on the fountains….

It’s time for a dip in the pool….

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