I Wish I Better Remembered My Trip to Marrakech…

I always knew I loved to travel. Now I know I love to write. I also know that I really enjoy writing about my travels. But how can the two realizations be combined into one pleasurable continuum? Especially now that I don’t travel as much.

The exotic locales I have visited have only left blurry sepia-toned memories. Not vivid ones, where I could recall every minute detail. All I remember is how I enjoyed being there, how I was really there at a moment or two in time, it was me, or the person I used to be absorbing all that the experience had to offer at that time.

I remember Marrakech. My first business trip abroad, year 1994. I was so excited. I had been preparing for it for days. Asking co-workers how many people would attend this international convention, how to dress, how to prepare myself. They told me I would be surrounded by Europeans and that Europeans loved to dress up, that they didn’t understand the concept of “business casual”. I was told I needed floor-length gowns and not to be surprised if I saw a tiara or two on some gorgeously coiffed heads.

All this advice had me in a nail-biting, frenzied state. I didn’t own any tiaras or floor-length gowns. I couldn’t even afford all this just for a five-day long trip. So I did the best I could. Packed three large suitcases. One of them was just filled with shoes! This was the worst luggage carrying experience of my life! And in the end, as it turned out, all for naught. All others just had a simple carry-on bag that they didn’t even check in! And there was Roberto. Caught him suppress a guffaw every time he saw me struggle with my bags.

The Europeans were worse dressed than the Americans. The Austrian men were seen in things as outrageous as lime green trousers and yellow button-down jackets. The Hungarians and Romanians were uniformly dressed in black, sporting mournful expressions. They weren’t quite used to the first flush of capitalism and the unceremonious exit of Ceaucescu yet. The French and Spanish were all reed thin and simply attired except for a flash or two of color that lent credence to the fact that they are universally acknowledged as “stylish” the world over. They didn’t need an entire trousseau like yours truly! The German women just threw anything on, their armpit hair or legs rarely shaved. There were no tiaras at dinner and I was often more dressed-up than the others. I remember threatening to kill Roberto, my co-worker who had pulled such a prank on me with his tiara story!

As for the city, I really don’t feel I can describe with vivid imagery and poignancy the way it made me feel. It resembled India a lot. Their bazaars were like Chandni Chowk, Delhi. The shop-keepers were big fans of Mithun Chakraborty and the movie “Disco Dancer”. They used to burst into the song “I am a Disco Dancer…”, soon as they found out I was from India. They tried to sell me a “magic” carpet. Their sales pitches seriously insisting that their wares really were enchanted. My co-workers and I were enjoying their selling tactics and were humoring them. I remember one of them asking me to sit down on one of the rugs and that they would prove to me that it flew. So I sat on it. Two of them came forward, lifted either end of the carpet and started swinging me to and fro as if I was in a hammock! Then they looked at me with those beautiful Moroccan “we-told-you-so” eyes!

The other memorable Moroccan memory was that of seriously upset stomachs. Everyone had an episode of the runs. I have heard people complain about “Delhi Bellies” but this was also very “Moroccan Merde”!

All said and done, I would love to go back. This time, really absorb all the sights and sounds and write about the feelings the city inspired in me. With enough Imodium AD, I think it would be quite a memorable trip!

2 Comments

  1. You ARE quite the travel writer! Loved your descriptions, absolutely delightful!

  2. funny and exhilarating praaguu…the comments on europeans dress sense were not only funny but insightful too… i feel a pang of envy and wish i was in marrakech intead of roberto the prankster 😉


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