dispatches aperture poste restante etcetera

By Evelyn - 17 May, 1999

Page 3 of 3

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The city of Salé, across the river from Rabat, began to fill the scene outside our window. Fatima pointed out the places we should visit during our stay. More on her mind though, was a young woman two seats in front of us holding a baby girl, no more than 2 yrs old, wearing a single earring. Fatima said to me that back at the rest stop, she overheard the young woman speaking on the phone, crying. She was getting off in Rabat to stay with her mother because her husband no longer wanted her to come home. It hurt Fatima to see this as it reminded her all too much of her own experience just before her divorce. Even worse, Fatima also had a friend who came home one day after work and found that her husband had changed the lock to their house; the poor woman couldn't even get her things. An all too common story.

The bus pulled into the Rabat bus station. I was thinking about what to say to Fatima after coming to know such details of her life. Nothing seemed appropriate. We watched as the young woman collected her belongings, clutching her baby, and dismounted the bus. I got up from my seat and was thankful for my French and grateful to Fatima for saying just the right thing—"la prochaine fois!"—'til next time!

We've been in Rabat three days now. Immediately upon arrival, we noticed the city pulsed to a different beat than Fes. More cars, noisy mopeds, street vendors, general chaos. The people we see here are younger, look and act that way too. We see women and men talk together in the streets; some couples even holding hands. As many or more are in stylish Western clothing as in traditional dress. They appear happier, in expressions and demeanor. Or perhaps this is what I want to see?

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The local cinema is showing 'Sex Crimes', the Moroccan English translation of the American movie 'Wild Things'. Hmmmm. There is a plethora of French books available in Rabat. We wandered into a bookstore and I glanced at a display table of titles—'La Peur-Modernit: Conflit Islam et démocratie', 'Femmes du Maghreb au Présent', 'Femmes et Media', 'Etudes Feminines'... Encouraging signs that women are finding a channel into the collective consciousness of Moroccan society. I bought a book of writings by various young Moroccan authors, men and woman. What do they have to say?

Walking back to our hotel last night, Gregg pointed out an older woman in traditional dress on the street among the other vendors. She was selling Spice Girls posters. Could Fatima be underestimating the pace of change within society, or is it a generational difference? Don't these things we've seen in Rabat and would see more of in Casa say something about a modernizing society making gradual departures from the austerity of an Islamic society? In the end, won't it count for something more substantial and qualitative in womens' lives? Just how much do appearances count?




  Road to Erg Chebbi
  Il y a un feu!
  The Mauri Visa Game
  Rabat Run-in

  New York
    New York City
  West Africa
    The Gambia
  Middle East
    Palestinian Territories
    Eastern Anatolia
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    Pushkar Fair
    Madhya Pradesh
    Uttar Pradesh
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    (Rep. of China - Taiwan)
  USA - San Francisco, CA

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-- Paul Theroux
  © 1999/2000 ~ All frankfurters mustarded..