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Marrakech – The Last Stop of the Quartet

Thanks to our joy of basking in Essaouria, the days at Marrakech [pronounced as ma-ra-kesh] got curtailed to an overnight stay sandwiched by an afternoon and a forenoon. But at the end we were happy to have made it to it, thanks to all that we heard from Abdelhadi – the friend we made during our sojourn to Fez, and take away with us a feeling of having been there and seen it. Marrakech, which was the capital of Morocco during the 11th-12th century AD [or thereabouts], has a distinctive vibe of its own. For that matter every Moroccan place that we had been to has a very distinctive flair of its own. Casablanca – flurry of business activity and certainly more people on the streets; Fez which has two lives of his own anyways – one a relaxed French colony [without Frenchmen] and another medieval city, Essaouria – is more of the rejuvenating hamlet, with the pace of life slow as a turtle’s marathon race.

What most strikes oneself, as one steps into Marrakech are the red coloured buildings [all buildings are red coloured] and the cream coloured taxis [Petit and bigger ones!; they were red in Casablanca/Fez and blue is Essaouria]. This is visible, even by the time, one notices the lovely paved roads and fountains in almost every crossing [by the way fountains seem to be ingrained in the Moroccan character, one sees them in every city – if not every crossing] – not to mention of the distinctive architecture of the older buildings [which is a mix of the Persian and European architecture].

Marrakech, has its own Medina [old city] too. Unlike Fez / Essaouria, there are no pretensions of its being a walled city. It is all porous, no walls at all – certainly literally and to a larger extent figuratively. The dressing sense, body language and the shops would almost mirror what are seen in the main or modern Marrakech. Despite this, the Medina of Marrakech is distinct. One is the rich array of all hues. Seemed to me more expansive Essouria – as if people go to Essaouria to relax and come [via 3 hours bus drive] to Marrakech to shop. Well, it transpired to us many people stay in Marrakech and do a morning evening to Essouria. In fact in the Medina [Kasbah Road] I saw the most fabulous shop for tourists [antiques, local based decorative material etc] ever. It would beat Kalpa Druma [Cathedral Road, Chennai – one of the best of its kind in India] or the ones near Hawa Mahal, Jaipur – by a huge margin. This shop is probably of more than 50,000 square feet, with well polish and well laid artefacts. The customers serviced by polite and knowledgeable ladies – some of whom even speak a smattering of English. This was a well organized retail shop and would give some of the Lifestyles a run. An interesting part about the shop is that the prices were comparable [probably less] than the smaller proprietor owned shops which we saw else where [this normally doesn’t happen in India – a well bargained deal in a roadside shop, will be cheaper than a well lit showroom!!].

Well the shopping, was good. But the best part of Medina is the night!! life. It is a different verve of its own. The jesters, the charmers, the mocktail counters are there in full measure. Not like the ones you see in disc, especially with hordes of inebriated patrons. In Marrakech, one sees all of that and more, under the open skies. Charmers [of the reptile variety], jesters of real variety playing practical pranks or jumping around with monkeys and arrays of counters [selling orange juice and street food]. Its like having the ‘Mela’ or ‘Bali Yatra’ everyday. Am sure you can now imagine the full. We were told it goes late into the night. People in facebook, would now know where I got my profile picture clicked. This is a place, where probably one can stroll down for a whole evening, sip juices at the stall or Moroccan tea in the nearby cafes. There are some many intriguing nooks [in the vast open space!!] with interesting people and more interesting antics – that one can probably have one full movies and a few dozens pages of a book revolve around them. But let me just limit it to these few lines. 

As in Essaouria, there were some memorable personalities that we will remember in the memories for a long long time. Abdul [as we ended up calling Abdelhadi] was awesomely endearing. Yes, he was a fellow traveler during Fez and who almost insisted we make it to Marrakech. He created a reputation and lived upto it. He showed us around his city – the Royal Heritage Theater, the parks, the streets and the Medina [which I have already described]. He is certainly a gem. In the Royal Heritage Theater we met a stupendous personality – Mohamed Polis [a Palestanian painter]. He was exhibiting some of his beautifully provoking paintings - incl. that of a woman, who by her startle is conveying her dismay of the violence and depredation in the world. Talking of personalities I must talk of the enchanting Hamzoui family and the lovely little girls [Kine and Lina] whom we met during breakfast.

That was Marrakech, till we bit it adieu - vide the extremely beautiful and well maintained train station – and we moved on to Casablanca. That also brings are end to the quartet of posts on Moroccan cities. There will probably a couple more posts on the impressions that I carry from the country. Generic ones. I would like to go away from Morocco for sometime and write these ones from afar.

June 27, 2010


  1. You seemed to have picked up the Moroccan diction quite well..All the names are quite confusing!but, what a piece yet again!..Beautiful!..WOuld love to see them in pictures now...Ur posts are getting us all inquisitive

  2. ok anna..ll gv u the links...focus on n pics n not the ppl :


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