Saturday, March 14, 2009

Downtown in CIL

Of course my father has already sought out the English-speaking owners of most stores in the CIL area of their small town. With his French that a friend once told him is reminiscent of a Spanish cow, he manages to buy some aftershave from a small fragrance store and converse with a man who sells nothing but dried fruits and nuts. The latter salesman offers us samples of almonds, walnuts, dried apricots, dates and prunes. I’ve never met a date that didn’t make me gag from its fleshy texture, but these were heaven; glistening, chewy, sweet heaven. My father takes me around the corner where a man is almost completely sold out of his vegetables for the day, ensuring my father in very broken English that “More come tomorrow, monsieur.” My father points out the only small storefront that has fresh Serrano ham and bacon, and takes me past another butcher who smiles at us as he takes a long drag off his cigarette from behind the counter.

A left turn and past another butcher whose waiting area is covered with lounging cats, my father takes me his small but well-stocked wine merchant, a store called Nicolas. The man behind the counter stops his conversation with the stock boy and comes out to shake my father's hand. I learn he's spent some years living in San Diego, California, and his English is flawless. After a quick look around the store we tell him we'll come back later. We'll be needing wine for our trip to Marrakesh tomorrow.

After a pot of Moroccan mint tea and a discussion of digital copyright standards ("The two camps of thought are not, in fact, dichotomies." "This is exactly what Lessig discusses in this book REMIX, Dad. You'll have to flip through it when we get home.") we return to Nicolas, where a Spanish native who owns a cosmetics company in Hong Kong helps us pick out the best native Moroccan wine. 640 dirhams later (just a little more than $67 US) we have 6 bottles of red and white wine in a small case which we carry over to a small beauty salon owned by a local art aficionado. After allowing us an exclusive look at the art hanging in the walls of the upstairs office area and handing my father an invitation to a gallery opening next Wednesday, he offers his summer home in Azemmour for us to stay in sometime next week. After my father attempts to politely decline which ended in Said thinking my father wanted him to drive us to his place, we wandered over to O'Self, a small local grocer. I buy a toothbrush, and after paying the owner, in English, insists on inspecting and approving of my father's purchases. In a blend of French and English the grocery owner mildly approves.

As we exit the store, my step mother is pulling their minivan up outside. While embarking on the dark road home, they discuss intricacies of the roads in the area as I begin to worry that everything I am studying and everything I care about in the United States is utterly meaningless, especially to the woman who tries to sell us dusters and facial tissue from the center divider. To her, life is incomprehensibly different than mine, but it is all she knows. To her, life is simpler yet more taxing than anything I've experienced. This woman most likely has no concept of a digital representation of self. To her, life is only the people who purchase her grossly under-priced household items, and maybe a family to which she returns each night. To her, life is being dirtied by car exhaust and dust from the ditches alongside the highway. But to our white unsullied skin in the protection of the minivan, life is provided with people bending and catering to our sheltered selves.

1 comment:

Princess Leah said...

Love this entry. Feeling as if your life is not as authentic as another's is so common among artists that there should be a seminar about it for all fine arts students...just remember that the personal can be universal in the hands of a gifted writer.