Just another night at the Jemma El Fna

On reaching the intersection we quicken our steps. We cross the busy road which brings us to a long walkway. The smell of horse dung stands out distinct from the other other different smells that pounds at our olfactory senses. A sea of people walk in multiple directions, oblivious to one and other. Merchants accost us, pushing their wares in front of us.
The end of the walkway opens into an large open square. We stop abruptly, unsure on how to continue,a little intimidated by what lies ahead. Behind us in a mosque an Imam calls the faithful to prayers. Above us the light fades as the sun slowly dips lower and lower. In front of us the snake charmers pack their wares, picking up their snakes and packing them into baskets woven of palm leaves. An entertainer locks a cage with a monkey inside; the monkey submissive of his fate.
Musicians walk across the square, each group laying claim to prime real estate before anybody else. They settle down, unpack their instruments and arrange chairs in a circle around them and call out to people. Somewhere in the square the drums sound out rhythmically. Closer to us a storyteller refuses to continue until people drop money into his upturned hat.A few oblige, most preferring to to stand by watching, waiting for someone else to partake of their money. The faint sounds of cymbals and an unknown( to me) wind instrument starts off slowly and in a few minutes reach a crescendo. At the same time the distant reverberating drums refuse to be muted. They work together to add to the sounds of the night. Each maintaining their unique sound without drowning out the other.
Lights come up in the far corner of the square reserved for the food stalls. Rows of competing food stalls pop up under pitched white tents selling the same dishes. The sounds of hot oil bubbling every now and then joins the cacophony of the vendors and the customers. Trapped smoke pries free of the canopy to escape between the gaps of the tents. It rises high into the air and melts into the night that has engulfed the evening.

The seven of us, aliens to this kind of energy gape with open mouths trying to digest the fact that this was after all just another night at the Jemma El Fna.

A culinary experiment

[This article was originally published in We are Holidays].

” It’s usually round” I tell Taeko as a way of an apology.

” Ohh! Its like the map of Australia” She squeals looking at the chappathi that I had rolled out.

We are standing in Taeko’s small kitchen. I am teaching Taeko how to prepare an Indian dinner of Chappathi and chicken curry. We are lacking a few basic ingredients like the atta to begin with.

” But is it not important?” Taeko had asked when I mentioned it to her before that start of our experiment.

” That’s alright” I reassured her.  “We can use a substitute like flour”. I  had spied a half empty packet of flour sitting on her kitchen shelf.

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You can read the entire article here.