jueves, 4 de febrero de 2010
Some Little Nonsense
Here I just share with you a nonsense short story inspired by the album Une éclipse totale de soleil, by french artist Ghédalia Tazartès:
I can't really remember why I had always wanted to come to Morocco. Actually I do, I just thought ignorance would definetely do a better starting line. Starting lines are quite important, manage to miss with your opening statement, and your reader would already be looking for reasons to call your story boring, or a cure for insomnia. But insomnia has nothing to do with my reasons for me coming to this country, nor does any classic film with Humprhey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. It actually all goes back to my last visit to the United States, when I tried to visit all that Epcot Center had to offer, and out of what I was able to see, the Moroccan representation was the one which left a bigger impact on me. The music, the architecture, and specially that funny hat just seemed to call me.
Anyways, when I finally got to Europe, I realized I was quite closer to Morocco than I would ever again be in my life, at least for a long time. So after spending half a year in Finland, my brother came from Honduras and I told him, ”How about some Rabat or Casablanca?”, he just couldn't say no.
Three weeks later and we were in a taxi taking us from Casablanca airport to the cheapest hostel we could find around. Trip was weird. We both sat on the back of a musicless cab, which stereo didn't seem to be the only problem, also the driver didn't seem to notice some metalic clank hit every now and then what seemed to be the pavement of the city. Actually the hostel was outside the city, through a road where on one side you had beautiful singing birds, and a noisy factory of I don't really know what, nor did the taxi driver. Actually the taxi driver didn't know anymore English than when talking about fees.
Maybe it was the heat. A heat I was not used to since Finland is not the sunniest place on the world, but my head started to hurt, and just when we got to the hostel, we seemed to arrive just in time for a performance of a child singing way off key. I tried to simulate sympathy, but was deeply annoyed by his singing. My brother on the other hand, didn't loose a chance to photograph. That's the way it works when you get to a new place, photograph every chance you get. Don't worry, it'll stop after a while. I still had the city traffic honking on my head, so I decided it was better to retire to my room than to stay and hear the new singer, an older man and what seemed to be his female companion singing some kind of prayer, which mixed with my mind racket's made a perfect ”going crazy” soundtrack.
Finally I was inside the room, which as is the usual in these places, was to be shared with my brother, and two other random strangers, which I still had to meet. Apart from night birds, the place seemed to be silent, until I realized it was actually placed beside the hostel kitchen, where a group of German youngsters where making quite a racket. Dishes, pans, beer bottles crashing together, the oven signaling something under cooking was ready, and a singing now and then. After a while, when I was just laying on my bed trying to isolate my mind, the party finished, and two of the German guys came to sleep, or at least to lay down on their beds. They did notice me, and believed I was sleeping, so started making some awful whispering, which seemed to be more audible than any beer chant. Then it came.
Someone was screaming in some point of the hostel. A fight was under way. Screaming! Screaming! Someone was screaming outside of a room, and whatever this person was saying, he wanted each room to know about it. I started to realize I really had not understood anything coming from a person's mouth since some hours ago. Wether it was french, german, arabic, berebere, etc. I just didn't understand, to me it all sounded the same. Incomprehensible.
I guess I must have fallen at sleep at some point afterwards, because next thing I was aware of was a silent room. Silent but for a drop of water falling somewhere on the adobe building, and what seemed to be an old guy praying. Long deep prayers that nobody else in the room seem to be noticing on their sound sleeps. I was about to wake up to go and complain, but then I realized the sound came from the neighbor's house. There was little I could do.
Next day I woke up, feeling weirdly hung over, although I had not touch a single drop of alcohol the night before. Today we had arranged with my brother that it would be a sightseeing day. Take a bus to the city center, have some nice traditional lunch somewhere, check the local music store, buy ourselves a souvenir, one of those hats maybe, and spent the night at some club, hooking up with tourist girls. However, I was just not feeling in the mood for this kind of schedule.
I remember quite clearly the rock music playing at the hostel that morning, and it sounded quite familiar, though couldn't exactly point what it was, or where it came from. I also recall that in the open air common room there was a man, who seemed to be selling what appeared to be pet monkeys. One of the Germans discussed in english with him, if it would be a problem at the airport, and the Moroccan salesman was prepared to give him all kind of tips in order to get his new pet all the way to Cologne. Monkeys were around doing what monkeys do, until the hostel manager came screaming, really mad, threathening to kick the salesman outside of the stablishment which rested under his belt, and under his responsability, he believed, was the well-being and the not being ripped off of his customers. Monkeys started screaming when the angry man came near their temporary owner.
I left the fauna-human drama inside, and went out, where surprisingly was more singing. That place outside the hostel must have been some kind of X factor audition or something, for the musical movement seemed permanent. However, in contrast from last night presentation, this time, the singer had to compete against a bus announcing it was leaving soon, an ambulance some streets nearby, and the local elementary school just across the street, where kids seemed to be repeating their lessons out loud. This place was quite noisy, maybe my country was too, but Finland was not, and such a contrast just seemed not just to hurt my ears, but to confuse them at the same time.
We have just arrived from a lousy trip at the town center. And to welcome us, a nice crying baby. The manager is trying to tell us something though he can't remember the words in English, and the baby crying on a lady's arms just doesn't make things easier. I should not move, maybe it's something important the manager wants to tell us ”what''s the word? Don't worry, it's not important” he says. My brother stays there talking with some new guest, and I go to my room, just to find the singing kid from yesterday hiding inside the room under one of the two-story beds. He sees I see him and makes me a signal to keep silence. He's obviously in some kind of hide and seek game. Another kid from around the same age comes near the door, exclaims something like ”Aha!”, and a big discussion between the two children starts. Not knowing if the one just found is cursing me or not, I push him outside of the room and head to my bed, where one of the german guys seems to have left all his luggage on top.
At town, i all went wrong. Bus filled with people, sweaty, smelly people, music at top volume, bus stopping every street corner, not to get anyone down, only inside. After what seemed like an eternal trip we got hungry to town, and went to what seemed to be a cheap restaurant, order what sounded exotic from the menu only to find ourselves with nasty rubber tasting food, an annoying flamenco guitar player who went mad at us when we left without tipping, specially since we were not that generous after a quite high bill. At the music store, the clerks had on some awful pseudo-metal stuff, which sounded like a horrible NWOBHM band singing in a foreing language. I even skipped my usual international CD buying this time, though not before trying another store, where they had the exact same god-awful song which was worse than your mother getting hurt. The shit was just ear splitting.
I was feeling sick. Probably the heat, probably the food, probably a whole dream trip gone wrong, and one which was filled with all kind of noise coming from everywhere. Really, when we left Casablanca's airport, not without hearing some other criminal rock song by what seemed to be the same band at the music store, I couldn't help but finding relaxing, deeply meditative, and heartwarming, the sound of the planes turbines defeating Moroccan soil.