Thursday, 20 August 2009


Visiting Marrakesh recently, I decided to eat at one of the thriving foodstalls on the Djemm el F`na, the old slave market site opening off the souqs.

It was barely dusk, but the famous square was already heaving with people. Water-sellers, acrobats, child-boxers, Moroccan families out for an evening stroll and of course thousands of scantily dressed tourists.

Picking my way through people wanting to sell me rugs, to extract my teeth and to tell my fortune, I stood in front of an array of delicacies grilling on the charcoal stoves: would I have liver or kebabs, squid or sardines, or maybe even half a lobster?

Finally I sat down at the end of a long, wooden table with a tin plate of crisply cooked calamares, salad and chips which was to cost me £3.

While enjoying my meal, I was able to observe the crowd, circumambulating the square like clothes in a tumble dryer.

One woman in particular caught my attention. Wearing a black veil and a turquoise blue djellabah, she kept passing my end of the table, disappearing, then reappearing a few minutes later.

When I stood up to pay, she darted over and snatched three chips I had left, stuffed them into her mouth and vanished.

I searched for the blue djellabah until it was dark. I wanted to buy her a proper meal, but I never saw her again.

c.Christine Osborne
Image: Place Djemm el F`na Marrakesh

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