East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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NO, not the 1930 movie directed by Joseph von Sternberg and featuring Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper. I’ll have to make a post about that (nice idea for a movie night tonight!), but this is something different, and there’s no Dietrich involved.

It went like this: I woke up this morning and there was a thick fog outside of my place. November-grade fog, due to the sudden heat after three days of continued rain. It was like a glass of milk had been poured over the courtyard. In the distance, the course of the Belbo was marked by a whiter stripe, where the humidity was more intense.
And in the fog, there was a very loud sound of an oud over a thumping disco beat, a male voice singing its heart out as my Moroccan neighbors prepared to go to work, the doors of their car open, the radio turned up to eleven.
They do it like that every morning: they get the radio going, leave the doors open, and then go back inside their place to have breakfast.

Then the church bell started sounding, it being 7 am, and the other neighbor’s dog started howling in response, and in all the sound and confusion I was suddenly reminded of the beginning of The Ninth Configuration, the movie based on William Peter Blatty’s Twinkle Twinkle Killer Kane (my favorite book of Blatty’s); the movie opens in a castle shrouded in fog, and the castle is a madhouse.

Then the bells stopped, the dog went back to growling to the cat that goes and sits just outside of the chained dog’s reach, and the neighbors took their car and went to work, carrying their music with them.
The fog lifted.
And as I checked my mail, I found a communication by Royal Air Maroc – tomorrow being my birthday and all that, they are offering me a return ticket for Marrakesh at 178 euro or to Casablanca for 204.

Weird coincidence, uh?
And it’s not like I can’t afford it right now, it’s more like I do not dare to spend the money, because I’m still proceeding without a map, and I can’t allow myself extravagant expenses, because accidents happen and…
But IT IS a weird coincidence that all these things clicked together this morning, and for a moment the temptation is very strong. I could afford it, and get a nice hotel for half the price of the ticket.
But it’s only a moment.
I’m reminded, among other things, that my ID card expires tomorrow.

Tonight I’ll console myself with Marlene Dietrich.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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