What is it that my travel dreams always lure me to Africa… is it some ethereal, spiritual pull towards the cradle of civilization? Or is it my Wilbur Smith novels induced and National Geographic fed imagination running wild in my sub-conscious? I know not what it is…but I thoroughly enjoy these wonderful armchair sojourns to these beautiful places. And I make it a point to note them down in my travel diary… waiting for that moment when I get the opportunity to drag my sweetheart and his camera to these wonderful destinations.
It all started with a lovely Moroccan lamp which I saw in the Friday market here (in Kuwait) some time ago. The dreamer in me immediately was spinning tales about the history of the lamp and how it got to the flea market… this trait in me is something my schooling has cultivated in me… mainly the Hindi lectures and exams where we were to write essays on the aatmakatha (autobiography) of some non-living object.
I don’t know why but when I close my eyes and drift in to the Moroccan world, the first image I see is that of an ornate sandstone structure with a bright blue door… maybe it has to do something with the number of pics about Morocco I have seen…all with houses with beautifully decorated facades and bright blue doors. The color blue repels evil… and a blue door should keep all those evil spirits from entering your abode. I wish life was that simple.
But as I enter through those ornate blue doors, I pass in to another world… a sea of orange and caramel sands… undulating dunes stretching as far as the eye can see. Like a dream in a dream, I sleep-walk through the winding valleys formed by the sand dunes, the morning sun glinting on the sand and the rising heat causing shimmering mirages… of a wispy camel caravan led by men and women in colorful robes and headgear. As I move closer the mirage is dispelled to show tanned, wrinkled but bright and happy faces of the Bedouins. Their camels loaded with Moroccan treasures… beautifully crafted metal and glass lamps, lovely rugs and carpets and silver jewelry, hookahs and other treats and trinkets. It all seems straight out of an Arabian Nights’ story which it well might be.
Walking with the caravan as far as the market place, the desert turns in to an oasis… a riot of bright colors… the shamianas that provide the shade and a place for the tribes-people to sell their wares. The colorful yurts that are provided for a weary traveler to rest are decorated wonderfully enough to suit any Saladin (I don’t think he has any links with Morocco…well, his loss, I might add). I am lost among the riches.
On the horizon sandstone and mud houses form an intriguing skyline… it is evening… the setting sun once again turns the sand to gold… alchemy before your eyes. The night falls with a different sort of alchemy… the gold turning to silver… a silver moon watching over silver sands.
It is time to wake up now.
© Surya Murali