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How to tie a scarf in Morocco

My Scholarship entry - A local encounter that changed my life

WORLDWIDE | Thursday, 15 March 2012 | Views [254] | Scholarship Entry

On my last day in Marrakesh, a German traveller from my hotel has accompanied to this hammam (traditional bathhouse). Nude with shampoo in one of her hands and a dollop of soap in the other, she asks, “What should I do?” She repeats. I whisper, “Go with it.” She is led into another room.

A large woman with bouncing breasts slithers my body with black soap made from the resin of olives. Endless minutes of brisk scouring punishment follow. Heat rises from the satiny hand-polished limestone plaster floors and the hot water that is splashed at me washes away dead skin. I listen to the Arabic symphony of naked women gossiping with each other and parenting their children.

Now I wait in the cold change-room and study a mother lovingly tie a white scarf around her daughter’s head. This exquisite moment is the closest I have been to a Moroccan woman.

I track the woman’s capable hands that sculpture the fabric with precision to a position that emphasizes the prepubescent’s cheekbones. The daughter dutifully supports her hand where it has been placed. Mom swings another portion of the scarf over itself and around. These movements and gestures make up a poetry that has been danced everyday throughout the centuries.
The mother’s gaze soothes and comforts. She is strict and loving at the same time. With the bend of the triangular piece, presto the scarf holds itself closed. No knots are seen. Her daughter’s beauty is visible. It shines.

The young girl throws back her head and looks into the mirror. Love is showered onto the reflection. This is a precious depiction of joy of oneself. Her profile with generous lips shows the beginning of a pout upon her confident smirk. The scarf hides her dark hair and long neck. Below the scarf she is already in her pyjamas.

Outside in the city hustle, I tell my fellow traveller about my glimpse into the Moroccan female but words don’t do it justice. However I will never wear a scarf without remembering how to tie a scarf in Morocco.

Tags: travel writing scholarship 2012

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