Sunday, November 26, 2006

Door and Arch

Door and Arch, Fez, Morocco ©Tauseef Mehrali 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fez - Fes

It was about time the fake Leo Africanus trod in the original Leo Africanus' footsteps albeit courtesy of Ryanair.

Fez is a remarkable city predominatly due to the huge yet intense, bustling yet oasis-laden, medina, or old city - known as Fes al-Bali. I'm staying in a meticulously renovated town house in the heart of the Medina. The tranquil insulation it offers from the souq is amazing.

I'm making a habit of roaming through the marketplace usually ending up far off-piste by following the hyperstimulation of either my nose or retinae or both. I'm thankful to the orientation derived from a whistlestop, entertaining tour of the old city given by a precocious eleven-year old, Mahdi, yesterday evening. Architectural wonders that you catch fleeting glimpses of in Andalusia are the norm. Strange characters that would easily inhabit the literary world of say Allen Poe are even more common. People-watching in Fez could be marketed as a lifestyle, or even a full-time (pre-)occupation.

The unseasonally warm days (mid-20°C) and jumper-requiring cool nights lend the whole day to exploring. My palate is re-adjusting to the flavours of Maghribi cuisine and my tastebuds are pleasantly tantalised. The mint tea here has been a particular revelation, each glass sporting a jungle of fresh spearmint. Touts are bemused by my Franco-Arab hybrid language and are struggling to place me - Saudi, Algeria, Syria are variants from the "Bakistani?" overture. My inner-Berber is still lying somewhat dormant though. Maybe a fetching pair of yellow leather slippers will see to that?

Time to hit the streets again! Au revoir et ma'assalaam.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A case of mistaken identity

During a particularly busy night shift last week I was summoned to the delivery suite. The midwives wanted me to attend because the baby was being born through thick meconium and being vacuumed out with a ventouse, placing it in a higher category of risk than a 'normal' birth. I flipped into emergency mode and proceeded at breakneck speed to the labour ward.

I entered the room in question purposefully and strode towards the resuscitaire in anticipation of the newborn. As I passed the labouring woman and introduced myself I caught site of what I imagined to be her baby being delivered and the old alarm bells started ringing. In fact my internal siren was blaring. The baby appeared deformed, inhuman, almost alien-like in its lack of distinguishing features. I started rummaging through my mental archives for syndromes and conditions that could result in such an appalling condition. I was considering calling my registrar to join me in what was turning into an incredibly delicate and potentially intensive situation.

My feelings must have made themselves evident by breaking through to the exterior as the midwife asked me in a concerned tone:

"Are you alright doc? You look a bit shocked!"

The question prompted a swift re-evaluation of the scenario and metaphorically (and maybe even literally) stepping back I noticed that a baby was already lying on the mother's chest trying to hold on to the vestiges of its nine months of symbiosis. The penny suddenly dropped. I turned to the midwife and exclaimed:

"That's the placenta isn't it?!"
"It sure is doc. It sure is." She replied, triggering off a crescendo of warm laughter.

My bleep went off again and I left one moment of surreality for another.