Casablanca : the heartbeat of a city


I had some pictures of Casablanca in my mind, all related to the legendary movie with Bogart and Bergman. During the long walk we had with Carol, I could hear Ilsa saying “Play it, Sam. Play “As Time Goes By”. Before we left, we had a lunch. A wonderful tagine my stomach still remembers. We were in a restaurant somehow looking like a palace of Arabian nights.

We went through the Medina, a neighborhood made of shops, noise, tight streets and poverty. Carol and I had a (short) debate when we saw a man lying on the floor. Should I take this picture as a testimony of the dark side of Morocco? What about human dignity? I finally didn’t take the photo and we went to the Hassan II mosque. In front of the Ocean, the biggest mosque of Africa appeared behind the buildings of the city and offered us its magnificence. Made by the hand of he man, a mystic halo surrounded the minaret. Was it coming from the building or from Carol? Feel free to decide.

Near the esplanade, young kids were diving from 8-10 meter high, swimming in the tumultuous Atlantic Ocean. Carol and I both hoped the Ocean was deep enough. And fortunately it was.

As soon as I took this picture, I though of Baudelaire’s poem, the Albatross:

Often to pass the time on board, the crew

will catch an albatross, one of those big birds

which nonchalently chaperone a ship

across the bitter fathoms of the sea.

Tied to the deck, this sovereign of space,

as if embarrassed by its clumsiness,

pitiably lets its great white wings

drag at its sides like a pair of unshipped oars.

How weak and awkward, even comical

this traveller but lately so adoit –

one deckhand sticks a pipestem in its beak,

another mocks the cripple that once flew!

The Poet is like this monarch of the clouds

riding the storm above the marksman’s range;

exiled on the ground, hooted and jeered,

he cannot walk because of his great wings.

We joined the Corniche, dominated by a lighthouse. Around, a sort of village which was actually a barrack for Moroccan navy. There, we had a chat with three people but I guess Carol will find better words than me.

Few feet further, we were attacked by a man and a girl, each having a gun in his hands! I wasn’t that scared, I had to protect Carol from these terrorists. I told them that I would not give them one single dirham. If they refused to step back, I would have to kill them both. The woman, charming, confessed me that she would love to replace her partner with his ridiculous tail by a fearless half-bald man. I felt insulted by the adjective “bald”, I had to attack the two attackers. For real, it was a shooting, co-produced by France and Morocco. The details and the purpose of the film remain unclear to me. We were told about a short movie promoting Morocco- but why the hell the guns and the explosions? Carol and I may develop a story about this close encounter of the fourth kind.

The way back to the hotel seemed a little long but how pleasant I was after a day in train stations and airports! We could breathe the fresh air of the Ocean, the water endlessly crushing to the rocks. I pointed the invisible line between the sky and the sea and I guess I had a vision of Eternity over few seconds.

I promised Carol we would see the Rick’s café where Bergman tells her famous “play it Sam” to Bogey. In fact, I got lost in the Medina and we were lucky enough to fall shy the café. It’s no more the original one and it is deprived of any particular atmosphere. Just a café like another but I had to take some pictures for posterity.

According to strict esthetic criteria, Casablanca wouldn’t be considered as a beautiful city. It is a puzzle of wealthy districts deprived of history and poor neighborhoods full of life. In these neighborhoods, each street tells several stories through a look, an improvised chat, a road, a sound, an odor… Like a woman embellished by age, wrinkles giving her a deeper temper, Casablanca has this unique, indefinable, unspeakable particularity: it has a soul.


8 Responses to “Casablanca : the heartbeat of a city”

  1. mabrouckrachedi Says:

    Probably a bug, I can’t write anymore in the blog. What a pity, you won’t have the “moral” of the story and you will never know where I hanged out tonight! I have to sleep now, you will easily recognize me: the tired man with red eys.

  2. mabrouckrachedi Says:

    Probably a bug, I can’t write anymore in the blog. What a pity, you won’t have the “moral” of the story and you will never know where I hanged out tonight! I have to sleep now, you will easily recognize me: the tired man with red eyes.

  3. Weina Says:

    Mon prophète !!!
    je suis tellement KO que je n’ai pas le courage de lire et traduire, j’espère tout simplement que tu vas bien, tu me manques, mais de toute façon je n’ai plus 5mn pour facebook… et puis ce réseau me déçoit…
    Pourquoi tu n’écris qu’en anglais ???
    Je t’embrasse… @ très vite j’espère !

    • mabrouckrachedi Says:

      Coucou ma muse !

      Que ca me fait plaisir de te lire ! Tu vas bien ?

      J’ecris en anglais parce que je suis dans un programme d’ecriture ou tous les ecrivains sont anglophones. J’essaie d’arracher a mes doigts gourds des mots qui ressemblent vaguement a quelque chose. Mais je n’arrive toujours pas a trouver les accents a ces satanes claviers qwerty ! Tu peux parfaire ta formation en anglais avec ce blog meme si tu devrais faire attention a mes posts, ils sont remplis de fautes.
      Bises et a bientot.

  4. Peter Small Says:


    I enjoyed the accounts that both you and Carol gave of your day. In regards to your dilemma about whether to take the picture of the man, you probably made the correct decision not to take his picture, but even if you had I’m not sure it would have said anything particular about Morocco. You can find men sleeping on the street in just about any city, including the writers’ Shangrai La of Iowa City.

    • mabrouckrachedi Says:

      Hi Peter,

      What a surprise! You’re right, I’ve never taken these kind of pictures in Paris so why in Casablanca? If I was such a good photographer as Tracey, I may have found an angle, a depth to my photo but I’m not gifted for graphic things, I let them to people who have skill for that. Anyway, hope you’re fine.

  5. kobi Says:

    She didn’t say bald, she said half-bald! 😉

    Re: the man, I cannot fully agree with Peter Small on the appropriateness of snapping the shot. I think it depends not only on the composition of the photo, but also how and when you use it.

    p.s.: I like this group blog effort. Since it comes to my feed reader, I’ve had the opportunity to read other postings besides yours, and if the writers don’t mind, I’ll leave a comment here and there for them, as well.

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