Monday, April 1, 2013

Few blocks...worlds apart

There is a large North African population in Marseille. The association goes back a long time and I don't know the history, although I intend to learn about it. This pocket of France is a world in itself, separated from the rest of the country by the lovely hills surrounding it and the sea bordering its south.

A few blocks away from the city centre is a metro station called Noailles. It is within walking distance from where we live. As you walk towards Noailles, you will see massive transformation; from wealthy tourists sipping wine to the Maghreb in long flowing garments selling their wares and tending to their shops; from women in tight clothes and fancy boots to ladies in the burqa with matching head scarves in places and beautiful, observant kohl-ed eyes.

There is a Vietnamese store in one of the streets here where we found an abundance of everything you'd typically find in an Indian kitchen. We walked in the little streets of this area and chanced upon a store that had everything! In every city in the world, there is going to be a Macy's or a Lifestyle or some other fancy store. And then there are going to be these small shops that are filled with things till the ceiling and offer more choices at less prices.

If you look up 'Noaille' on the internet and do some reading, you will realize not only the dangers but also the beauty of this area. I read the following piece here and couldn't help copying it.

"The city’s unofficial anthem could easily be “Sous le Ciel de Marseille” (“Under the Sky of Marseille”), by a young Algerian-born pop star, Kenza Farah. Sung in both French and Arabic, the song is a tender homage to the city’s bouillabaisse of cultures:

Marseille you are like a mother to me
You welcome me with open arms
Marseille, mix of colors
Consoles all who have suffered."

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