Day 26 – The one with all the innovation

Today we visited the University of Hassan II Casablanca.

We had organized a Innovation camp for the science students which included the famous Shopping Cart Challenge.

The students were intelligent, motivated and ingenious. They “ideated” a shopping cart with solar energy, usable for the handicapped, environmental friendly and a ton of other features. It was an inspiring day for all of us.

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Students of University of Hassan ll

We headed to fill our grumbling tummies with some yummy camel burgers! Another trip to the medina and that concluded our rather long day.

I tucked into bed with a cup of hot tea and realized I couldn’t sleep thanks to the noisy din in Dani’s room!

The noisy din was a combination of laughter, teasing, singing, dancing, drinking and playing ‘Heads-up’! It was a fun evening 🙂

As much there were smiles all around, the realization of going away was sinking in.

I bet a 100 dirhams that Samy will be the first one to cry! #crieralert

Juani bets I’ll follow. Well, I’m one tough cookie. We’ll see 😉

P.S: One day left to go 🙂

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Day 24 – The one with the surprise Edition No 2

I walked into office today assuming today is going to be a “put-your-head-down-and-work-all-day” kind of day. I dressed accordingly – Red top, casual jeans and red shoes (Yes, I own red shoes!).

Our client casually walked in to inform us that the Final presentation to the Director General, CEO of ANAPEC which was supposed to happen on Wednesday (tomorrow) was happening TODAY!

As you can imagine I thought of all things I could do:

1. Go back to the hotel and change – that would take me 3 hours – time that I could use to work instead.

2. Go buy some decent pair of shoe – We work far away from commercial hubs

3. Make a joke about it – well my joke would have to be translated to French and frankly my jokes aren’t even that good in English let alone in French!

4. Let your work speak for you (and maybe hide behind a table)

So, I went with option 4.

Today Youssef – Director of Communications decided to take us out for an Italian lunch. Now, I am wary about Moroccon food because one portion is enough for 5 people and you’re forced to eat it anyway because it tastes so good!

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Clockwise: The salad (the size of Africa itself!), dessert, Poulet Pasta, Nous-Nous Coffee!

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Well, have I told you our clients are THIS cool 😉

We presented to the Director General in his office and thankfully were seated during the discussion! I didn’t have to make any jokes and I’m glad about it!

The Director General loved our work and promised to implement our strategies right away. It felt liberating and encouraging. Sort of like the validation was necessary after all the effort we put in.

Today has been a good day 🙂

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Together we can!

Day 23 – The one with Edition No. 1

It’s the last week and final presentations are due! Like you’re running a marathon and have paced yourself through the race and just want to sprint to the finish line!

All teams have scheduled their final presentations for Monday and Tuesday. But we – the lucky ones get to present at least 3 final presentations this week. Too many finals? Tell me about it!

We felt really proud of all we’ve done in the past few weeks (OH-MY-GOD-WE’VE-DONE-A-LOT!) I don’t think any of us thought we’d be able to cover the huge scope of work but we ended up finishing the entire project just like we’d planned to in week 1. No time to gloat or rest, we’ve bigger things coming up this week!

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With the team after Final Presentation No. 1

Day 21 and 22: The one with the quick getaway and the long Sunday

All our teams have a ton of work to do. Final presentations loom over our shoulders for next week. A one day quickie to Marrakesh and a working Sunday back at the Casablanca hotel was our only bet.

It is our last weekend together and we didn’t want to pass up the opportunity of another mad trip 😛

After a beautiful train ride we landed in touristy Marrakesh. What you’ll miss in Marrakesh is predictability and all sense of direction. Never mind: you’re better off without them here. The main attraction – Djemaa el-Fna is a big square with snake charmers, food stalls and other knick-knack sellers. If you head into the maze of souqs you’ll find authentic moroccon souvenirs and an experience of your lifetime.

We spent the day roaming the streets of the medina with our Tour guides – Jane, Masa and Juani who led us to the beautiful garden Palace Bahiya. We grabbed a quick 3hr lunch (see what I did there?) and headed back to Casablanca.

We aren't allowed inside the mosque? Oh well, a Groupfie in front of it will do :P

We aren’t allowed inside the mosque? Oh well, a Groupfie in front of it will do 😛

The spice girls of Marrakesh!

The spice girls of Marrakesh!

The Medina Boys!

The Medina Boys!

It was a really short trip but an entertaining one.

Sunday was possibly my most favorite day of all days in Casa!

I woke up without the alarm, got dressed without hurrying, had a leisure breakfast instead of spilling cereal all over myself, lounged around a bit and worked to finish presentations.

Tany and me went to visit the local market and it was entertaining! Being with Tany makes me feel like I’m 12, unapologetically! She’s fun to be around and have real conversations with. I’m glad to have met her 🙂 who else would force me to make crepes at a local stall!

Tany and me :)

Tany and me 🙂

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At the spice store

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We were famous!

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Look! I found a big fat chilli!

We ended our small city market tour by buying Argan products at a store, met more people fascinated with Bollywood (!) and then, I decided I wanted to make Egg Burji (masala Scrambled eggs). I shopped around for veggies and found gigantic chillis (yay!) and I couldn’t wait to come to the hotel to whip something up.

Boiled Egg Burji

Boiled Egg Burji

I realized 2 things:

  1. You know you’re a true Indian when you crave spicy food and the big fat chilli at the market seems like the tastiest thing in the world!
  2. But you also know you’re not housewife material (at all!) when you buy boiled eggs and not raw eggs for an Egg Burji!

Anyway, I’m going to pretend my boiled egg burji was as good as the original.

By evening we settled down at the lobby for some hot mint tea – courtesy Sarah (isn’t she so sweet) and the mint tea session turned into a pizza dinner. It was a day well spent.

Next week this time, I’ll be back home. As much as I look forward to that, I’ll miss my “family” here in Morocco 🙂

One week left. Here we go 🙂

“What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne

Day 16 – 20 : The ones with the fast forward button

Work is shaping up well. Recommendations are being firmed, discussions and more discussions are being held. We’re almost in the last leg of the race and it feels like we’re almost running out of time.

This week I accomplished something that I am very proud of, a brand content strategy 🙂 My favorite part of the week was to put together that beautiful 11pg document. I know what you’re thinking – “such-a-nerd” 😉 but trust me I loved the whole process of “being-clueless-confused-somewhat makes sense-this is too hard-come on you can do it-almost there-EUREKA!” 🙂 I have a good feeling about this one!

In the midst of a very busy week, we celebrated St. Patricks day thanks to Jane!

She set up her room, we got the refreshments, Jordan got the music, Samy got the moves and we were all set. It was a fun night in the middle of the week 🙂

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I took the green theme too far didn’t I?

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Dicky bow show offs 😛

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Our beautiful host 🙂

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The green elves of St. Patricks day!

The green elves of St. Patricks day!

Tired. Exhausted. Looking for a serious break.

We leave to Marrakesh this weekend and I am truly looking forward to it!

Day 14 – 15: The ones where I bought the Medina!

Fes, the imperial city is the capital of traditional Moroccan culture. Cradle of knowledge, for which its superb medersas are a flamboyant symbol.The Medina (old town) is called Fes el-Bali and behind its high walls is a magical, medieval city just teeming with life in every one of its 9000 narrow streets! We were told to hire a guide because it was seemingly easy to get lost in those narrow inroads.

We landed in Fes late at night and hit the hippest club in town (by the lonely planet guide)! Well, the club seemed a lot better after rounds of hookah, beer and a lot of dancing of course! Samy moved like Shakira and taught us some groovy steps. We danced some and then some more 😀

The hotel we stayed at creeped me out. It had the 90’s “serial-killer-in-a-motel” vibes. Long never ending corridors, doors that jam easy, silence and sudden swooshy noises by the wind, distant music and totally eerie. In my head I imagined every person I passed by in the hotel (they weren’t many people other than our team) to have this look on their face that said “I’m-going-to-be-nice-to-you-now-but-I’ll-get-you-later”, if you’ve watched the terrifying movie Child’s play you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s safe to say I was petrified. Having Tania as my roomie – helped. A LOT.

I woke up at the crack of dawn (for obvious reasons) and waited for the rest of the party to get ready for our cultural tour.

Our guide explained the culture, history and origins of Fes. We popped by The Medersa Bou Inania, which was built in the 1300’s and has some beautiful examples of Merenid plasterwork and woodwork. The joy of old Fes is turning down little alleys and feeling completely lost yet completely at home in that vast Medina!

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Fes is famous for its leather products and most of it comes from the leather bazaar (souq) in old Fes. The tanneries have been in operation since medieval times and little has changed, which makes them absolutely fascinating to visit. I didn’t know how I felt about all the carcass lying around but it was an experience I won’t forget.

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Tannery in Fes

In order to visit the tanneries you have to head into a leather shop filled to the brim with handbags, jackets and slippers of every conceivable design and color known to man. Sprigs of fresh mint are an essential accoutrement when you visit the tanneries since the animal hides are stinky, and the pigeon poop they’re treated in doesn’t smell so sweet either.

We all split into smaller groups for the much awaited shopping spree. By dusk we re-grouped and I was shocked to find out I was the only one who looked like I had shopped the whole medina! In my defense, everything I looked at reminded me of someone back in India who would love it – hence the shopping load! – My Indian friends – If you’re reading this I might’ve bought something for you – that depends on how nice you are to me though 🙂

We had our fair share of adventure with GeoCaching! Again! It was so exciting to find clues hidden in buildings and landmarks and finally finding the Geo Cache hidden in a beautiful riad.

The Geocache box and the note that Jette entered in the log book

The Geocache box and the note that Jette entered in the log book

We headed back to Casablanca and surprise surprise – Samy didn’t get on the tram back to the hotel because the doors closed on her. Panic struck, worried phone calls were made and Jette and Dani got off at the next station to get Samy. Jane was seeing the funny side of how Samy is too nice to fend people off to get into the train, and when our station came guess who didn’t get OFF the train in time, Joking Jane 😀

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The pretties at Fes L-R: Samy, Jane, Sarah, Dani, Tany and me

All’s well that ends well. Every lost soul trooped into the hotel after a while and 12 heads went to bed safe and sound.

Can’t believe 2 weeks have passed. It feels like I’ve known these mad people forever now.