An novelist writes about a fateful discovery on a trip to Marrakesh:
I HAVE SEEN many styles of salesmanship in bazaars and entrepôts around the world, from bullying to seductive, maternal to elegantly cunning. It was in Marrakesh, though, that I learned that the greatest merchants are interpreters of dreams.
I was visiting Marrakesh on a magazine assignment and found myself with a few hours before dinner to enjoy the luxury of wandering aimlessly. I stopped in the spice souk to buy a packet of saffron, and some incense that the seller assured me would ward off the evil eye—as long as I believed that it would—before veering off into a tangle of neighboring streets. Lured by earthenware cooking vessels ornamented with metalwork so fine that they must have been part of a fortunate bride’s dowry, I entered what appeared to be an antiques shop filled with a jumble of estate and personal merchandise. There was no one inside except for the shopkeeper, a scholarly looking and ascetically thin man.
I saw it immediately, propped up against a dressing table—an intricately carved door whose rich, nocturnally dark wood was studded with stars that I would soon learn were formed of brass, camel bone and silver, and which seemed to pulse and shimmer as my eyes moved over them. The door, framed by a border of stylized clouds crafted from beaten silver, looked like the gate of heaven, luminous and narrow. No matter how long I stared at it, I found more to see…[full story]