The Cafés

Each day my roommate (Barkave) and I get up, eat breakfast, and leave for school. This is when the stares from the cafes begin. We walk from our apartment building to the main intersection to grab a taxi to take us to school. Between the exit from our house and the main intersection we pass two little cafes/coffee shops. Each coffee shop is lined with tables and chairs outside for people to see at. The tables and chairs are saturated with men. I have seen only a handful of women sitting at the cafes, and generally if they are there they are sitting inside. When walking past the café you feel like you are on display for the men. When I’m walking by I feel like I have to walk very carefully and properly because I have somewhere between 5-15 sets of eyes watching my every move.

The morning is only where it begins. Most days at lunch the group of us have the choice of where we want to eat and sometimes wander up and down the main road near our school to find something that looks good (and cheap). This involves passing somewhere between 3-10 little cafes. At each and every café there are without a doubt men sitting with their tiny coffees in hand watching the street. The younger men who sit at the cafes seem as though they are looking for a women that may catch their eye, but the older men just seem to stare as if judging the girls.

On our way home from school seems to be when the cafes are the busiest. It appears that the men gather at the cafes after work for a coffee or afternoon tea. I’m interested to know why there are no women. It could be because many women are at home preparing dinner for their family, but in Rabat there are also a lot of modern women who aren’t home cooking. It may just be that culturally this is what the men do together. Some further investigation is required.

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