October 9, 1938

Day before yesterday still unbearably hot, yesterday cooler but night very stuffy. Very hot today at midday, in the afternoon a violent dust-storm, much thunder & then fairly heavy rain for about an hour. Fearful mud in the bazaar in consequence. Air much fresher after the rain.

Primitive drill used by Arabs – not certain whether merely drill for wood or used for stone & earthenware – constructed as follows. The drill is attached to an upright which passes through a heavy round stone of 5-10 lb. Above this is a cross-piece which fits round the upright but is movable. From the ends of the cross-piece strings go to the top of the upright. These are twisted round the upright & the cross-piece worked up & down, causing the upright & therefore the drill to rotate. The stone serves merely as a weight.

Arab drug kiff,¹ said to have some kind of intoxicating effect, smoked in long bamboo pipes with earthenware head about the size of a cigarette holder. The drug resembles chopped grass. Unpleasant taste & – so far as I am concerned – no effect. Sale said to be illegal, though it can be acquired everywhere for 1 Fr. For about a tablespoonful.

The one smell one rarely encounters here is garlic, which apparently the Arabs do not much use. Almost a majority of the ripe olives now on sale are purple. Possibly these are the ones black olives are made from. Dates getting very ripe. They seem to be a rather dry & inferior kind.

¹ Kiff (or kef, keef, kif ) in Indian hemp, marijuana, marihuana, cannabis sativa (or indica), from Arabic ‘kaif,’ meaning enjoyment, well-being, state of dreamy intoxication. Peter Davison

*You can listen to Orwell’s son, Richard Blair, read part of this entry here.

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8 Responses to October 9, 1938

  1. Another terrifically evocative post. Greatly enjoyed the radio program, also.

  2. art brennan says:

    The drill is very similar to the Native American firestarter displayed at the Museum of Natural History in NYC. After seeing the one at the museum, I crafted one of my own and it worked beautifully. I wonder which came first, the Native American or the Native African idea?

  3. Sir Alphonso says:

    “Unpleasant taste & – so far as I am concerned – no effect.”

    Does this mean Orwell smoked The Weed?
    Now he can never be president!

  4. Hachi says:

    No sir! Orwell didn’t inhale!

  5. old.frt says:

    Kif is always inferior to hashish.
    Too bad Blair never traveled to Nepal or Afghanistan.
    I would have relished his assessment of a finer grade of cannibus product.

  6. VIPelle says:

    Another writer who travelled to Morocco, Paul Bowles (The Sheltering Sky, 1949 ) wrote,

    “The Moroccans were constantly talking about majoun, which mighty otherwise be described as cannabis jam. Often I had accepted a pipe of kif when it was passed to me, but since I never inhaled the smoke, I had not received the effect and still thought of kif as a bad-tasting sort of tobacco.”
    Though his first majoun “tasted like very old and dusty fudge from which all flavor had long since departed,” this “in no way diminished its power.” Going to the top of a mountain, he felt himself “being lifted, rising to meet the sun. . . .In another hour my mind was behaving in a fashion I should never have thought possible.”

    Bowles wrote, “[T]he user of cannabis is all too likely to see the truth where it exists, and to fail to see it where it does not. Obviously few things are potentially more dangerous to those interested in prolonging the status quo of organized society.”

    Orwell had that part down, kif or no kiff.

    Source: http://www.veryimportantpotheads.com/site/bowles.htm

  7. Gilles Mioni says:

    At the time when Orwell was in Morocco, agriculture was not yet disorganized by massively producing raw material for poisonous derivates. Consequence of neocolonial situation of North Africa. I believe Paul Bowles was wrong. The alteration of consciousness by artificial means is always risking to feel negative emotional disorder.

  8. Gilles Mioni says:

    Orwell notices low level of the technologies used by the natives. It is an feature in the French colonies. Massive arrival of colonists from France involved the fact did not need to have to form the local labour to modern trades.

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