I forget how quickly the medina eats away the hours of a day. At first it is morning, and then suddenly we are looking at the sky saying Oh, it's eight o'clock (not that time matters much - it's more that suddenly dinner becomes important, or sleep). The sun has sunk now. We're all on the terrace, even the dogs, who are fickle in their attentions, though lovingly so - as if, I think, they are trying to distribute themselves evenly among us, so that none of us is disappointed for long by the lack of dog's head in lap.
Last night I went out and took photographs of the minaret near Ali and Alice's house in the moonlight. The darkness here is characterized by light. The religious symbolism of this does not entirely escape me - at a christening last week in Christ Church cathedral, we were asked to help the baby walk always in light - but I find it difficult just now to articulate it precisely. It is like this: even at night the minarets seem to be illuminated, whether or not they actually are. The one near Ali and Alice's house is abandoned and silent, but still it shines.
I don't mean magic exactly. (Though at dinner, Ali tells us of the magic here, and I cannot help but trust him - he's from here, he knows, his confidence is contagious). I mean that we see the minarets, the city itself, always bathed in light, even at the cold hour of midnight. Awoken at 5 am by the resounding calls to prayer, the day seems already to have begun, even if the sun has not yet lifted its hot, heavy self over the Eastern horizon.