August 31, 2004

1 cultural faux pas and 1 oversight

Well it's nearing the end of a stressful day (case in point: I have had to schedule interviews for French...using technical jargon. It involved a lot of sweating, mumbling and generally embarrassing myself) and I just lost my previous blog TWICE. Aaaarrghhh! Let me, once again, relate to you these two incidents.

08/27/04, The Cultural Faux Pas

I was shopping for a friend's birthday at Wranglers (yes! They have a Wranglers! no! It's not a cowboy store!) and generally enjoying myself by watching the assistant fumble with paper, tape and ribbon. So absorbed was I by this task that I hardly noticed that it was 2:00 PM on a Friday. You know what that means? It's the mass praying time for everyone Muslim. I exit the store only to find rows upon rows of Senegalese men, in long flowing robes, on little rugs, performing the same idiosyncratic movements. Mumbling and profusely excusing myself, I trying to avoid the mats on the sidewalk and decide instead to walk in the streets.

I should mention here that I am the only woman in the street, the only white person, the only person not praying.

It is at this time that I notice that my high-heeled shoes do make the usual clack clack clack sound. Oh no. It's more like a CLACK CLACK CLACK!!! sound, piercing, incredibly noticeable, of a decibel that can be heard across the Atlantic I'm sure. Convinced it's written somewhere in the Koran that this deed is punishable by death, I rush home criss-crossing streets to avoid the masses (only managing to meet even more people praying).
It is later on that I learn that "this is a Democratic country, Dorothy. You are allowed to do anything you want. Besides, it's illegal to pray in the streets or on the sidewalks" (comment from a non-Muslim Senegalese friend).

I'm sure I'm going to hell for that one though.

08/30/04, The Oversight

I decide to go shopping for veggies after work. I get to the market only to find it closed for the day. At last, I find a nice lady willing to reopen her stall to sell my some stuff. Her name is "Nene" (French translation: "titties", I swear I am not making this up) and she will give me a good price if I promise to come back to her in the future. At this point a *seemingly* nice man comes up to us and asks me a slew of questions: what's your name, where do you come from, how long are you here for, you must be new since my legs are so white, would you like to buy an African figurine? I try to avoid answering while seeming polite but fail miserably and engage in conversation. I am so flustered that I quickly order a kg of this and a kg of that and leave the market as quickly as possible. I rush home, taking the convoluted way back and peering over my shoulder at regular intervals (admittedly, this is a bit paranoid).

When I get home, I survey my ware and notice that I have the following: 10 carrots, 3 HUGE zucchinis, 3 heads of lettuce, 6 large cucumbers, 10 green peppers, 3 big mangoes. Enough for a family of 10.

Moral of the story?
(1) ½ a kg of food is more than enough for two weeks worth.
(2)Avoid passing in front of the men into the market.
(3)Save your blog many times before posting.


Anonymous said...

So *that's* the "clack clack" sound I heard!


007 in Africa said...

You hear that?