Sunday, August 13, 2006

I hate shopping.
Shopping is one of the supposed London delights I will not miss. Here shopping just seems to happen to one, and that’s the sort of shopping I can deal with. Take just now, for instance. I am sitting under a baobab tree on the banks of the river Niger, reading the diaries of the amazing Mungo Park (about whom more later), waiting for my architect Boucoum to turn up for our meeting at the Ministry of Tourism. (He is late, ahem…)
Three little boys just passed by trying to sell me sweets- they also had one pair of the distinctive brightly coloured flip-flops the Fulani now wear; a high tech addition to their otherwise impeccably traditional outfits. These flip flops have been vacuum formed somewhere in enormous quantities in the Far East and have found their way mysteriously onto the feet of the most humble Fulani shepherd. I have been vaguely thinking about buying a pair, so I gave them 1000 FCFA (1pound stirling), clearly far too much since they skipped off in a sort of delirious dance, laughing and squeeling happily and clasping each others shoulders. Meanwile I removed my old flip-flops, bearing the faded Jamaican flag, a relic from Portobello Road celebrating the recent football world cup. I had only just put them down when a young mother with a baby arrived and asks me if she may take the old ones, which I readily agreed to, of course. So we are all are very happy at the end of this exchange.
Shopping in Westbourne Grove? Give me the banks of the Niger any day. Posted by Picasa


Blogger Blogger User said...

Nice shoes! I love my Malian flip-flops, which I bought in Siby last year. They are of the older, shoddier, construction however, sure to break before too long.

If you want to read a smart, funny novel about Mungo Park's adventures, look for Water Music by T.C. Boyle. Highly recommended. I can mail you a copy if you want.

- A former US expat in Mali, enjoying your thoughtful posts ....

7:54 PM  

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