I celebrated my birthday here on the 17th. It was very simple
and it was just a normal day. Keita wasn’t even here. (I am expecing him to
turn up any moment from Segou.)
But from morning to evening it was a perfect day.
It started in the bogolan studio where I was working with Baba who was playing
music on his telephone. ( The above picture will have to serve once more, because
Maman has taken my camera with him on his under-cover mission) Baba has very good music taste and downloads stuff
from the internet. Suddenly there it twas : Jimi Hendrix’ version of All
along the Watchtower ! Well, that set the tone for the rest of the day. I
gave him 5000FCFA for telephone credit to download some more. I am an unrepentant
old hippie of course, and on my wishing list was more Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, the Velvet
Underground, Canned Heat and Led Zeppelin, as well as more Bowie and Iggy Pop and the Stooges.
Then I forgot all
about it and later went for a great dusty gallop on Petit Bandit into the far
distance towards the horizon seen from the sunset terrace. And at 6pm I
installed myself all alone as usual on
this very terrace. As a special treat I
was sipping a whisky and ginger juice: I allowed myself a day off from my otherwise alcohol- free lent. And here comes
Baba again, playing some music, and what has he found now ? Well, I know what I am about to
tell you is considered corny : I
know and I don’t care :
He brought me Stairway
to Heaven ! freshly downloaded on his telephone. It was quite perfect. I was filled to the brim
with joy at my fabulous Djenné life as I listened to the glorious song which seemed
somehow to touch everything I have ever been and everything I now am all at
I had invited my journalist
friend Levy for dinner, and we ate in the garden under the stars in the warm
velvety night before retiring to my place as is our want. I am sure the staff
thinks we are having an affair. What other reason could there possibly be for
us to go to my house for about an hour in Keita’s absence?
Well, if that is what
they are thinking they are quite mistaken. Levy and I retire to my house to watch an
episode of Dynasty. Malians who were young in the eighties all remember
Dynasty, the first soap opera shown on Malian TV. They all love it. I have brought
with me the whole 9 series, dubbed into
French. I was too much of a snob at the time to watch such things, so I am
following it now for the first time, and I am hooked of course. But the best
thing is not watching the screen itself- however fascinating- the best is to
watch Levy watching Dynasty. He is living it 100%. He is outraged at Alexis
behaviour and huffs and puffs. He is shocked if Crystel steps outside the
saintly image he has of her : ‘She should not have kissed that man !
She is married to Blake ! ‘he wails. I try in vain to console him by saying that she didn’t go any
further, so there was no harm done… but Levy shakes his head
unhappily as he is taking his leave…
I finish the evening with some coffee and Armagnac and with
an unusually good internet connection I spend an hour or so perusing Facebook
and reading everyone's kind birthday greetings to me.
A perfect birthday.