Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Doom Deferred

After months of (not-)training in preparation for tomorrow's half-marathon, my (entirely self-imposed) sentence has been commuted for another week.

Thursday was the Grand Magal, one of Senegal's biggest holidays. It commemorates the return from exile of Cheikh Amadou Bamba, the founder of Senegal's most powerful Sufi Islam brotherhood, and what feels like ALL of the country heads out to Touba, the brotherhood's holy city, to celebrate in a feast and frenzy of hospitality and chanting.

All of which meant that, this weekend, things still aren't quite back to normal, so the Powers That Be decided to wait a week for the marathon.

Although I'm pleased to have an extra week of (not-)training, I'm starting to get worried about the temperature factor. It's getting hot, y'all, and the 4 pm race start isn't going to do much to help me out.

Eh, I'll survive. Probably.


It's been kind of a long time since I've posted here, huh.

It's not for lack of stories.

There was the time my guardian/super thought I was a... woman of ill repute? And tried to take advantage of my services?

See, I moved last month, but my new roommates didn't arrive until the first of this month.

Which was fine, though it did mean that I was a single girl, living on my own in a big fancy apartment. And, well, you KNOW what white girls are like (have you seen the movies?) Plus, several of my friends came to visit. One of them was Theo, of course, but the other two also happened to be guys. And they came separately, and hung out with me ALL ALONE, with the DOOR CLOSED. Honestly, who could blame the guy for thinking we were UP TO NO GOOD.

So the night before my new roommates moved in (they had dropped by some stuff earlier that afternoon), the guardian knocked on my door.

He had always seemed very friendly and helpful. He helped me when I was moving my stuff in and explained where the trash went and stuff. Plus, he only speaks Wolof, and was very good at managing to explain things in words I understand, and also at deciphering meaning from the words I managed to string together.

Overall, I was of the opinion: Zal, generally good guy.

So when he knocked and told me he had something he wanted to talk to me about, I figured it was something house related. As he continued talking, I began to suspect it was something else, but I didn't really understand the words he was using (remember: all Wolof) and I didn't want to jump to conclusions.

At some point, he gestured inside, and I thought he was talking about my armoire that had been delivered earlier that day. He seemed to indicate that it would be easier to explain if I let him in.

It did in fact become a lot clearer at that point.

He stepped inside, closed the door behind him, LOCKED IT, and started walking to my bedroom.

Yeah. Baaxul. (Bad.)

I quickly chased him back out and, properly chastened, he backtracked quickly and told me he wasn't going to do anything, and (and this was the one phrase he knew in French): I respect you a lot.

Wonder if he knows what that means?

In any case, he apologized the next day, and Theo gave him a stern talking to. Anyway, I'm much more respectable now, given that I have two roommates. Of course, they are living in sin, but he doesn't have to know that.

And I keep the door locked.


In perhaps less dramatic news, my candle quest continues.

After the mixed success of my Hannukah menorah, I decided to go for broke and make Shabbat candlesticks.

A few months ago, Theo bought me candles. I'd taken him to a Shabbat dinner at a friends house, where I explained that it was our Sabbath, and that every Friday, among other things, we should light candles.

He was all, "But you never do."

"Right. Well, no, not here. But I used to. And in my family when I was growing up, we had Shabbat dinner every Friday night."

To which he not unreasonably responded, "so why don't you do it here? We have candles in Senegal."

Theo, in general, is pro-religion. Also he's seen that when I do manage to celebrate holidays here or participate in some Jewish community, it makes me happy.

So every Friday (when he's not reminding me to call my grandmother) he asks me if I've lit candles and said the kiddush. And one day, he came over with two boxes of candles, saying that if I had them in the house, maybe I'd remember to light them.

But the only candle-holders I had were empty bottles of beer, and somehow, that didn't seem right.

I decided to get something made. This time I decided to skip the flammable materials, and try for something, you know, inflammable. HA! Ba dum bum! (Okay, that was cheap. What can I say. Look at that S-Car Go!)

One of the crafts I enjoy here is when people make things out of found objects or scavenged trash. They can get pretty creative, and not too long ago, I bought myself this:

In this case, they've taken useful things (a teapot for attaya, fanta cans) and turned them into something whole-ly useless (a model of a traditional instrument). But you know... It's pretty.

So when I bought it, I asked the man to make me a pair of candlesticks out of tin cans. He told me to come back in two weeks. I was very excited and telling lots of people about my soon-to-arrive treasure.

I won't swear I knew exactly what I had in mind, but, well...

It wasn't this:

They put cans in a box. I could that. And y'all know. I'm no artist.

The worst part was that I hated them so much, I was embarrassed to bargain. I just wanted to walk away, but somehow I found myself paying far too much to bring these... treasures home.

I was hoping that when I got them into my apartment, I'd be more inspired, but... Not so much.

And they looked even worse when I put the candles on them.

So I took the only solace possible: I complained to lots of people. It helped.

But when I complained to Theo, he said, "I had this idea."

And two days later, he showed up at my house with this:

Isn't it great? He made it out of copper pipes.

Who knew? Date a plumber, and there are all sorts of perks.


Blogger David said...

I love your stories. They are just so unusually real in another world way.
Good luck with (not-)training and race.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Habeela said...

Now THAT is a candleholder! I love it!

1:25 AM  
Blogger jeanne said...

Theo is a KEEPER! Perfect solution, and if he really is a plumber, that's just a giant bonus!

Good luck next week! a 4 p.m. start is a little unusual, but we'll be standing by for the story(ies)!

5:01 PM  
Blogger a.maria said...

niiiiice! diggin the copper pipes! and you'll do GREAT on your half-mary?!

why? cuz i haven't trained much (at all) for mine either... so if you do good, it'll give me hope.

so ya gotta! ya just GOTTA!

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Doomusenegal said...

Desole pour ce malheureux incident avec ton voisin ou gardien. C'est un vrai con a vrai dire. Tu as le droit de faire entrer qui tu veux chez toi et ce que tu choisis de faire dans l'intimite de ta maison ne regarde que toi et personne d'autre. Ce n'est en aucun cas un motif pour te manquer de respect et te faire une proposition aussi indecente.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Irene said...

I'm still laughing. Art is in the eye of the beholder, I guess. Cool copper pipe candle holders!

6:45 PM  
Blogger Dori said...

Over here, thieves are breaking in and stealing copper pipes. It's causing houses to blow up, when it's gas pipes they're taking. I love the creativity in that country. I even like the soda can candlesticks. Bring them home--I'll bet you can make a profit.

5:59 PM  

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