|African Journal (part 3 of 5)|
|11/27/1998 - Nov. 23/98|
After 11 days of being here (including 6 days sick and on my back), I think I'm finally sort of settling into a groove here in Dakar (although albeit a not exactly "African" one). Pretty much every day I seem to have established a routine of getting up around 9 am, going to the local store down the street, and purchasing two yogurts (to calm my stomach), an International Herald Tribune, an orange crush, two litres of bottled water, and a can of ravioli and green beans, "in the event of fish" (a food I seem to generally have difficulty with, but which Mor’s family serves quite frequently). Besides, the whole ravioli thing gives me reason ("pathetically enough", I admit) to avoid the whole "collective eating" ritual without appearing rude. Got "caught" yesterday, however, the last day the whole band came to the studio, during lunch. I usually ask for a seperate plate, but unfortunately, when lunch rolled around there was no separate plate in sight, and when the other band mates, who had already gathered around the big bowl, saw me, they were sort of like "here’s a spoon! What’s the problem? Let’s eat!" and so I joined them, eating sparingly and trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. The woman who brought the food, however, who are aware of my "social acclimation" problems, saw what I was doing, and couldn’t stop laughing amongst themselves and at me from across the room, and I teased them, pretending that when I left the circle of eaters early, it was actually because I was so stuffed that I just couldn’t possible continue…..
Tues. morning – I’ve now been here 12 full days, and it looks like it’s likely that there’s just today and tomorrow to go, before I head back. The drummer of the group, whose name fails me (I’m really terrible, in that I haven’t really successfully learned the names of anyone in the band, with the exception of the leader, Chiek), when he noticed how much Mor and I admired the dashiki he was wearing, offered to go out and have one made for me over the following 24 hours, and yesterday he brought it to the studio and presented it for me – a bright, baby-blue and black/white-patterned, loose-fitting robe and pants with an elastic serving as belt, which I immediately put on. I suppose now I’m an "honorary African", but whatever the case, the clothes seem to serve a practical purpose as well – they’re really the best suited for this very hot climate – they’re loose, decorative, cool and light, plus they cover most of the body to protect against mosquitoes. Mor’s brother is a tailor, as well, so one of the first things I did last week when I felt better was to go to the market with him and with Eric (a young, white guy who is here from Missoula, Montana, perhaps to stay, and who knows the Wolof language very well, having lived here for a couple of years before) to hunt for appropriate materials. It seems that here the whole "ready to wear", off the shelf concept doesn’t exist – you basically chose your materials, hire a tailor, and have your clothes custom made. I had been admiring Mor’s clothes for some time, and since his brother does all of his tailoring, when he asked me what style I wanted, I basically pointed to Mor’s wardrobe. I also found some beautiful, rich blue material which I asked that he make into a dress for my [NB. now ex-]girlfriend Lesley. At any rate, I will see the results of all of this probably either today or tomorrow – he’s just arrived with a package of finished clothes today, in fact, though I’m not sure whether they’re for Mor or for me…..
On Tues. night, I was presented with my tailor-made clothes made by Mor’s brother. It was actually very exciting to get some new clothes in this manner, wrapped in paper, as seems the custom here, and completely made-to-order. The problem was that the pants, for some reason, had been cut so that they were about six inches too long in the legs. As with everything here, I wasn’t sure wha