Sunday, January 10, 2021

One Another Saying "Wow"


Last minute Christmas shopping is something that is necessarily done in person.   Maybe back in China you can have an epiphany, order something on line and have it delivered in an hour but not here.  I went back down to the Water Street market today, to follow-up on a classic Christmas opportunity.  Two days ago, when I was in a store, getting a necklace for my mother my older daughter pointed out a pair of lizard earrings.  She has a painted gecko for a pet.  I took note and walked out the store with her.  Today I returned to get them and offer them up as a surprise on the big day. 

They all remembered me.  And the young lady who’d served me last time noted that they all missed the necklace with the big, red glass baubles.  And once again when the girl rang me up and I instinctively said Merry Christmas and she automatically responded with a “Happy Holiday.”  Next door I once again ordered an espresso and then crossed the lane to kill some time, with some last-minute shopping for nothing and no one in particular. 


I don’t know that I’d ever visited CronArtUSA before.  This is the studio of the artist Ryan Cronin.  I took a look around and notice that all of his work in one exhibit room had to do with Senegal.  I thought of my visit there in the summer of 1992 and though I didn’t want to buy anything I chatted a bit with the proprietress, who turned out to be Mrs. Cronin.  Discussing Senegal, I couldn’t help but share with her the one word I remembered in Wolof, which I mentioned was memorable because wherever you went in Dakar people kept walking up to one another saying “wow,” and despite the fact that they were genuinely quite sanguine when they said it, an English speaker like myself can’t help turning his head every time you hear it wondering what’s so exciting.  Wow means “hello” and she liked this and was determined to engage her husband with it, when next she saw him.

Next door was the shop that sells things vaguely Tibetan, Himalayan Arts.  I found a shirt and a shawl that weren’t in any way Tibetan but would serve for my wife and my stepdad respectively.  Up on the wall was a photo of the Potala and I thought about the last time I stood there a few years after learning what “wow” meant. 

Tuesday, 12/22/20


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