Kites and dust jackets

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I broke out of my solitary confinement twice today. First to get Axel a cabinet he had been drooling over since he arrived. It was now or never, as the movers come on monday. The furniture shop on Chicken Street was of course closed but a few phone calls later the cousin of Ibrahim, my textile man, had indicated he would be there waiting for me.

Shopping on Chicken street on the second day of Eid, with only that one store opened, especially for me, was perfect: no traffic, no other customers to compete with, and the uncle, who doesn’t negotiate, wasn’t there, only Hamid and a helper. The helper was critical as the furniture is stacked three or four high with very few spaces to maneuver. I brought a picture of the cabinet Axel wanted and we soon spotted it at the far end of the enormous store on top of and behind many others large pieces of furniture.

While Hamid and his helper pried it loose I found myself a few other treasures that cannot be transported back in a suitcase at future visits. And so I haggled to include a few other items in the purchase. Eid is a good time to haggle as everyone is in dire need of money, more so than any other time of the year.

Next stop was the kite bazaar. It is kite flying season and kite makers do a brisk business in the Shor Bazaar. The colors are dazzling. It was hard to make up my mind which ones to get. Signature kites are expensive (2 to 3 dollars each) while the plain small ones go for as little as 40 cents. I spotted one enormous kite, a true piece of art that was sold for 40 dollars. It would require a very big wall which we don’t have back home.

In the afternoon I was invited to the M. family for Eid. I have gotten very fond of the family, mom, dad and three grown up kids. They are a bit of an aberration in their larger family network which was nicely illustrated when a cousin came to visit. The visiting cousin is about 30 years old, just like S., but unlike S, who is not even engaged, she already has 7 children and no plans to stop. After the cousin and her brood left I christened the family ‘oddballs,’ a word I had to explain.

For entertainment the son decided it was time to uncover (and dust off) the old Grundig record player that mom had brought back from Germany 40 years ago; this was followed by a proud showing of the record collection that had been meticulously cared for over the years and, at some personal risk, kept hidden in the house out of sight from the Taliban.

The whole family got involved in the project: mom listening, eyes closed and reminiscing, me reminiscing with my eyes wide open – I think mom and I are about the same age and both remembered the Euro Song Festival – dad tapping his feet, younger sister dusting each record cover as if it was brittle glass and son taping the unglued fronts and backs of the sleeves back together.

Everyone got to choose a record to play – it was very democratic although dad’s selection of very mourning Indian music played on a kind of long slender horn got the longest playtime. To humor me they played Zorba the Greek which compelled me to show them how to do the Greek step dance.

1 Response to “Kites and dust jackets”


  1. 1 axel September 1, 2011 at 5:22 am

    Wonderful. I miss it, but miss you more.


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