Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Going to the market here is educational, entertaining, and good for your morale, as a Canadian.
In earlier entries, we explained that there is some sort of curb-side economy every 50 metres, or so, within our immediate neighbourhood. It's great: we buy fresh fruit at one, meat and bread from another, etc. The watermelon vendors had another successful summer, and have since moved on to the next enterprise.
But the actual "Market" is quite another event. We usually try to get to an actual market once every Saturday. We described the 'Baraholka', a 5km long, multi-alleyed, maze of shops that stocks just about everything you can think of--most of it of acquired dubiously. I'm sure you could buy a coffin at the Baraholka. And you could probably get a deal on a used one. Because it is so big, we don't go there too often. There is a crew of 'blue-shirts' there that help you park your car. For about .40 cents, they will keep an eye on your car while you shop, and they will help you back out when you leave. Sound trivial? It's not! They provide a vital service. Got a small car? Leave it unlocked and in neutral while you shop. That way, they can double park or triple park you and simply jump in and roll your car around so they can get the other cars out when you're not around. It works.
But our favourite market is near our school. The pictures in this posting were taken there last weekend. Friendly, managable, relatively clean. The prices are a little better than anywhere else and the people are great. We were there three weeks prior to our return visit last Saturday, and several vendors remembered us. Usually, when people look happy to see us, or are a little too determined to help, I pessimistically think it is because we are "Western ATM machines on foot." Last week, Edna couldn't barter with one of the vendors at the Baraholka because, he muttered to his compatriot, in Russian, "She is Western; she is rich, she can pay full price." Life in the West is envied by a lot of people in this world.
But, back to our friendly market. After we concluded our deal for fresh dried fruit and nuts, Edna and the boys in the picture kind of remembered each other. He seemed to say "Weren't you Americans here before?" To which we always respond "Nyet Ameri-kans. Cah-na-dee-ens." They flipped! You'd think we were the first Canadians they'd ever met! Or that we were going to use Pez dispensers to start handing out complimentary Canadian Passports. They ran around trying to find someone with a camera. Then other merchants started getting into it. They gave the kids bags of chips and wanted to pose with them. It doesn't hurt that Cody and Kyla are cute as heck, but the whole thing started getting a little embarassing. (But truly: how do parents with ugly kids cope?).
The first time we went to this place, one or two young guys came up and said "How are you? I speak the English." You soon realize that this is about all they know. But they're quite proud to try to speak, and really, have you ever gone up to someone who speaks only Russian and said "kahk vih pahzheh vaheetyeh?" I admire them and they're quite happy to be seen 'talking' with you.
Edna and I both admit we played the 'Canadian-card' when we travelled when we were younger, but somehow this seems different--probably because I'm older (but surprisingly (or not) still very immature).
These pictures are 'clickable.' Enjoy them. Have a good week. It's always good to hear from you.
Now, of course, I have to add my two bits. Just wanted to let you know why we had the kids so decked out in Canadian clothing. We had an international brunch at the school on Saturday. They had tables set up on the soccer field and every country represented at the school had a table and people brought food from their home. We attended this and came out dressed for the occasion. I think we may have overdone it but we definitely represented Canada proudly. Dave wore his hockey jersey and I had a bright red Canada t-shirt--it was too hot to wear my Canada sweat shirt--and we had tatoos on our faces too. After this there was a two hour open house at the school so I went home with Kyla and Cody on the city bus. We were treated like celebrities with our tatoos. Everyone was checking us out and trying out their two lines of english on us. Needless to say--when I got home I removed my tattoo quickly but the kids weren't going to do the same. They loved it and that is why we received so much attention at the market. It was fun to see how well received we were--even if they looked at us as full price customers!!!