發文作者:c.w. | 二月 27, 2005

markets

Book front cover

Title:
Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known
Author:
Wole Soyinka
ISBN:
0413772551
Rating:
Not rated

A while ago we went to markets in London. Portobello in the west, Spitalfield in the east, Covent garden in the central. They sold real or fake antiques in these weekend markets, but it’s not a problem to find plenty of foods, fruits and veges or fake Guccis. Spitalfield has everything: Japanese couples’ little boutique, stylish and affordable T-shirts, children clothes, chocolates, painting, houshold decorations, even the lomo camera sold in Taipei’s Eslite, occupied a little stall here. (A friend just said someone interviewed stall owners in the market and published a book in Chinese! )

I love scrolling in markets all the time. On my business plus sightseeing trip last year in Kyoto, I spared some time to get in their major market, twice. (I only stayed there for three days.) Kyoto’s market smelled very much like Taipei’s, but was very clean. No spots or unknown spilled waters on the ground. Tiny stores with hundred years history sold their tofu, rice balls or sweets made in the early morning. The end of the market is a stream. So clean that a egret was looking for its lunch in it. On the bank was an bright red temple entrance against the backdrop of dark green mountains. It is said the Lake Biwa is on the other side.

London markets is full of people with various backgrounds. It seemed to be normal that cafe waiters said glaziers instead of thank you. On the ground floor of the cafe was a reggae shop, also sold hot soups on the sidewalk. Their dance music spilled all over the street. My friend walked in and asked for it. Shopkeeper scrabbled in his drawer to fetch a burned Cd. He spoke a price and turned to me “Young lady, do you dance?"

I saw some antique tins in one stand. The female owner said, what you are looking at are more than 50 pounds, if you want something less than 20, look up. We asked her which ones were 20. Of course tins more than 50 looked a lot nicer than those cheapter ones. And there’s no reason unattractive continental tins were a lot cheaper than attractive Brits ones.

So we didn’t get anything. And it’s quite exhausting to walk in a crowd of tourists. The best thing of that day remained as the brunch at the second floor cafe. I came back and encountered this:

A market is kind haven for the wandering soul
Or the merely ruminant. Each stall
Is shrine and temple, magic cave of memorabilia.
Its passages are grottoes that transport us,
Bargain hunters all, from pole to antipodes, annulling
Time, evoking places and lost histores.

A market is where Samarkand invades
Johannesburg, and as the shutters close,
Departs without regrets or trace
Until its next reincarnation. A market is
Where London’s Portobello spells
Caracas and Yoruba, Catalan or Khourassan,
And though hard currency is what changes hands,
It lets you drift in fluid channels where
Sensations thrive on trade by barter….

(Samarkand, And Other Markets I have Known)

Soyinka’s poetry. It’s long, but the very first two sections briefly explains the reason I love the strolls in markets. Mr. Soyinka is Yoruba, went to college in UK, and finally won a Nobel Prize. Very distinguished character. Please see online resources;


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