Wednesday, 3 August 2011
I stepped into the shop, drawn by the small, delicate tea glasses arrayed like a rainbow on the shelf. And then something I wanted caught my eye, and I picked it up, giving it a closer look. Still – almost impossibly – no one came rushing to beseech me to buy it, or to bargain with me, or even to tell me how much it cost. And then the shopkeeper came rushing in – but not because of me. Instead he had four twenty-something Spanish girls in his wake, and a tea tray, carafe, and four tiny tea glasses in his hand. Small stools were passed around and everyone sat down, smiling, in the middle of his shop. With a flourish, he raised the teapot high and poured, the liquid falling in a fine stream into the glass. Photos flashed, the tea was returned to the pot, and the process repeated until everyone’s photographic needs were satisfied. Then the four glasses were distributed to the four girls – all but one who refused, her glass passing to me. And they drank, smiling, continuing to chat and josh with the shopowner in Spanish. Aside from being pressed into service to take some collective photos with several cameras, I remained ignored, my potential purchase disregarded. On leaving, each girl received a kiss on both cheeks, and the owner finally turned to me. We bargained; a price was agreed. And as we made the exchange, he gave me a delighted smile, but not about my purchase. “Beautiful Spanish girls,” he explained.