Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day 11. Kalvariju Markets (as Captured by the Eye of the Fly)

Out front the crumbled yellow gates, a haggard old lady stands bagging radishes from a bucket. Her offsider, a narrow, coily character suckles on a thin cigar.
A wheelchaired cripple, legs vamoosed, stumps before the kneecaps, tries his chances on the charity of passers by.
Upon entering Kalvariju, an odour of raw meat slaps you in the jaw like a fish.
A multicoloured umbrella shading a dispute over a bag of onions nearly falls, and in a tsunami the bulbs tumble out on to the asphalt, and roll their way to pooling puddles.
An ancient face carved into rivers of wrinkles approaches you, begging incomprehensible, or asking inane queries, and another, a Roma, smile gilded by a golden tooth, selling plastic bags, begins searching for a surcharge.
Beastern European men, shotgun blasts resonate from out their stares, wily fashion criminals, coated in army camouflage, stained shorts, questionable morals, storm troop around the edges.

Pumpkin salesmen and shoe repairers quibble, to sell or to fix, which?
The elderly women in headdresses- headscarves of electric pinks, plum purples, fresh painted fence whites, tied tight around melancholic expressions, hiding the crops of grey follicles underneath, sell fruits of various qualities and ancestry.
Leather jacketed couples meander by, sniffing at the pastries cooking on the boiling hot plates, tempted, suspicious, onwards.
The clouds are pestering, thumping a passage of rain on the ramshackle tin, a raisin coloured dog snuffles around footfalls, and ponds of water splash in a sloppy symphony.
Hooded raincoats of luminescent green appear. Slapdash baskets filled with plants and potted meat swing about all over, held tight in clasped grips.
Mouths masticate bargaining chips, down tambourine alley, teeth stained, but symbolically happy, curved into crescents.
The broom salesman stands tired, her arms unmoving, her face an old butter mill, always churning what’s inside.

Housing block homesteads filled from these possessions; mouldy computer keyboards, Russian records, Snoopy dolls, wooden spoons, candlabras, Albanian push-up bras, plastic toy racecars, race-tracks, fish tanks, cups with cracks, a beard, two curious eyes peering out, filled to the brim with a portion o’ port, which hovers forcefully by his side, guiding him, claiming reason with a clamp.
Dangling strings of mushrooms tied one by one like necklaces of Arabic jewels, sapphires, emeralds, fungus, hang spooling from stall lattice, all swaying in unison to the weather, as if shuffling to a samba.
Bundles of flower buds- and a deflowered darkness; a heavy-built man shouldering a heavier-built sack, hearty scars indenting his brow, hard-luck stories one over his nose, two on his chin, tales of blood and deceit. Walking laps, one, three; stops; now inter-coursing with a thin, long-haired sheepherder, a rustic, biblical one, riding a rusted bike.
A meeting of brown shoes and grey jacket- He picks up her shopping bags and plants a kiss unto her furry cheek. Another pair- A hug- One carries candles, the other pink violets. Combed wig wanders past, silver Elvis in a plaid spangled sports jumper. Overweight straw seller giving the crow’s eye to a creepy couple, still the broom salesman stands dormant, shade falling over her features- maybe she is wandering into slumber.
Colourful Chinese spinning wheels turning at velocity as the wind rises a gear, long legs upon high-heels, dimples, a sea of denim flashes by, whoosh, jars of beetroot, the smell of cooked chicken, an argument, the fish salesman and his protegee discuss sturgeon over sandwiches.
World’s Biggest Melon for loan, 200 percent off, skin sagging over the eyes of the depleted.
Brown leather- all the rage, perhaps machine-gun warehouses nearby?
Toothless grin, lettuce leaves flutter as a jet roars above, the frau with the tickling ponytail, swish in pink headband and blue umbrella, pointy as a sickle, the pigeons, feeding, the puddles, breeding, cigarette butts like boats in their floating quietness. And there! The meeting place of the equally disenfranchised, a collective lighter lit, laughter, but no photos.
The purple parka bursts through the mob, pummelling along to the meat man. Who will finally buy this huge pumpkin? She looks shocked nobody wants to fork out for her phoney merchandise, her lumps of lacy undergarments, people want radishes, potatoes, not randy robes, the pastry chef smokes fat cigars, coughing throughout, a Roma woman bellows ‘PRIMADONNA’ and her sidekick in woollen vest giggles approvingly.
All the sunglasses on the shaky rack reflect grey skies through their missing pupils, a fart like a warthogs honk, licks upon the air, women are gathering faster than the pigeons now, squawking, the man in a cream cap pulls out a fresh Soviet-style smoke, sucks it down, embers redhot, matching the caskets of tomatoes marching past, the multicoloured umbrella folded now, put away in tight tarpaulins, the stick salesman, her headware purple, plump cheeks a similar shade, sold not a stick today, the pumpkin, unbought? Crates of strawberries shoved into bigger boxes and into trucks off to feed granny’s grateful children by dinner tables under low wooden rooves, as daddy accepts the thought of getting back up early to hock the potates, to waver out underneath the bonnet, tomorrow dawning, beat the rush before eight, never too late, and the smoke from his quietly noble cigarette leaps to the evening like an exhalation of phantoms, out to meet their fate.

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