Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Tailleur - Part 2

We have a lovely talk with Monsieur BA  in French (that for the most part we all understood each other)  and he kindly offers up his son to take us to find a place to get the fabric - also to help 'negotiate' the price. So off we go. While I wish I had had my camera with me - I'm also again seeing how delicate the situation and the places we go are in which one can take a photo and how to do it inconspicuously or respectfully by asking - but this "mission" we were on just did not allow for it also because we had to keep an eye on Parker and Addison to make sure that they too 'stayed the course'.  We found ourselves in the famous Sandaga Market -a  mass of sellers' stalls, people and boisterous traffic in the surrounding narrow streets - shop after shop actually of fabric stores or it seemed like that since that was our focus - of which we kept passing until the son took us into one.  The owner/sales person - we are not sure which -  showed us some samples - and Manning saw one that seemed to work but the issue was that after it would be cut there was a tiny piece left  and she was saying she could not sell it. There was some discussion between her  and the son about the price - I think it came down to 12 CFA (~$25 USD) and Manning tried to pull his weight and said he would only pay 10 CFA (~$21 USD) - mind you at this point it's not that we could not pay the 12 CFA - it's about us learning the ropes and getting a bit more confident about 'the art of negotiation' as it's done here. It's also curious as to what the price MIGHT have been had the son not been with us and we were completely left to our own devices. Let me not forget too that it seemed apparent electricity was out in this area - as generators were running for shops who had them - or lights and fans were off in stores that did not - and it was hot  (90+) and sweaty!!  At the end of it all - we walked away. Moved onto another shop and that owner did not have the right material. Went to a third shop and the owner showed us a few choices - less clear mesh and more like a sheer curtains with designs. By this time I think all of our heads were ready to explode by just the overall process and I just happened to turn around and said 'this one - this will do!"  8CFA - sold! No negotiation needed. 2 hours later - we walk back to the apartment and the son makes his house call to help Manning measure the windows.  

The next day we picked up the curtains and Monsier BA allowed me to take some photos of his shop. I wished I had gotten a better close up of the sewing machines. On first blush you do notice how antiquated the machines are yet I suppose from a tailors point of view - maybe the simplest is the best - perhaps a straight stitch is all you need -  if you know what you are doing.  From what I thought I picked up from him in our conversation that - the other folks were members of his family. I hope to take some more time learning more about his shop in a future visit.

You'll notice in the first picture the one man at the sewing machine has what you first might think is a cigarette but it's actually a twig ("sothiou" - Wolof for chewing stick)  used to clean teeth (blog post coming on this too)

At the end of the day I'm happy to say that these sheer curtains at night are keeping the moustique et mouche at bay!  It's a little hard to capture but they have a nice blue sheen and  have really helped spruce up the place (making the current fabric panels on the  side look out of place) - I see another trip to Sandaga market in our future.


  1. Hilary - This is a fantastic journal. Your writing style brings everything to life and your observations are remarkable. What an experience.

    As an aside, in one post you mentioned that it took a long time to figure out how to embed your audio. In your spare time (if you have any) you might consider examining Windows Live Writer. It allows you to compose your post and then publish it when it is ready. It has a lot of add-ons which make it easy to add audio, video, photos, etc.

  2. It's really wonderful to be on this trip with you through pictures and text.Tish