The Woman in the Market

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Through gender reconciliation and a bargaining connection, I established a bond with a woman in a narrow clothing stand in the markets of Meknes, Morocco. The woman ran a small shop in the midst of many others. Like a ferrel cat tucked into an alley, she sat, poised and confident, starring at me as I entered her shop. I purused the shop for thirty minutes, admiring the hats, pants, sports jerseys, and other apparel, all stuff that seemed more desireable for a male buyer. The woman made note of my familiarity with the quality of flat bill hats, and noticed my mohawk upon removing my hat to try on one of the hats in her shop that intrigued me. She smirked, I glanced at her for reassurance, and like that, we had a moment of cross-cultural connection. “Bshal,” I asked. “130 Dirhams,” she replied. I was impressed with her willingness to communicate, despite the language barrier. It was clear she had picked up a little bit of English, though not much. The hat was purple, my favorite with bright blue touches, and a cartoonish bill. The style fit me well and the woman could tell I liked it. “60 Dirhams,” I suggested. She laughed in my face. I responded right away with 70. She was eager to sell it to me, it seemed, and brought it down to 90 Dirhams. I am sure she could tell I liked it. “80 Dirhams,” I said. She hesitated, then agreed. I paid the woman, and she began bagging the hat for me. I could tell she was surprised at my purchase; I’m sure she would have expected to sell the hat to a young Arabic man, just as I would have expected to buy from one, not a thin, poised, cat-like Arabic woman. Her demeanor impressed me and I thanked her, “Shukran,” for the opportunity to embrace an unexpected gender relationship. I took the hat out right away and as I fastened the flat bill snaps on my head, I thought it would be polite to shake her hand and thank her one last time. Her handshake was firm and her wise eyes let me know she was grateful for our exchange as she motioned goodbye.

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