Wednesday, July 21, 2010

fabric and the ladies that sell it

One of the missionary ladies (she's hard core - doesn't own a car so she knows public transit insanely well) mentioned that there was a cheap place to buy nice fabric. It's cheaper than most of the stores downtown because it's where the locals shop so we would be less likely to be charged a mzugu price. So us wives went with Angie (the lady that was with us with the police officer incident). We had no idea what was in store for us.

The little 5 ft by 30 ft room was lined with a shelf like thing and with the only window in the very back it was dark-ish and smelled dusty. All along this shelf was columns and columns of nicely folded pre-cut fabric. It went up about 5 ft tall. Every three or four columns had a Kenyan woman standing next to it. From the way they cattle called us ("Sista, do you like this?" "Sista, look at this, buy this" "Customa, how about this?") we figured very quickly that each woman only made money off of the fabric that she sold in front of her. (Without giving away surprises for certain family members I will be vague.) I asked about a certain type of animal. "Does anyone have a ____ on their fabric?" Five women pull out random fabrics and ask me if it works...all at once. While, I'm shopping Clarissa and Beth are also shopping and being eagerly convinced to buy things as well. Not to mention the other one or two Kenyan customers. The noise level made me feel pretty tense. I felt very very very confined.

Okay, back to the story. My _____ fabric question. I was being shown random African fabrics - nothing to do with the animal I requested! I had to chuckle with myself. I was also self-conscious because I have learned that "No." is rude to a Kenyan. So I didn't want to offend them and their fabrics but at the same time I'm not going to buy every single one that is shown to me. So I started saying, "that's not what I had in mind." and that seemed to be received well enough. After many tries I gave up on this particular animal and switched to another one. I was shown fabrics that at least made sense this time! I ended up picking one. In the course of all of this I also found a beautiful giraffe printed fabric that will be made into a table cloth. Nick is super excited about it!

I wanted to buy my sister some fabric. So I kept searching. A little bit later Beth calls out, "Melissa, I found the animal you were looking for!" She was right. It wasn't what I had in mind, but it will work and make a little girl that love dearly very happy. I finished my purchasing, paid, and walked out the door. I stood in the hallway and tried to keep Serenity (she's 2 years old now!) occupied. Ended up taking her to the van to wait since Beth was still looking for fabrics.

I gave all but one of my choices to James' wife here at Mayfield. Word has it she is quite the seamstress. (I should clarify - there are 2 James-es working here. Big James and little James. Little James is only little in size. His heart is huge. He and I are working together to raise support for his church's school when I get back home. Big James is at least 300 pounds and very quiet... until I asked him about sewing. Then we had this lengthy discussion and he took me to his home on the Mayfield plot. I have never seen where the workers live - it's small but clean! I met his family and had a lovely conversation with his late teenage daughter, Esther and his seamstress wife, Jessica.) Even though I know James is well paid by Kenyan standards, I also know that all the workers here are believers and if I support them outside of their Mayfield job they will use the money here far better than I could. So I gave Jessica specific instructions as to what I want. She promised to have it done before we leave and said that I pay here when I pick them up. I can't wait!!!!

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to see them, and see you! I have missed hanging out, and look forward to hearing more about your adventures :)