24 February 2008

An enjoyable weekend

First off, it seems that in Edinburgh female drivers have a good reputation. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a car for sale. Among the virtues listed was that it has had "1 Lady Owner." Recently I also saw a driving school company that is simply named Female Driving Instructor. While on the subject of cars, one of my colleagues takes the bus to work as if she moved her car her (unzoned) spot would be taken. So she owns a car but feels she cannot drive it lest she lose the parking spot. Absurd.

Since I've gotten to Scotland, I've been on the lookout for some Wolof speakers so that I can brush up my language skills. I hadn't much luck (the language I most often randomly recognize is Twi, from Ghana), although I am teaching somebody some Wolof for use in their research work in Senegal. [My roommate recently remembered that he has a Gambian coworker, so I shall see if we can meet up for conversation.] So I was pleased when I happened upon a brochure for the World Sufi Festival in Glasgow, which would feature a Senegalese booth. As I've mentioned before a lot of Senegalese are followers of the Mouride sect of Islam, although I discovered that religious fervour did not figure prominently in the "Senegalese Market."

After a relaxing Friday afternoon watching Brokeback Mountain (which I thought was excelllent) and meeting up with some people at a pub, I left early Saturday morning for Glasgow. I spent the morning walking around the city (a nice place, I thought), and visited the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It's an amalgamation of an art gallery (with Scottish, Italian and French art, plus a few masks in a theme on costume), Scottish history sections (I learned that the Scots did not wear kilts into battle, so I'm a little disappointed in my primary source of Scottish history - Braveheart) and a natural history museum, but quite nice all the same. Their signature piece seems to be a painting by Salvador Dali, called Christ of St John of the Cross, the purchase of which caused consternation.

At the Senegalese booth at the World Sufi Festival (other events at the conference centre included the Model Railroad Show and Cyprus Property Show) I did indeed meet several Wolof speakers and got some good practice in. In fact, one of them had sent a brief response to my Gumtree posting for a Wolof conversation partner, then never wrote again (apparently Amadou went on holiday to Ukraine), so he remembered me. There was a nice little dance and drumming session (it always seems to be white guys who are on the djembes), and a couple of them sang some familiar chants from the Baye Fall, itinerant Mourides who roam the Senegambian countryside singing for alms. There were plenty of other interesting booths, plus some nice Pakistani singing performances. There were a couple of real estate booths -- I could have bought into some condominium in Beirut ("by Ivana Trump" - I didn't know this was a big selling point) or perhaps gotten a bargain on a place in Lahore.

My weekend wrapped up with my second Sunday playing pick-up football in the Meadows. It was quite fun, although rather cold and I had an abysmal second stint in goal. It's nice to get the exercise, though, and hopefully we'll go for post-match pints next time. People are strange here in that when an activity ends here, they just up and leave.

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