It was market day downtown and, once again, I was amazed at how all the office workers who normally march robotically through the financial district (myself included) come alive when passing bins of fresh corn, baskets of apples and fresh picked berries. It’s like everyone gets to time-travel out to the countryside for the afternoon.
The music sure helped bring everyone to life. Today it was a percussion ensemble called Manding Foli Kan Don (see video sample, below). They hail from Guinea, West Africa (where my brother-in-law and his wife used to live, so of course I had to stop and watch).
There were six drummers, all wearing red, blue and yellow headdresses, vests and pants. Three wielded drumsticks while their instruments sat on fixed stands. Each of the others played a large bongo-like drum tethered to them with a thick leather strap. It was fascinating to hear the multi-layered sounds produced only by drums.
The bandleader invited volunteers up from the audience to move to the music and that’s when the fun really began. Each volunteer may have looked stiff and uncomfortable at first, but after a little coaching and encouragement from the leader, they really loosened up. By the end of it, they looked ready to audition for So You Think You Can Dance.
One woman in horn-rimmed glasses, her hair pulled back in a tight bun, broke out in a hip-swinging solo that would definitely have been outlawed in Malaysia.
So where does the good deed come in, you may be asking.
Well, just as I was about to leave, a woman with a weathered face and missing front tooth asked for some change for coffee. “I left my wallet at home,” she said.
I suddenly felt very sad. The woman looked familiar. A lot like one of my sisters — who could, at that moment, be having a similar conversation on the West Coast. Except she’d be the one who “left her wallet at home.”
I fumbled in my purse for the coins and handed them to her.
“Bless you,” she said. “I left my wallet at home.”
“That’s too bad,” I said. “Bless you, too.”