It was already too late to welcome the day with a good morning. I looked out off the window, onto the corner. Getting up, taking a shower almost consumed a lifetime, although it felt more like an out of body experience. After the first waves of caffeine entered my brain I felt congruent enough with the world.
On the corner, this boy, it is his corner. He is a bit retarded or at least constantly bored, notoriously unattended. He is often with one of his younger sidekicks, if not, like today, he tends to forget about people. Consequently he does make love to the lantern post, or noises barely resembling a song, making lyrics up because he has not memorized either the words or the melody. This time he rubs himself against the before mentioned post, kissing it.
Amused, I also envied him for the freedom to scratch his itches whenever he wanted, living in the world of his, without the fear of being judged. The caffeine finally put me nearest to functional as I could expect. Now, I was ready to go outside. I needed a baguette, some fruits and veggies. Shoes, shoulderbag, my keys, down I went, before I would decide otherwise.
On sticky, heavy summer days, when the winds are on strike and air exchange is practically non existent, I am always reluctant, frightened to get trapped in the city, a living entity sucking you dry or at the very least implementing an illusion of mutual dependancy.
Anyway, I was outside and felt like I could get shit done, almost adventurous!
So instead of making a small run to my usual and nearest boulangerie and/or corner-store
I figured I could try sth different today, laying out a more elaborate route in my head. In this case I’d have to cross Avenue du Roi. Than via the roundabout of Place de Rochefort with the entrance to ‘Parc de Forest’ tangent to it, right onto Wielemanns-Ceuppenslaan.
Here the cars usually kiss their bumpers, being shoveled from St. Gilles in the direction of Canal Bruxelles-Charleroi.
It was summer season thus the traffic was léger, so side-walking a main axis was not as hazardous to my respiratory system as in the winter, when the steady stream of smog hovers over the street competing with the stream of vehicles.
A while back, I had noticed a cornershop with a different range of fruit and vegetable in good quality, outside and inside of the store. The shop itself was stuffed with all kinds of beans, lentils and peas, a wide range of spices, a good variety of different flours,curry paste and food preparations. A fridge with fish and different african items I didn’t know. Given the circumstances everything was proper. There were two men working. One topping up the shelves, the other behind the counter, both industrious and friendly.
While getting there, I would come by two boulangeries/patisseries with bread and pastry in sufficient quality. It was settled!
Reality check: First bakery-closed, the second: “plus de baguette – désolé.“ Okay, I could still change the route on my way back and still pass by two or three bakeries, no reason to feel agitated. I reached the store I favored for today. Outside only a few plantain, some roots and stuff, okay it had been hot the whole week,
I stepped inside. Bummer, a magenta-brownish something resembling more a nutsack than eggplants, the shelves half-filled and the source of the sour-sweet smell must have been either the freezer or the man leaning over the counter, dully grinning. Where were the two gentle men, that had kept this store in shape?
I left the store somewhat disgusted, mildly annoyed.
Out on the street I had to figure out a plan B. I was not ready to give up so I crossed the street went to the nearest cornerstore with the usual goods on display in standard quality, minus the higher prizes compared to my hood.
I chose some cucumbers, des jeunes ognions, some peaches, limes, tomatos. The friendly, elderly man beside me shook his head pointing at the peppers murmuring in arabic what I understood to be a perfectly justifiable lament on the prize for quality value. I nodded, smiled and gestured him to go in first, he smiled and I followed him into the store.
The young man behind the counter served the old man without altering his sloppy, inattentive behavior, which the old man silently and unpretentiously objected. The empty words of respect bounced off of him, the old man had already spoken his verdict – guilty of superficiality and indifference. Our eyes met on his way out,
I was next. Like expected, the shopman did not even stop talking to one of his coworkers or buddies that had just entered the store; he shoveled and stuffed every item in one plastic bag, handing it to me. 5,80 Euro, I payed and left without a word.
Needless to say that on my way back the only bakery I found open was also out of question. I observed the man inside through the window, fumbling his nose while texting, Yak! Sometimes it is hard to say if somebody is actually living off the store or if it is just another kind of laundry shop. I was pissed, went home, scored my baguette at my usual bread dealer.
Thanks for nothing, – congés anuéls.