Ah, it’s so nice to be in a real market for once, outside of those sterile shopping malls with air conditioning and clearly marked aisles. I’m simply overwhelmed by how much activity there is here. I love it! Why, yes, hello to you to sir! Just browsing, really. Wait a moment – what’s that over there? That thing, sir, the one that looks authentic and representative of what I believe to be your traditional cultural heritage. No, not that one; the one behind that, with the jagged edges and slightly curved handle. May I take a look? Wow, it’s just beautiful. I have literally zero idea of what this item is or could possibly be. Can you tell me if it’s handmade?
This wood — what kind of wood is this, actually? Oh, pomegranate wood — I’ve heard of eating pomegranates before, but never of using their wood. It must be truly traditional. And once you have obtained this traditional pomegranate wood, what process do you use to make it into this item that I cannot for the life of me identify? I’m very interested to know not only its current form but the whole history of how it is made into what it is today, whatever it is.
Oh, I think I know. Looking at it from the left side, could this be a ceremonial stick used to mark the coming of the summer solstice? It certainly looks like it would be used during the summer, rather than the winter, given the carvings and such, but I certainly wouldn’t need to tell you that. Or perhaps this is placed inside the young man’s lower lip during the coming of age ceremony before he sets out on his first hunt? You guys are the ones with the lower lip ceremonies, right? I’m pretty sure I read that somewhere.
Now that I’m holding it, I see that this thing has a very nice heft; the kind of heft you could really use as a paperweight. Is it a paperweight? Do you even have paperweights in your culture? Is that a remnant of the colonial era, the need for bureaucracy? Pardon my cultural ignorance, and please accept my apology on behalf of all people who have extracted resources and livelihoods from you for hundreds of years.
The design is just magnificent, truly. Did you carve it yourself, or is someone else responsible for the detailed lines on this whatever-it-is? Oh, it’s carved by someone else. Are they here? I really can’t be sure it’s authentic unless I meet the person who carved it. Your brother carved it, you say. How do I know you really have a brother? Is he not here because he’s carving things, or is he not here because he’s off playing some kind of native sporting game, like soccer? I’d love to meet him actually, how’s his English? Not good? Like how not good?
Look, you seem like a nice guy. Everyone always says I’m too gullible but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. This thing, which I still have no idea the use of which is — how much for one? How about a dollar and fifty cents? That seems reasonable to me for an item like this, of this size and shape and unknown cultural significance. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find another guy like me who is not just interested in a good deal but wants to truly understand what these things mean to your culture, whatever they are and whatever they are used for.
What’s that in your hand? Is it a baby’s blanket made from the pelt of an ocelot? Some Westerners might judge you for trading in furs, but I’m not one to impose my foreign value systems on your culture. Wait — it’s just your iPhone cover. Are you using Google Translate? I didn’t realize you got service out here.
Oh, it’s a comb. Like a hair comb? Oh, no, sorry, there’s been a misunderstanding. I have no interest in a comb. We all have combs! But that thing next to your left hand, that thing that looks like a many-pronged fork you could use in a zen garden – is that hand-carved from traditional pomegranate wood?