Wednesday, November 7, 2007

To be continued...

While I was writing my last post about "tossing the bones" in Madagascar, I had this idea for my next post. Imagine God tells you: “Look here, I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse (heard this before). Choose two persons, outside your family or relationships who died in the past few years and whom you consider worthy of carrying on living a few more years and I will bring them to life again”.
I was going to get deeply into that today but I'm afraid I will have to leave it until Sunday.
My business partner is coming to visit and lots of serious talk is on the upcoming agenda.
But, if you like the idea, do think about it and when I send my post on Sunday, tell me what your election would be.
In the meantime, dear blog and dear all, I leave you in the company of my sweet neighbour.

This little horse belongs to one of my neighbours right at the corner. He spends long hours on his own, in a small paddock. I wonder whether he feels sad or lonely.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Please toss my bones

Sundays are usually quiet in my village. Yesterday even more, as most people celebrated el dia de los muertos and went to the churchyard to put flowers on the graves.
As I told you before both my parents are from Madagascar. They live in France but often go back to the red island. Last week I spoke to my father on the phone before he went back there. He said, he wanted me and my sisters to come over in August, that it was a matter of great importance. It will be two years that one of my uncles died and his bones need to be "tossed over".
I actually cannot find the right phrase in English. In French, we call this ceremony: "le retournement des morts", literally meaning, "the turning over of the dead". You see, even if most people in Madagascar are catholic or protestant like my parents – due to the presence of missionaries in the past – they strongly maintain their traditions towards death. In Madagascar, you just don't die and that's it.
You die and then after two or three years, the family consults a soothsayer who decides that now is the time to exhume your body and toss over the bones. This tradition is called the “famadihana”. Its aim is to give some peace to the dead person and honour him/her. The exhumed body is first carried by a procession of musicians. The whole affair is supposed to be a very happy event, attended sometimes by a hundred of persons, namely the members of the family, guests and people from the village.
Then the bones are carefully cleaned according to a ritual procedure and wrapped into a piece of white silk, which is called a “lamba”. The “lamba” is also a traditional Malagasy piece of clothing, like a big shawl, which women wrap around their shoulders - I remember having seen black and white photos of my grandmother wearing a tailored suit and a silk lamba over her shoulders. She looked so dignified and elegant –
In turn, the members of the family come and talk to the corpse, ask for some advice, sing a song and even dance with the corpse. Gifts are made, it can be food, photographs, money…The oldest members of the family deliver a speech. Malagasy speeches are also a vivid tradition and are non ending ! There is a lot to drink and to eat; a zebu might be killed for the occasion. Everybody is very happy but lots of tears are also shed.
I attended a “famadihana” many years ago, when I was a teenager and was greatly impressed. Actually, the only occasions I went to Madagascar were to attend a funeral or a “famadihana”.
I have a slight pang in my heart when I realize that one day, hopefully in a very very long time, I will have to celebrate the death of my parents.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Treasure hunt in Almuñecar

On the first Saturday of every month, a big carboot sale in aid of cancer research takes place in Almuñecar on the coast. I always leave home with a minimum cash on me and inevitably end up borrowing money to friends I meet on the market or withdraw more cash. If I fall in love with such and such object, I find it really hard to resist, as long as its price remains within the limits of reason. Here are a few finds I would have liked to bring home with me today

A nice antique coffee grinder
A set of old Spanish lemonade bottles

A few lanterns from my dear French-Morrocan friends Patricia and Atman. Actually I got a yellow leather “pouf” from them. Thanks for the little discount Patricia and…lending me money this morning !

A few copper items

Oh my, I love this old recorder

Dainty little white cups to have tea or coffee with my friends

When I saw it, I knew it was there waiting for me and that it would look perfect in my bedroom.
This white metal dummy. You can’t see it on the photograph but it has a little door at its back so that little objects can be displayed inside it.

The ambiance of the market is very enjoyable. I meet friends whom I haven’t seen for ages, bargains are good and plenty. On some stalls, clothes are even given away. There is a free spirit atmosphere. You meet happy people in unusual outfits

But look at the detail of his own interpretation of a Spaniard-Scottish-hippy kilt. Clever isn't it ?

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