Saturday, January 03, 2009

Merceria Margarita

While my daughters were heading for 'el centro commercial' - the shopping centre, I strolled through the narrow streets in the old town 'en busqueda del tiempo perdido'.

Some shops that I remembered from when I first came to Malaga almost 30 years ago are still there, unchanged. I look for old haberdashery shops. I find two, both are closed, shutters down, building work just about to start, the writing still on the wall: 'Merceria'. In the backstreets, only a few minutes walk away from the posh lingerie shops on Calle Larios, there are shops selling more solid wares, pairs of huge white cotton knickers, enormous underpants, aprons, stockings, piles of napkins and traditional baby dresses displayed in the window.

I come across Merceria Margarita when the shutters are just let down for the night. I go back the next day. The tiny corner shop is crammed full of stuff, windows, display cases around the walls, drawers and boxes on and behind the corner tantalizingly out of reach. I ask for some yarn I have seen in the window - algodon, the one with the old-fashioned label. The woman seems miffed - not 'algodon', 'ovillas', she corrects me. Not old, she says, new, they have always been like that, de toda la vida, as if I was suggesting her merchandise was old. Alguna cosa mas?

I hesitate, not daring to ask for anything old or old-fashioned. A mother with pushchair and two little girls enters asking for leotards, they almost fill up the entire shop, followed by two young women asking for fishnet stockings. A welcome interruption giving me more time to look around. I spot some ric-rac, red & white, green & white - cinta? I ask. Piquito, she replies. I buy some and also a small good luck doll with a knitted dress and some hair clips.


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