“They’re all very pretty,” I hear the words from the direction of the two ladies holding a traditional hand-woven tablecloth each, addressed to the woman inspecting their merchandise. They seemed doing their best to sell their wares calling out to the tourists passing by. Many of them welcomed the short stop on the landing between the two long flights of steps, they closely examined the colourful tablecloths on offer and listened to the explanations the two ladies were giving. Most were nodding, but not a single one engaged in a conversation. Then there was a brief pause in the continuous flow of tourists, which left me the only person within hearing distance of the two ladies. I was not a tourist, the city being my home town, but with a camera dangling from my neck they took me for one. The lady on the right called out to me “Come closer, I’m sure you’ll find a tablecloth you like!” I smiled back but did not move or respond. “They’re all very pretty,” she added in a voice that was on the verge of imploring. Suddenly a new batch of real tourist appeared and I was no longer a target audience. And I was left wondering why the lady used her mother tongue when speaking to me, a language shared by a very small population in a single country and completely incomprehensible to foreigners.
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