I dropped by Prosi, Vienna's best international grocery, to buy some taco shells and refried beans on Saturday. The street outside had been blocked off and a stage set up for the Prosi Strassenfest Exotic Festival. I scanned the stands selling food from Zambia and Ecuador, coffee and tea from Ethiopia, and cookies from, um, Poland. I had formed my plan for the day.
I took the subway home, picked the kids up, and got back there as fast as I could.
Just as we arrived, a tiny Indian dancer swept onstage, twirling around in a classical style mixed with a few Bollywood moves and yoga poses. "Watch her hands," I said as I squatted next to Adinah and V. She spun and fluttered them like she was letting loose magic birds.
In short order, we saw a demonstration of a homegrown fusion of African and Shri Lankan dance, then a Viennese Samba troupe, and then a batch of belly dancers with huge, Theda Bara-style capes. V. loved all this boogie. Soon she was swiveling her hips, grabbing her crotch, and giving the world her best Johnny Rotten sneer. This is how V. rocks out. One day, she will be onstage with Justin Timberlake or Lady Gaga, whichever lasts longer.
For about the fortieth time, I asked the girls if they were hungry yet. Adinah gave me a barely enthusiastic, 'Yeah,' and we were off! I steered the posse to the nearest stall, which turned out to be Tanzanian. Adinah is usually a pasta-bread-rice gal, but she surprised me by asking for a spicy beef turnover. I snapped up a roasted chicken drumstick. V. just wanted the sweet vanilla fritters. Uh uh, real food first, I insisted.
We spun over to the Indian booth, and Adinah got her (curried) rice with chapati, which V. also nibbled. I got the spicy chicken and lemon pickles. Ouch. Then V. got those fritters at last.
Then it was henna tattoo time. At that stand, the girl in the sari, who looked like a member of the Upper Austria caste, explained that if she put a design on the girls' hands, they'd have to keep their hands still for two hours. HA HA HA! Also, she only had a dark brown henna, which didn't look like it would be visible on Adinah's chocolate skin. We did it anyway. And just as Ms. Sari finished up with them, it started raining.
We were afraid the rain would wash off the dye, so both girls covered their tattoos as we ran for the subway. Two hours later, Adinah and I scratched the henna off her hand. Underneath was a pretty brown rose.
Then we giggled as we climbed into V.'s bed, where she was already sawing zzzzz's. We scratched off her henna--somehow she'd kept it basically intact--and now she had a nice new rose, too.
It was a nice day.