One of a kind

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - MARY SCH­NEI­DER star2@thes­tar.com.my

AJust an­other day at a small tourist spot in the Mediter­ranean. S I write this, I’m sit­ting out­side a small café with a clear view of the Mediter­ranean. Two hours ago, an enor­mously ugly cruise ship dropped an­chor and dis­gorged hordes of hun­gry tourists onto the nearby dock­side. Like a huge tsunami they then spread out over the small French town, tak­ing over the shops and restau­rants.

And the lo­cals were ready for them, with their stalls set up a few me­tres away from the dock. Sun-baked peo­ple who have seen it all dis­play­ing wares that range from high-end la­bels to lo­cal art, jew­ellery, leather goods and what looks like the con­tents of my stor­age cup­board be­neath my stairs.

Even I, hard­ened though I am af­ter many years of hag­gling in Pe­nang, have fallen for the charms of these ped­dlers of wares and com­pli­ments. “Oh, that neck­lace looks so pretty on you,” one of them said.

“A pair of match­ing ear­rings is all you need to set it off. And don’t for­get, they’re one of a kind. No one else has such jew­ellery, any­where.”

The next day, I dis­cov­ered that the word “unique” has a dif­fer­ent mean­ing to some of these peo­ple, be­cause my one-of-a-kind jew­ellery was on dis­play again.

As I sit be­neath the shade of the café’s awning, drink­ing over-priced sparkling min­eral water, a bloated mid­dle-aged cou­ple sit at a nearby ta­ble, guz­zling large quan­ti­ties of beer. A bright red sticker strate­gi­cally placed on both their T-shirts tells ev­ery­one the name of their cruise ship; per­chance they drink too much and have to be car­ried back on­board.

Large gold rings adorn eight of the man’s fin­gers, while his part­ner has ob­vi­ously spent her money on her hair, which is bright red and bouf­fant. The con­trast with her pale skin hurts my eyes and I have to avert my gaze. se­lected wheat flour. They con­tain at least 80% wheat con­tent and have no ar­ti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers and preser­va­tives.

The bis­cuits taste great with their won­der­ful aroma and sprin­kling of pars­ley flakes. In neat bite-sized por­tions, one can en­joy them any­time, any­where.

Munchy’s Wheat Krunch Col­la­gen comes in the 440g Fam­ily Pack and 156g Shar­ing Pack. START your day with Sum­mer’s Eve’s Fem­i­nine Wash. Its gen­tle, soap-free, pHbal­anced for­mula en­sures that it is safe for ev­ery­day use by cleans­ing away odour-caus­ing bac­te­ria.

There are two vari­ants – Nor­mal Skin Wash which comes with a faint flow­ery scent, and the un­scented Sen­si­tive Skin Wash.

There is also the Sum­mer’s Eve Cleans­ing Wipes that gen­tly re­moves odour so you can main­tain that fresh­ness. They’re ideal for use daily, es­pe­cially dur­ing your pe­riod, when you may need a lit­tle ex­tra clean­li­ness and odour con­trol. It is al­co­hol-free and avail­able in­di­vid­u­ally-wrapped for con­ve­nient use.

At an­other ta­ble, a cou­ple dressed in match­ing white jeans, nau­ti­cal T-shirts and sun tan stare va­cantly into the dis­tance as they both sip a glass of red wine. The epit­ome of French chic, every­thing about them looks one-of-a-kind – or maybe two-of-a-kind. They prob­a­bly have a lux­ury yacht moored in the bay, primed for de­par­ture at the first hint of bore­dom.

A man hunched over a notebook oc­cu­pies yet an­other ta­ble. Ev­ery now and then he stops writ­ing, looks at the peo­ple sit­ting nearby and then be­gins tap­ping on his key­board again. Maybe he’s a travel writer, I think, as I, too, re­sume my writ­ing.

As the sun drops to­wards the hori­zon, the pick­led cou­ple make their way back to their ship, their sou­venirs tucked un­der their arms. Later, over their buf­fet din­ner, they will prob­a­bly share sto­ries of their on-shore es­capades with their fel­low din­ers.

The chic cou­ple also get up to go. And that’s when I spot the minia­ture dog that has been ob­scured be­hind the wo­man’s tote bag be­side the ta­ble. I watch them as they dis­ap­pear from sight, and all I can think about is, where do dogs poop when they’re at sea?

De­spite the un­usu­ally hot Oc­to­ber weather that the south of France has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing lately, the nights can be quite chilly. So I get up to make my way back to my apart­ment as soon as the sun has set.

The man with the notebook looks up and smiles at me. I smile back. If I’d been drink­ing wine in­stead of water, I might have asked him what he was writ­ing. But I wasn’t and I didn’t.

Walk­ing along the wa­ter­front, I no­tice that the enor­mously ugly cruise ship has raised an­chor and is head­ing out on the next leg of its jour­ney.

As I’m half­way up the 337 steps that lead to my apart­ment perched on the hill­side, I turn and look down to­wards the sea. The sun has been re­placed by a pale sil­ver moon; the same sil­ver moon that any­one in that café who cared to look out of their win­dow that night would have been able to see. All of us so dif­fer­ent, yet un­der the same moon.

Vive la dif­fer­ence! n Check out Mary on Face­book at face­book. com/mary.sch­nei­der.writer. Reader re­sponse can be di­rected to star2@thes­tar.com.my.

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