We stopped in at The Atlas Trading Company with half an hour to kill before lunch: our mission, crushed chile peppers, preferably in the peri-peri style. I've been harbouring thoughts about Angolan stews with a Portuguese flavour: at the construction site across the way from my parents' house, where neighbours are building an addition, a young Angolan is employed as the security guard. He stays there nights, sans electricity, and asks us or the neighbours to charge his cellphone for him. He also borrowed a ballpoint pen which he says he still using. I can only hope he is writing a novel to pass the time. He looks all of 16 and what exactly he would do if there was a serious threat to the property, I haven't a clue. We are sorry for him and my mom and I thought to research what Angolans might like to eat, and carry a bowlful over. His name is Edouardo, but he says the owners of the house call him John. I kid you not.
I found a box of fresh curry leaves and bought some because I hardly ever see them. My choice of a few branches didn't tip the scale so I have far more than I can use. There is a spice shop on 1st Avenue and 6th Street in the Village which smells similar to Atlas. So much so that at both your clothes and hair become fragrant and stay so after you have left. At Atlas your purchases are weighed in one spot, tallied in another, and payment is received in yet a third. Books on the shelves advise pilgrims on how to make the most of Mecca, and brides on how to prepare for marriage. Boxes of henna share space with coconut oil and spices whose use I can only guess at. Pulses, rice and many flours are sold from bins in bulk. An imam bought a large bag of raw cashews while we shopped and a West African man dashed in and then out again with a bag of red chile powder.