Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Chaotic Beauty
   
Naghi’s (Corner of St. Ann and Royal Street)
Monday 7/10/17 10:15AM

Crystal chandeliers sparkle, drawing first my eyes and then my feet into Naghi’s boutique. “Do you mind,” I ask the man, “if we come and write here awhile?” Without hesitation he waves us in. “Come, come. Enjoy!”

The center of the room is a kaleidoscope of fountains, the largest in the middle and moving out in a five foot radius, a hodgepodge of cultures and water spouting magic.

‘Purple Rain’ is painted in vivid variations of eggplant, lavender, and indigo acrylics. It boldly takes up the entire wall above the brick fireplace, filling the corner as brashly as Prince himself might have done when he was alive.

Behaving as if they belong there, frightening African masks scowl, laugh and silently scream at me from their positions on the walls. Mixed intermittently among them is a shining white marble statue of three Greek gods, frozen forever in wrestling battle, naked, and tortured for all eternity.

I am surprised by a nearly life sized Japanese warrior who suddenly stands in front of me. I do not remember him when I stopped. His battle shield is held strong in his grip. He is fierce and proud.

Six feet of wooden crocodile bump my heel as I turn, its tail curled in warning, mouth open and threatening. Bending down, I remove the rectangle of loose wood carved from mid-back, where I find two rows of six smoothly carved circles. What would rest here, I wonder. Was it built to hold a dozen crocodile eggs, and if so, why would anyone want twelve eggs of a crocodile, wooden or otherwise. Then, I think, for that matter, why would anyone want six feet of wooden crocodile. Yet, someone must have at some point. It must have guarded a home, been a favored belonging to a royal or possibly and eccentric collector, before coming to rest on the concrete floor of Naghi’s.

There are too many things, and I cannot stop finding more favorites. Overhead, a gaudy and deliciously ornate chandelier takes up the top four feet of ceiling space. It spreads out over at least another four feet in diameter. Unable to resist, I check the tag: Handmade Italian chandelier, $26,000.

From a wall sized mirror that rests on the floor, my own legs reflect back to me, along with the proudly high, large, firm buttocks and protruding breasts of some African fertility goddess, water bowl atop her distorted face. She is simultaneously terrifying and beguiling.

My pen has not stopped moving since we entered the shop. I want to sit on the coolness of the cement, lean against a giant fish that once sprayed water in some grand European garden, spoon beside the crocodile, gaze up into the crystals of one of the hundred chandeliers, pray to the gods-Greek, Egyptian, Christian, Hindu, all of them here for the choosing. I could stay inside Naghi’s forever, but for the call of the next spot and the next round of writing.

As we return to the sidewalk, I glance over my shoulder, and feel the eyes upon me in final farewell.


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