Sunday, 25 October 2009
We did something we haven't done for years over the weekend - went for a wander through the Bur Dubai souk, the 'Cosmos Alley' part of it.
I'd forgotten about it, to be honest. Sometimes you just get stuck in your routine and stop appreciating the things around you and this was most definitely our feeling as we wandered, entranced, through the swathes of brightly decorated cloth and windows packed with dummies, displays and stacks of samples. We flapped through entrances covered with thick plastic sheeting into shops filled with the pungent sweet floral smells of dhoop, dodged past people on the narrow pavements and managed to avoid the drips from the AC units lining the streets above us. The other danger is, of course, the pigeons that sit on them (and shit on you).
The only thing that has changed down there is the car parking (Dhs 10 for the 'private' car parks is a tad stiff). Everything else is timeless, immutable. This is the Dubai I first visited back in the '80s, the Dubai of traders and bustling streets, diversity and adventures down the sunny alleys where men push hand-carts stacked with boxes past groups of animated, henna'd women shouting to each other, the air ringing with the calls of shopkeepers trying to entice punters in to view their unparalleled collection of the world's finest cloths. This one from Japan, very good cotton. This one very beautiful, madam. This finest quality and my very best price.
We've got too used to joining in with the shuffling masses grazing the malls, dumbly wandering past those rows of generic, aseptic stores with their sparse piles of globalised brand name clothes and 'lifestyle choices'.
Now the weather's cooling, I think we'll be making an effort to put in more souk-time. It's remarkably good for the soul...
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