Sunday, 25 October 2009

The Souk


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...

11 comments:

Oussama said...

A reminder of much simpler times and probably more fun days. Malls have so pampered us to the point we are losing touch with a parallel reality that coexists a few blocks away

Paraglider said...

I'm with you on this one. The old Bur Dubai souk, the museum, and a trip on an abra to the spice & gold souks on the Deira side are still the best way to enjoy Dubai. I can go for months without ever entering a mall. One's as dull as the next.

Seabee said...

Agree with Paraglider - when I can I just wander the Creek/souk area and always take an abra across and back. Apart from Satwa nothing else says 'Dubai' to me.

Media Junkie said...

reading this makes me want to jump on the nearest abra and stroll the creek area.

agree with all the above.

Vineetha said...

I visit quite often! I love that side of Dubai - much more real than most of the newer attractions the other side of town.
And even after more than twenty years, nothing beats a walk by the Creek.

KJ said...

Man, it would truly be great if you visit Damascus one day! You'd love the old souks :)

I haven't been to the old souk here, ever... I probably should!

alexander... said...

Karim, I'd love to. I've spent happy hours wandering the souk at Halab (which is where the Fake Plastic Souks header image comes from, BTW), a mixture of wonderment and disorientating strangeness - the manic pace of the place (I watched a dead old man being dragged out of the place, which was startling) and its sheer energy were astounding...

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

Yeah! I wanna visit an authentic old souk someday. Oh, I did that in Istanbul, at the Old Spices Bazaar. It's awesome.

Dubai Photo Story said...

I can spend hours... days walking around Bur Dubai . The sheer energy of the place is something worth experiencing!!

Check out my blog for posts about the souk besides a few on the abras and a few stray shots of Bur Dubai.

KJ said...

Since you went to Halab I will forgive you for calling me Karim :P

alexander... said...

Kinan, Kinan, Kinan.

I am an idiot.

Reminder unnecessary..

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