Tuesday 26 November 2019

#SharjahSaturday - Fen and the Heart of Sharjah

Fen's chocolate cake. This is actually legal.

Returning from the desert and its amazing wildlife, the idea is to drop into the achingly funky Fen Café, just behind the Iranian Mosque on the creek. Surrounded by art galleries and exhibition spaces (these are often packed with the most puzzling displays of strangenesses that have been created in the name of art, which is a thing that I do not even begin to pretend to comprehend), Fen Café is uniquely Sharjah. It's a collection of bonkers - hipster food served up in painfully 'on trend' furnishings with polished concrete and barasti surfaces all around, neatly packed up in a restored old house - part of the sprawling and visionary restoration of the 'Heart of Sharjah' - a project to restore the old town of Sharjah to its 1958 glories.

In this weather, the courtyard at Fen is a delight - shaded, filled with birdsong and often capped with a sky that can only, in all justice, be called cerulean.

Sitting outside at Fen

So here we take a leisurely lunch break before setting out on a dander through the 'Heart of Sharjah', perhaps stopping off at the Bait Al Naboodah to take a look at the opulent home of Sharjah's most successful pearl trader, with its teak colonnades and breezy summer room. With homes in Paris and Bombay and customers who ranged from jewellers to Maharajahs, Al Naboodah was doing alright, thank you very much, until the pearl market tanked.

By the way, pretty every historian will tell you this happened in 1929. It didn't, it happened much earlier. And they'll all tell you it was down to a double whammy of the Great Depression and the invention of the Mikimoto pearl but that is actually total rubbish. The truth is totally at odds with that lazy narrative and in Children of the Seven Sands I not only debunk the myth, but explain what actually happened, when it happened and why. That wasn't a book plug, honest. I was just saying.

The summer room at the Bait Al Naboodah - the woodwork's all fine Indian teak...

Anyway, we'll pop into the Souk Al Arsah and then pass the gorgeous Al Bait Hotel to take a wander down the shaded walkway of the Souk Al Shanasiyah with its tea rooms and shops selling cool Emirati designer thingies and then through the Irani Souk with its poor stores and groceries before we pootle over to Rain Room. There's no rush, is the idea - we've plenty of time to take it all in and enjoy exploring it all...

No comments:

From The Dungeons

Book Marketing And McNabb's Theory Of Multitouch

(Photo credit: Wikipedia ) I clearly want to tell the world about A Decent Bomber . This is perfectly natural, it's my latest...