Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Carpet sellers, cosmetics, and the circle of life (minus Simba)

We’ve been to Deira quite a few times before.

But confidently assuming we’d find it easily this time may have been our first mistake. Leaving the map behind? Possibly our second. While it’s not always helpful (or accurate) at least it’s in English, which is more than the motorway and street signs.

Getting lost can be interesting, however. We discovered a whole backwater of colourful streets, including one that was full of toys. There were shop fronts decorated with balloons beside dusty alleyways, where the only modern thing was a random assortment of air conditioning outlets. The line of cars in front ground to a Saudi crawl. Interesting and "tempting" merchandise walked right in front of us. 

Just what any small Saudi lad would love for his birthday? Forget the Lego and the Playmobile.

Monday, 4 July 2011

A long way from Amsterdam


Shutters had just gone down in the Riyadh Gallery Mall and our shopping was over for the moment.  Time to find a place to sit, eat and wait out prayer time.

The Imam’s voice, calling the faithful, resonated into every corner. Impossible to shut out, and no point in even trying to have a conversation. I checked my watch: half an hour to go. Inshallah.

To our left a woman stopped to pray. She was facing away from us, but as she bowed and knelt, I caught a glimpse of lips moving silently. She was obviously facing Mecca, but what got me was how she worked this out with such apparent aplomb – one minute vertical with shopping bags, the next horizontal on the floor. 

Only a week ago I’d been in Amsterdam.