Saturday, 29 March 2008

Favourite Places and other musings

My favourite place so far is definitely the Souk Waqif- which is downtown and has been reconstructed by the government to look exactly as it used to years ago. This means that the old buildings have been restored and newer buildings are being demolished to be replaced by the old style. So when you walk down the white-washed streets through the center of this Souq you feel as if you have stepped back through time. The lovely thing about this place is that the local people hang out there all the time. You can see men sitting in quiet places smoking and talking as they would have through time. The women also wander and shop and sit and smoke, many of them in their black diamante spotted abayas. Recently my sister and I dropped in to say goodbye to it as she was leaving the next day. We wandered down the main alleyway and came across a group of musicians (all men) sitting on red cushions in their white thobes in a u shape playing drums and a wonderful stringed instrument that I need to find the name of- like a 12 string guitar with a rounded back. The player of this instrument was an older man who also sang. The main players have a microphone in front of them and I guess there were about 20 men in the band. As we approached we spotted some seats either side of the band. On our side it said 'women' so we plopped ourselves down between some robed ladies whose eyes with heavy makeup peeped out at us. It was truly like I had been transported to some other world as the sun set and the music played on I was again so thrilled to be here. For the musicians in the audience- I was counting a 6 beat bar with the emphasis on the 3/4 beats which were emphasised by clapping or drumbeats. I have learned that music and dance are an integral part of the lifestyle of the people and is important in preserving the cultural heritage. Khaliji music is a form of traditional Bedouin music and I am yet to see the traditional dances called the Ayyalah and Ardah which are age-old martial arts performances danced to drums and tamborines and cymbals. 
Our time at the Souq always starts or ends with a Morrocan Tea at the Morrocan restaurant so we sat on the rooftop sipping wonderful mint tea with too much sugar- but what the heck? It is served by men who pour the tea out of a silver teapot from a great height into a beautiful glass. 
I think my sister fully enjoyed her time here and it is comforting to know that she can now rest easy about where we are.


Anonymous said...

It all sounds so enchanting! What is a souk? I am a little bit envious of your sister being able to jet over to you so soon in your stay.Maybe I can save up!

Tassie Lynne

MrsP said...

A souq is a market place. There are several here- a gold souq for jewellery, a camel souq, a vegetable souq. This one sort of combines a little bit of everything including falcons for sale at fabulous prices.