The Dubai Shopping Festival had just began – earlier than usual – when I went to Dubai. And it was the weekend before Christmas. Half the world seemed to have landed in Dubai at that time, to shop, and shop some more. One crazy evening at the maddeningly crowded Mall of Emirates, and I decided to stay away from the mall-mess.
I hopped on to an open top bus that Sunday and explored Dubai on foot, by bus and by boat. I discovered more “shopping” opportunities in Dubai – the souks, or local markets, filled with the sounds and smells of the Middle East and South Asia. Tiny shops selling incense sticks and pictures of goddess Lakshmi. And cheerful yellow marigold flowers that belong right in any shop lining the main street leading to the large temple in any town in South India. And then the ads on the walls announcing “bed space available for Tamil Bachelor. Please contact…“ it is possible to close your eyes and wonder for a minute about where you are.
I walked through narrow winding lanes, each sharp turn leading into narrower lanes, each filled with some sort of “speciality goods” or the other. These souks seem right out of the distant past, with their deep red high arches and wooden lanterns that bring the lanes alive after the world outside gets dark. For these souks represent a world inside another world.
The shop-keepers along these souks seemed to be as much of detached observers s we, the tourists were. Chatting among themselves, sipping glass after steaming glass of fragrant tea, they seemed to know the real buyer from the rest of the interested crowd. Most often, they simply ignored your presence, or welcomed you into their little group of gossiping men with a smile.
Silks and cotton, spices and nuts, silver and gold… Large air-conditioned shops, their windows glittering with all the gold on show, and small roadside stalls, their wares seeming to wink at your right out of the tall rickety tables on which they are displayed.
Surely, there is a lot to buy in Dubai!
Note : Here is my earlier post on Dubai on Itchy Feet – Dubai and the -est obsession