Into the Souk…..
Long ago, much younger with lots of dreams, but with least desire to find myself in the land of the sands – an offer came knocking at the door to be in Kuwait. Let alone the oil-money, the experience of being in an Arab world for the first time on a couple of year project turned out to be an eye-opener. After a decade long gap, the urge for the scent of the sands found me in Bahrain for a short week stay. I was not going to pass up the chance though it was for a day in Qatar last month.
There’s something mystical about this geographic location on our planet that is fascinating – eerie silence, endless stretch of sand, Bedouin and their gingerly camels, timely prayer calls of the muezzin, men in their dishdasha and their women clad in black with dark-eyes peering through the veil, despite the sweltering heat though protective during sand-storms – again, another façade of creativity by nature ! Of course the ‘landscape’ of the entire middle-east has seen vast changes since my days in Kuwait as I set to explore my time in Doha, Qatar.
Not many options in terms of ‘sights’ and the possibility of exploring the tradition is limited too as the society is inclusive. But the Arabic rhythm combined with hand-clapping is the catchy aspect of the culture as music in any place will always find an escape-route. The Islamic Museum and Souk Waqif in Doha are places worth the visit. The museum has a vast collection of expensive and exquisite Indian jewelry (no wonder we do not find them here in India !) of the centuries gone by. And the Souk is the place to do time-travel as it offers the feel of Arabian markets of the bygone era, selling garments to spices, handicrafts, brassware, lanterns, carpets to herbal oils.