So far, we’ve only been to one souq; however, that souq has provided us with plenty of adventure. The textile souq is smaller than the legendary gold and spice souqs, and is more what the collection of shops in the area is referred to than a real open air bazaar, yet it still managed to utterly confuse us.
Our first venture to the textile souq was with a bigger group, but three of us split off to explore and shop. I was overwhelmed by merely the first shop we entered, which had racks upon racks of gorgeous garments in all different styles, some more Western, and some very specific such as Pakistani kurtis. The prices were all relatively inexpensive as well.
We had limited time as we had to meet up with our other friends for dinner then; however, one friend found a lovely garment that the saleslady offered to tailor for free. I was relatively certain that I’d remember where the shop had been, and sure enough, once we left I knew exactly where we were and where to meet our friends.
The other two girls went back that week and spent about four hours trying to find the shop to no avail…
Saturday, I booked flights to Iran and realized I needed a long skirt and a proper headscarf to respect their dress code, so when the two asked me to go back with them to locate the shop, I obliged. I was sure I knew exactly where it was.
However, the shop wasn’t in the block I thought it was in, to my astonishment. I was positive that had been the street we had walked down. I could picture the shop in my mind–it was on a bigish street that ran perpendicular to the main road; it was about yay long and thus had an alley behind it, and it was the first street off the main road. The other two had entirely different mental images of the shop.
I remembered enough to be able to retrace our steps from the previous trip, and eventually found the store–it was half a block further than I had thought it was, making me very frustrated with myself for giving up so quickly. The girls swore they had passed it at least four or five times, showing how fickle the memory is and how mazelike the streets are, especially since most shops sold very similar items.
The salesmen on the streets are extremely pushy, wanting to sell us brand name handbags, perfumes, and jewellery. At one point, I got so frustrated with one that I said “Look at my shoes–do you really think I care about handbags?” I was wearing my beloved versatile Chacos and had a military-green messenger bag for holding basically nothing but a waterbottle and my wallet.
My biggest struggle with the souqs is how convincing the shopkeepers are. I know myself, and I know that once I’ve had someone show me a few items I’ll feel obligated to buy it. If they tell me anything about themselves, they’ve made their money. Thus, I got much better at extracting prices from them at first glance.
The last shop we went into had some lovely headscarves that, using the haggling skills I’d learned from watching my friends, I got for a reasonable price–though as he’d told me his life story by that point, I probably would have paid a lot more so as not to feel bad! I also found a skirt suitable for Iran, to my delight.
Though I’m still by no means a shopper, I had a lot of fun seeing display upon display of fabric in all different colours and designs. It’s really quite incredible, and I know I’ll be returning to buy gifts for more feminine friends.