During the cooler months of the year in Bahrain I always take the opportunity of visiting the Manama souk (market), this was one of the places that I frequented much more often many years ago… before all the air-conditioned shopping malls came into place! As much as I favour air-conditioning, I believe the shopping malls can never capture the true essence of a market place that has been built around traditions and its people! The souk really is a unique shopping experience and definitely worth a visit!
With a lousy sense of direction I usually end up wandering up (probably in circles as well) and down the many narrow streets which are crammed with shops and stalls selling gold, materials, clothes, perfumes, household items, traditional sweets, nuts, flavoured waters… and a plethora of other essentials! Very enthusiastic store holders greet you at every turn, describing their products and services and each one promising a better price than the other!
Passing by an alley way I notice the usual daily gathering of men at a traditional cafe, many of which I am sure have been friends for years. All catching up on the daily happenings around the island and their own lives, while drinking chai (tea) and smoking tobacco leaves (gidow). Still as friendly as every and happily allowing a quick photo, offering me chai and water while passing through!
Pleased and relaxed with my morning visit, never coming away from the souk empty-handed (always little surprise finds) and with my supply of lentils and whole spices in hand… my next stop is the kitchen!