Right after finishing from Prime and toast (previous post) I went to Soug wajif in almubarakiya. Soug wajif or Soug alhareem (Women’s market) is an old Kuwaiti soug where usually women would sit and sell traditional and women stuff.
Before going in I stood and took some pictures of the entry. This guy pictured above started hiding his face and asked me loudly not to photograph him. When I came closer I asked for the reason and he said “I don’t think my face is nice enough to be photographed.” I laughed and tried to convince him that there was nothing wrong with his face.. and we started talking. I asked him about the Soug and for how long he’s been working here.
Him: It hasn’t been long since I started working here, I only started right after the iraqi invasion (18 years) and let me tell you that the Soug isn’t what it used to be. The people are different, the sellers aren’t Kuwaitis anymore and the products aren’t as authentic as they used to be.
Me: 18 years?
Him: Yes. This lady over there (then he pointed at the woman sitting right across from us, only 2 meters away. she could hear us actually) this lady is the only Kuwaiti woman in here, she’s been working here for a long time.
*the lady now is listening to our conversation and staring while sipping her tea. The way she was sipping the tea reminded me of my grandmother, she was pouring the tea from her estekana to the estekana’s plate and then she’d take her time to sip from the little plate while listening to us. I thought she was listening*
Me: Can I take a picture of you now?
Him: yeah you can.
Me: Can I take a picture of this Kuwaiti lady too? Do you think she’d approve?
Him: Oh no no she won’t. She isn’t Kuwaiti by the way, she’s bedoun.
I drank from the tea the guy offered and walked all around the place taking pictures. (I didn’t pay for it, I thought at first that the guy would pay, coz he insisted that I should drink some, and coz I didn’t want to offend him by refusing or paying for myself I walked away without paying. I only realized later when I was in my car that I should’ve paid… oh well)
I returned to the ‘Kuwaiti’ woman and went up to her to ask her a couple of questions.
Me: Gowa khalty (hi)
Her: HAAAAAAAAA? (what?)
Me: Khalty gowwwa gowwaa
Me: SHLOOOONICH!!!!!!!!!!! (how r u)
Her: I’m goood goood
Me: Khalty how long have you been in this place?
Her: I entered this market a little girl and now I’m an old woman.. I’ve been working here for over 40 years.
Me: 40 years? What have changed over the last 40 years??
Me: Nothing? what about the people? the products?
Her: Nothing changed! NOTHING! *she was yelling and trembling. I was afraid for her health* Nothing changed. The people are now coming from all over. We have people visiting from America, from Turkey and emirates… bahrain…. qatar.. *I get it* … hmmm … saudi too! Where are you from?
Her: eee… *she’s bored with me*
While I was walking around I couldn’t help but notice how the place was very relaxing. I’ve always thought Soug Almubarakiya had this great quality to it. I mean the fact that I’m walking around, sipping tea from an estekana (with HAIL) and looking at all those outrageous colors and outdated stuff.. It’s like you’re not in Kuwait anymore, heck not even in the 2000’s..
At the end I went out of the market and stood outside to take some more shots of the entry. Thats when an old lady started covering her face frantically and yelling “Don’t take pictures of me!! I’m an old lady! why are you taking pictures of old ladies!” then 5 seconds later I hear someone yelling from behind me “ya walad!!!” I was 100% he wasn’t talking to me.. But I turned around out of curiosity and saw this very old man sitting at this white plastic chair staring at me. “Are you talking to me?” I asked hesitantly. He took one long look at me and then finally said “Yes. Pull up your pants!”
Thats when I knew it was time to leave this place and go back home.