Friday, August 1, 2008

Putting a Spring in Your Step

Tom and I visited the Friday market today. It is where local Kuwaiti men come to improve their image: to buy perfume, sunglasses, and weight-lifting equipment. But you can get more or less any household items here - from fridges to darts, sofas to paddling pools. In the end, I did what I do in most markets and bought some cheap socks.

The open air market is set on several acres of sandy concrete near one of the city's ring roads. Huge fans and hosepipes spraying mist over your head keep the place relatively cool. The stalls are cheap to rent, and are supposedly reserved for widows, divorcees and retired men, although many seemed to be run by Asian nationals.

Tom and I wandered around for a couple of hours trying to work out the best strategy for taking photographs. Requests for permission were met with blank looks and mild confusion. I tried to keep a low profile after that, but when my flash accidentally went off behind a group of men trying out perfume, they all looked around suddenly. My attempt to photograph flip flops was met with unconstrained laughter.

The Kuwaiti economy is 90% oil, but starting to diversify. Just before the market closed we found proof of this. A tiny "made in Kuwait" label was stuck to the bottom of a pair of sandals. They had another unique feature: each sandal was mounted on two huge red springs.

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