Thursday, 16 April 2009

District 34 Streetscape

Here's a quickly-thrown-together gallery of scenes and storefronts taken on a quiet sunny afternoon in Madinat Khalifa South, our Doha District 34 neighbourhood; scenes we have become used to being part of on daily walks round the corner for fresh supplies of milk or fruit for a good price, without the pressures of a trip to the mall.

This is Zaid bin Wahb St from our corner.

Al Muhannadi Chickens is the first shop you come to.

Still haven't been in to choose a bird to be woken from its siesta and meet its fate...dunno if they sell eggs too.

A few doors along is the takeway shop - as earlier reported, they are indeed tasty, and I can't say it wasn't some leftovers from our fridge that caused me suffering...

This is the other side of what is really our local main shopping street, Thabit bin Qais.

Which includes a ladies' tailor, a greengrocer, a butchery, an Arab bakery, three small grocery shops more like a NZ dairy (there are another dozen or more others scattered around the surrounding streets), and the Madinat Khalifa International Communications Centre. A shop markets itself by its good name here.

This is sort of MK South CBD central - the corner of Thabit bin Qais looking down Fidaa St where all the building and electrical supplies stores are, with the mosque out of shot behind us, the streetcorner rubbish bin not wanting to be left out (we have one on our corner of course; I'm getting to know some of its cats but they aren't about to trust me just yet).

And this is looking back down TbQ St.

Just around the corner is this useful supplier. I presume the readymades are garments.

This barber (all the hairdressers, mens or ladies, are called saloons) isn't the one I got my haircut at. There are at least ten more in the vicinity, as well as several more in Souk Al Ali beyond Gharrafa junction, and I just went for the nearest to the apartment in case it became necessary to creep back home hiding a shameful basin-cut or unasked-for shave. In fact, the excellent service was I'm sure the equal of that provided by any other local establishment: a full 45 minutes for QR25, including scalp and neck massage (crack! ouch) and super-pernickety trimming, and no jokey banter - it's a serious business (and not much English spoken anyway).

Further afield (i.e. four or five streets away) a greater variety of traders vie for your commerce; this is just one of a legion of Trading and Contracting (or similar) Companies large and mostly small to be found all over Doha. I guess you know you need one when you need one.

The New Book Shop looks to have seen better days.

Beware the flying fists of sanitaryware!

Here you can see the Corner Butchery which isn't on the corner.

The New Pluto is marginally larger than the little grocery shops, but does resemble a supermarket in that it stocks more brands of otherwise identical tinned goods than them.

It's just a few doors from No-Rules Intersection (which I posted a video of earlier, not realising that it was indeed located just a few blocks from us). Here it is, captured in a rare moment with no traffic.

From here we can walk straight home up Al Tadamun St, past another fine eating establishment and yet another grocery (many here are called Cold Stores),

and another view of Thabit bin Qais.

Close to home is an apparent family empire (Darko Trading and Construction, and Darko Al Modern Grocery)

and a corner of old Doha which may be awaiting redevelopment, or may decide not to wait for the wrecker's ball.

And here we are back home near our shiny new apartment, as the workers return for the afternoon shift.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the 'hood, intended to give a flavour of everyday reality here; though to truly reflect that, I want to go back later in the day and snap a few smiling (mainly Indian) faces. It ain't all souqs and and supermodern development projects, though there's plenty more of that to report on in weeks to come. To appreciate this place you have to breathe a bit of desert air looking for the camel racetrack and get your feet dusty getting lost in the backstreets, as well as joining the traffic ratrace and enjoying the world-class museums, magnificent stadiums, designer boutiques, and more or less expensive restaurants. I still find both sides of Qatar equally fascinating.

We promise to continue our untiring (well, sometimes quite tiring) efforts to experience all of this and more on your behalf and share some of the fascination.

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