Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

Sharjah plant souq

One of the oddities about traditional shopping in the Middle East is that similar shops tend to be grouped together. In Damascus, we lived near an area we jokingly referred to as "the tire district" because there was a good stretch of storefronts all in a row that sold tires and did auto repair. If you needed a tire changed or your car fixed, that is where you went.

In the souqs and bazaars, you will often find different stalls grouped together by category - the fabric area, the soap area, the shoe area, etc. It's not like there's one store selling all of the one thing - there are separate owners and premises for each shop. They're all just right next to each other. I remember thinking that this went against the American way of spreading out competition, but it sure is nice, as a buyer, to be able to comparison shop with such ease rather than having to drive across town to check out a rival store.

In Sharjah, there is a souq set aside just for plants. It's right across Corniche Road from the Fish Souq, which makes for an interesting battle of smells. We went there yesterday to gather up some plants for our backyard now that the grass is finally grown in.

This is the best picture I could get while holding Magdalena right next to the busy road - this is the Plant Souq looking the other direction from the previous picture. As you can see, it's packed to bursting with plants and gardening accessories of all kinds. You can get seeds, soil, pots, trellises, and any kind of plant from very small to good-sized trees. It's just like your local Lowe's garden section, except not quite, because it's really just a line of tin shacks strung along the street.

We ended up getting some bougainvillea, jasmine, a plumeria tree, and some spindly green ground cover stuff. I wanted what I've always known as Wandering Jew for ground cover but honestly, thinking of the potential extreme awkwardness and misunderstanding would most likely result from asking for Wandering Jew from a dude at the Plant Souq made me reconsider. I did send out a feeler in the form of "do you have any...purple plants?" with no result. (Jeremy spotted some later on, so we may have to make a return trip.)

So far, we've planted the tree and the two jasmines. Try to restrain your amazement. Ha ha. Obviously it is still a work in progress. But before you look down your nose at it too much, keep in mind the Before:

SUCH a difference. We are so happy our backyard is coming along...

...just in time for a long, hot summer. Oh well. At least it will be nice to look at through our back patio door.

June 17th, outsourced

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