There is one photo stuck in the back of my mind that never ceased to flash passion inside me, sparkling an image of the past as if time stood there forever. That photo is of my late father standing in front of his shop, proud like he owned the world. That shop, his customers, the neighboring shops and their owners were in fact half of his world. The other half was his family.
Now with the world changing so rapidly, globalization, and the spread of malls and concept shops, these images are becoming rare and scarce with time.
When you set your sails destined to discover and unravel the reality of a new and unfamiliar culture and its past, you read their books, learn their language, look at their architecture, art, music, dance, poetry, etc… but there is a place where all of that meet together, and all aspects of culture intermingle and get intertwined, the tiny shop. All merchants, artists, engineers, kings and beggars, wise and fool, from every corner of the society of that culture, they stop at that one shop, one day or more, maybe every day and contribute something. They all meet there, they talk, buy, sell, argue, admire, wonder, desire, or even get disgusted and run, but they do that not knowing that they have become partners with that shop owner at that at one particular moment in time, they are part of the deal that took place there, they left their mark.
These shops were not built at one time but over centuries. Traders and shop owners have kept the trade and these shops from one generation to another. Carrying the flag, preserving the culture, capturing history in time, and spreading it on the streets of old Souks.
These shops have something to say, and everyone gets the message in his own way, but the words have been loudly spoken, and we cannot ignore their value. An expression of art, images of vivid colors, and people with carved expressions on their faces, expressions of pride, of glory, and even misery at times, images that surpass time and place, and take us on a fascinating voyage full of charm, culture, history, sometimes comedy or tragedy, but it’s always enchanting.