The gold souk has all the bling every Kardashian needs. The women stare at shops like high alters and the watchman wears all of Geneva’s timepieces. It’s fun, it’s Dubai; the lure of a fool’s gold.
Agnes is a sweetie. When I am thirsty she makes me tea. I have found Earl Grey in the market. When I am hungry she makes me breakfast. She is an artist with eggs and milk. As the days add up to a week she chats easily about her other life in Kampala. Her three-year-old daughter she has not seen for a year, her mother, (she smiles, I would like to meet her mother) and the money she saves to send home. She has no husband or lover to cry over, but I don’t know why. She is not a woman of many words and holds her pain close. Smiles a lot because she hovers about uncomfortable in this other land, which is not hers, making the most of what life gives, making me grateful of what life gives.
In this old part of town, astonishing that it has survived, only a handful of rambling streets, I have found, (like the beach) a matured soul at peace. It is a trivial place without the need for the arrogant naked ambition of her neighbour to show the world – I am bigger and better – with the next glitzy tower a shortcut to Heaven. There are only two riad’s in this old town, a few artist studios, a few jumble shops which need searching to find what is what, the odd Arabic coffee shops and restaurants. The tourist’s coaches arrive to see what is left of a desert age which has mostly gone. They stare at me reading the short stories of Maupassant and Turgenev on Persian carpets and wide pillows spread out for the lazy sun in a small, old town square. The locals do the same with the benefit of air-conditioning, and think me a mad dog and English. Then the tourists leave. The evening becomes the old towns again. I am as close as the old town has to call a local. It’s been a week now.