There is a genre – street photography. I’m shy. And I dislike encounters. And I don’t want to ask. And I don’t want a pose. And I don’t want to be giving someone money to take a picture. You may not like it, but in America, anyone on the street is fair game. Commercial use is a different story. But for personal use, it’s all good. Here’s what you do. It’s simple. (Somehow people don’t object as much to iPhone. But I use a camera.) Use your camera on wide angle, set the shutter speed to about 1/125. Then do what it says – point and shoot. Don’t look. There is the flavor of an imperfectly composed shot. It works. You hit. You miss. Sometimes you win. If you are unsure shoot more than one. Don’t stop moving. And don’t let anyone catch on that you are taking pictures. Slices of life, unposed, unpretentious, natural…it’s more for me to have a flavor of life to recall. In Jeddah the heat of the day has everyone indoors. Some shops are open. But at night the whole tenor changes and the streets of the old city are teaming with activity. The heat of the day is lowered to simply unbearable as opposed to daytime hell. And digital allows you to take images I could never do with film. There’s a vibrancy to night life in the city.
Push carts abound. Vendors will sell any kind of produce. The big supermarkets – nope – people buy, sell, and bargain – probably illegally. But there is definite supply and demand.
Sugar cane – it’s crushed and the liquid is served up as a drink. It’s bland. Almost yuck! You need to add lime and ginger when you crush it. That’s a drink! Jules and I learned this in Zanzibar. She drank the whole thing and left me a taste. So I know from that small sample how to fix this. But nope, not in Jeddah.
Sticks – there is vendor in this spot, his spot. And now there are a couple of others – competition. They cut them and bundle them. They are to rub your teeth – like a toothbrush. No Crest, Colgate, or Tom’s of Maine. Buy a bundle. Share them or use them yourself.
Sewing – the tailors use a fairly unsophisticated machine to do their magic. If you are native, you wear a thobe and someone has to make them. It looks like he has made lots. And overwhelmingly they are white. And, abayas are black. Who’s the biggest loser?
Life in the city. It all happens at night. There are huge super malls. But what’s new there? Everyone has seen a mall by now? Online shopping! Walmart is scared! Amazon rules? Imagine the next big thing….
Shisha – it’s what they smoke. I know it as a water pipe. Hookah, another name. It connotes smoking through water. I read that the dose of toxic nicotine is equivalent to hundreds of cigarettes in a single session of smoking shisha. Don’t do it! It’s bad for you.
It started when I passed a store that sells water pipes. It was the tip of the iceberg. Around Jeddah there are stores which will sell you custom made thobes. The stores are congregated in a few places. There might be a dozen or more shops side by side competing for business. There is another location for honey and another for olive oil, dates, and so forth. It’s silly economics. All the prices must be comparable.
The water pipe stores are on a narrow street. And then, much to my surprise, an artisan was right there. He was working away in an open shop with horrible fluorescent lighting. I paused, he looked up, and I did something I never do; I asked if he minded if I took his picture. And he was okay with it. And I got a couple. I did not try to overstay my welcome. Yay! It’s street photography and ordinarily I just shoot and look like I’m doing something else. But we were eye to eye. There was no hiding intent. And he was gracious and I said thanks. We had our moment and I moved on. I’d buy one. They sell his product next door. But, I don’t smoke. So, no…
Never ever! Never ever fly through Riyadh. I said it twice. You have been warned!
It’s a beautiful airport. It is a transit hub that funnels passengers to Jeddah/Mecca. Flights leave from multiple airlines continuously. I arrived from the US on a 6PM flight. My connecting flight to Jeddah was at 9PM. Plenty of time. I watched the board for announcements beginning an hour before the flight. Ten minutes after my flight departed, they posted – “Departed” – on the flight status board. No gate. No warning. No last call. Nothing. They never announced the gate number. This was the start to the nightmare. I caught a flight out at 1AM. Flights leave every hour. My plane was half empty. So go figure. I got to Jeddah airport and was met by the hospital driver. We threw my bags into the trunk. The driver turned to me and asked if I had the keys. No! He called another driver – for a spare key? No! For tools to break into the car! At 4AM we are in the parking lot breaking and entering. Really! It was a long flight made longer by a series of errors.
Never ever fly through Riyadh to make a connection. I have heard horror stories from others. If you feel inclined to ignore the warning….
Of all the things we never imagined, Jules visiting Jeddah would be right up there on the list. But she really does love her dad. I posted a nice lead picture. Women hate humor in their photographs. (Just wait.)
She came for a visit. You have to wear an abaya. I borrowed one. She wore it. It’s like your own personal steam bath. She even wore the scarf although that is pretty optional for non Muslims. Sort of… No Jules did not go over the top with heat stroke. She wanted to see camels. And we thought there were some on the other side. Dopey? Yup, I guess the heat did get to her. She let me take this awful pic. One looks very interesting out of context wearing a dive mask on dry land. It’s not awful. It’s just not flattering. Right? She teaches Little kids. Sharing? Nope.
This was a raspberry macaroon. She ate the whole thing and never offered me a taste. That’s revenge! She’s still my favorite daughter.
The experiment lasted until evening. Then I tested the waters and Bidi left. She’s much happier. So much for my theory about being out in 100 degree weather with a fur coat – it hot! Right? I think that she might have come around. But hey!
Meanwhile, I’m back to Lulu and Casi. Suddenly they get along better. Imagine that. Neither cat disliked Bidi. But seemingly the inside cats are closer since Bidi left. Bidi is back outside and lurks by my door to await food. We’re all good around here. You can’t win ’em all. Some days you get the bear and some days the bear gets you.
It often find myself looking at the background of the photo.In that case you will see my computer screen. I go to Amazon and read the NY Times. And the article is about mean things said by supporters at Trump’s rallies. Cats are curious and like to get in my business. And I tolerate a lot. How else could you get such a photo op?
No diving again. I was almost there and got the word that the waves were too high. Darn! I headed home. What to do? Ah! Cats. I have lots, too many, pictures. Only a few select can be posted. Picture fatigue. Funny, some folks don’t mind my prose. And then David complained the other day about my not giving him sentences. It was messaging. You don’t use sentences? I’m old. The protocol and communication via email and social media are lost to me. Fine! He was asking if Freeport was worth a visit. He never said that. It’s an outlet center. Shopping. LL Bean. That store is open 24/7. Really! Oops, no sentence again. Drat. Darn. He’s on his bike trip to Nova Scotia. There is no margin to carry extra weight. “Don’t go,” I advised. He messaged back later, “It’s a nice town.” Following advice seems to run in my family.
Anyway, I got a lot of cat pics after I brought Bidi in. It’s suddenly quiet. And then only Lulu and Casi appeared when I made noises to draw out any cat’s curiosity. Bidi was hiding. Ah! She’s got Casi’s old spot. And suddenly Casi and Lulu get along. Imagine that! No, no, no, fish not cats, I’m a fish person. I shoot fish. Repeat and repeat again, I shoot fish. Oh my! Those are pinned back ears. Lulu has been admonished enough that she checks with me before she is about to eat Casi. … no cats were harmed in the making of this photo.
Why can’t I learn? Enough is enough. Back to my regularly scheduled posting. The answer to the answer of the first question is that I like to poke the bear. “Don’t poke the bear.” I have my indoor cats. And then there are outdoor cats. For a while now Bidi has hung around my door. She has been right there when I opened the door. She is under the hedge and waits for me to come home. She’s a regular and eats just like Lulu and Casi. Those two are in A/C comfort.
You can see where this is headed. Yup, I scooped up Bidi and put her down inside the door. Lulu to her credit was not fur flying hissing up a fit. I think she may remember Bidi from when they were outside together. Sniff…Casi was timid but curious.
Both watched Bidi explore and mewl. She was a while getting used to being inside. About an hour, no noise, no yowling, no blood, no fur, gee! Am I glutton? Well, this way it’s easier. And Bidi will eat as she pleases instead of waiting in the heat for me to show up. I’m really doing everyone a favor, right?
You have three kids. Which one is your favorite? Trick question! But there is always a soft spot for your first. And then there is the consideration of who photographs the best. Sometimes graphics triumph. But, I’m not taking sides here….
Eating is sport. Run, dodge the traffic.
The first months I spent in Jeddah were pretty clueless as I look back in retrospect. I had no transportation. So I walked around in the high heat and ducked into any willing A/C place. Traffic is all fast. They swerve to avoid you. It’s so they don’t have to do paperwork. Guys get run over all the time. It’s a video sport too. Hit the dashing pedestrian. The ladies in their abayas are bulletproof. They step off the curb and mosey, just saunter into the street, and the traffic all swerves magically to avoid them. I like to walk with women! The malls all have food courts. And for a long while when I first arrived in Saudi, I ate in them each night. I was not cooking. You had portioned meals, vaguely healthy, and the prices were not too bad. After my first six months I have not really eaten in a mall again. It gets tiring and boring in a hurry. Also, I eat way less salt and sugary drink that way.
Recently I had to walk through this mall. Revisit. Almost four years later, this was a nostalgic trip. Most of the fast food places had closed and been replaced. One or two remained. Same place, some of it same, much of it changed, I was curious but not sad that I no longer get sustenance there. The crepe place is a standard around the world. Nice. I like chocolate and banana. Closed. Gone. Hmmm….wonder where to go?
Eating is sport. Do not underestimate the folks in Jeddah. There are those who know how and where to eat. Churrascaria is Brazilian style. Bring an appetite and expect to eat a lot of meat. It starts with an extensive salad bar. Fill up, but save room. And then there is a disc – red or green side. Red light green light. Go. They bring cuts of meat right from the grill.
The server slices it off and straight onto your plate. Eat till you are full then red light. They grilled pineapple covered in cinnamon sugar for dessert.
This night Faisal was the host. Great guy, wonderful sense of humor, He’s part of the morning exercise group. This night – eat! Keep the grill coming. For some reason it’s like a rite – men, meat, caves. There is a family section. But this is more a gathering of men and appetite – guys night out.
I love the graphics of this wall in a Manhattan restaurant that closed before I ever got a chance to eat there. Open – close, restaurants have a short survival. Some, less than others, close pretty quickly. Ambience is a big factor. So this place is stunning. Midtown Manhattan, great location, plenty of foot traffic, it is a sure fire deal. Nope! Gone in a year. I don’t know why. Bad food. Failed health inspection? Who knows? Another will replace it shortly. But I was very surprised it was shuttered the next time I passed. Of course, I had never personally been in there myself….
In Jeddah restaurants come and go too. Junk food rules. McD forever! A great concept place shuttered – Churros! They were terrific. Good stuff, great confection, fattening, sugary, cinnamon, chocolate dipping sauce – how could it possibly fail? Shuttered.
There are restaurants way overpriced. They don’t last. Two Italian restaurants sat side by side in Jeddah. The pricey one was just gone one day.
Location – if you are in the traffic pattern, lots of people see you and come to visit. My current favorite restaurant is relatively out of the traffic eye and has few customers. I hope they last. But it’s never a good sign when I am usually one of few customers eating and the waiters know you by name.