I’ve done this before. Sad. Everything “tastes like chicken” doesn’t seem so humorous. There were stacks of crates on a truck headed to? Meat or eggs? Either way it’s an awful way to be treated. Point A to Point B, maximize space and profit. Humanitarian treatment doesn’t apply to non-humans? Oh boy! I would almost be a vegetarian. Mostly, you go along happily until it’s in your face. Blissful ignorance. We do that a lot. It’s sad for me to say. Today, I’m thinking about it again.
Summer farmer’s markets beckon and we are helpless to refrain from buying gorgeous produce such as grape tomatoes. Taste! Freshness! It the time of year. How can you go wrong? A few days later and you are left with a lot of tomatoes and nowhere to go. Pasta! Simple – garlic, basil, olive oil. It cooks up fast and tastes great! My photos don’t do the dish justice. It’s gluten free pasta. So, the pasta tends to stick to itself. Hence, it is not easy to blend the ingredients and distribute it evenly into the pasta. Add grated parmesan. You are good to go.
Sometimes less is more. I got this girl as a total grab shot. Too much foreground and too little girl. But it works in a way too. Who goes to the hot market dressed all in black? CIA? NSA? What? Did your mom tell you not to wear that. It’s not flattering. Or maybe you have a warped sense of body image? Sorry! Catty. I just notice things that don’t fit. To me it don’t. but then again that’s my opinion. No, I’m not having a Joan Rivers moment.
We made a trip to Chinatown recently. Chinatown? Well, with more and more I guess it’s fair to say it was New York City. But there are at least three enclaves now. Manhattan! Of course! Is there any other? Yup, San Francisco, Los Angeles…. Live seafood. It’s about live and fresh. I’m not sure there are many places where you walk past tanks of live seafood ready to be cooked to order.
The shops? Exotic? Certainly different. Prices? Whoa! Look closely. Read the labels and … whoa! They would be thousands of dollars per pound! Really? Dried shrimp, a delicacy? And abalone, at hundreds a pound? I can appreciate the price, marvel at the prices, and shake my head that someone values this at so many dollars. Abalone is chewy and not particularly tasty to me. But then don’t ask me. I don’t like wine much either.
Street photography – you don’t aim or compose, you just press the shutter. The idea is to catch spontaneity. It’s mostly because you are afraid or shy to ask to take a picture. Or you are afraid to have an angry objection. And if you are in a foreign place it is wise to be discrete. Auto focus! It works. Aim in the general direction of your subject. Hope for the best. At night I use auto ISO and shutter speed 1/125. Otherwise things will be blurred. They tend to be. So I try to lessen the error.
I had an errand to do in the old city. It’s September and still hot as blazes. The humidity is high. And still, it does not rain. You go out only at night. Daytime is instant meltdown. I live in A/C. My villa has never seen the A/C off in four years. Power outages are very rare. Once it lasted for more than an hour and my friend left to go to a hotel. He did not tolerate heat. Wuss! Well, me too. But for some reason we were on different circuits and my power was on. No, he did not want to stay in my messy villa. As soon as I exited the air conditioned car my camera lens fogged up. I did not realize it. So for a moment, until I checked, everything was fogged. It was an interesting effect. And the shot I could not get… the man in the chair had sweat dripping from the tip of his nose. Sorry. Couldn’t get that. It’s street photography! There are shots I saw that will ever be on my mind. I missed it. But I saw it. If you didn’t get it, you didn’t see it. But I did. Like the eggs. Some days you are in the right place at the right moment. And just a bit later on, you miss. Yes, a drop of sweat, right on the tip of his nose. “Plain as the tip of your nose.” Missed!
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…
Prayer time and everything comes to a halt. The open air market is no exception. The shops close their doors. The outdoor vendors mostly follow suit. Not all, but they mostly do. So I headed for a seat. I had sat out the thirty minute hiatus here a few nights ago. The bench was full. But I’m brave. It’s like the Egyptians at the cornice right? Go for it. I sat next to the two old guys. Hey, I’m old too! And they left after a bit.
And across from me was a photo op. Gee, even sitting down and cooling my heels, I get to take pictures. So while checking on what I had, I also shot images too. The last one was the keeper. And I promptly quit. No waves, please.
A long continuous awning…It’s for the heat of the day. At night they turn on the lights. Women sit on blankets and sell wares. Tiny shops line this alley. During the day you need the shade. At night this is just a throughway.
There’s plenty of action. But as far as traditional stores this is far from organized. But the real reason for the images is that at night the lighting is conducive to get a decent exposure. During the day shade is deep and lighting is poor.
The art of street photography is interesting. Your camera is taking photos as you walk. You are not composing the shot. What you get is what you get. There are lots of duds. The setting is wide angle and on automatic. And at night the exposure is more challenging. But digital is so forgiving. So, just point and shoot in the general direction of your subject. I’m pretty good. There is not much cropping for me anymore. Apples are the sort of photo that Jules would like. There is plenty of action. It’s mundane. You don’t need much more to convey the frenzy of the market transactions.
The meat is sold without being under plastic Styrofoam. It is cut to order and chopped or prepped on the spot. That part was pretty fascinating. These guys have pretty good knife skills. And, their knives are sharp. I’m watching my head!
Okay the first guy I have puzzled out to be a knife sharpener. The second guy is carrying lanterns or mini fire hydrants. Okay probably not hydrants but that is my guess till someone corrects me. It was the old city and I assume they were on the way to do a demonstration. Sorry they got by me and I did not get ahead to catch a better shot.
I am in the old city and around a corner there are camels being led. Two camels stopped at a barrier and a crowd coalesced immediately. The kids started taking pictures. Smart phones were clicking away. For me, I don’t see camels very often. I guess this crowd doesn’t see many camels either.
The tent is actually a cover. A man was hidden riding with his identity concealed. The two camels marched up and out of sight along a narrow alley. I got distracted by some other subjects headed my way.
Really? I have seen some strange sights. However, the carts in the background explain. These guys are delivery guys. They will cart loads around earning money from customers and shopkeepers as they go. Quiet time is naptime; all is well. It’s just an odd place to nap.
It was the heat of the day. Well, for this particular day it was rather balmy. People were taking a load off. Notice the lack of shoes. And the guy is resting his feet on cardboard. You may also note that this abaya shop is among few shops open at this hour. Everyone does their serious shopping well after dark.
Fractured English. I see it all the time. There was a store named Gout. Let’s assume the owners are selling cosmetics and have a sense of beauty. I suppose I should corner a friend and ask for the Arabic translation.
I wandered around the old city and was discretely snapping pictures as I went. And, every once in a while someone will ask me to take their picture. Really! This was a variation. Another guy saw me with my big shiny Nikon and beckoned me to snap off a shot. So I did. I realize that I was nervous and might have moved in for a closer shot. He’s selling carry bags and I wanted to include them. His friend was having a great time encouraging me. And my new friend was quite tolerant.
The woman in the foreground is selling cactus fruit. She has peeled it and sells it in plastic bags. I tried some from the market. It is not too tasty. They remind me of mini- pineapples but they are not. The date shop has many dates and of different quality. You can see the color differences. I am not savvy enough to tell one date from another. The only opinion I have about dates – “guys are just happy if their date shows up.”
Guys hang out in Al Balad to do delivery work. So they will take things from point A to B. Business was slow so this guy ad his daughter along for a ride. I guess in between she walks.
They see you coming and are immediately suspicious. And going not so much attention is paid. Either way the shutter is barely heard in the street noise. Just don’t point it in any obvious way. Wide angle works rather nicely. Why do they process, bundle, and pile the sticks? It is for chewing I have been told. Yes, that’s a lot of sticks to chew. You chew and fast. It helps pass the time.
I like getting close ups of colorful patterns like these prayer rugs. They seem to be mass produced and probably not too expensive. The rugs serve as picnic blankets. And I have seen them under the sea as discarded pollution on the coral reef. On Another note it is April fool’s day and Lisa’s birthday. Happy. I kid you not.
I like the fish calendar. Most people have a mask on their face. I assume the food police insist upon it. No one actually wears it. It’s kind of like seat belts. They are optional till the police give you a ticket. Well in conclusion of my fish market tour, I did see lots of lobster, which I have not seen alive in the Red Sea. There were lots of other fish not seen by me during my dives. It seems that the lack of color indicates that the tasty fish are rather drab. I’d like to know where they net shrimp in such large numbers. And in a random sampling, it appears that squid and octopus are not in demand nor available.
Only a few stalls at the fish market had shark. I guess it is some sort of specialty fish. They were small. Who knows where they were caught or how? Oh, and there were small tuna here and there too. Don’t ask me…” it tastes like chicken” – my stock answer.
There was this one, though, that I have not seen – white spotted guitar fish?
The other section of the fish market is for cleaning your purchase. Lines and rows of men are dressed in aprons and rubber boots waiting to gut and fillet your purchases. It is indeed messy. Women sit on benches outside. Men inside congregate and watch their fish being cleaned and dressed. And then there were women collecting the fish heads for stock.
Stationed only a few feet apart these men clean fish efficiently.
So it is too cold to dive. The water temp is just uncomfortable. Why dive cold when you can wait for better temperatures? Well the wildlife is dead. I admit there are fish I don’t see when I dive. And where did they catch all those shrimp. I am lucky to see two together hiding under a coral. Does the cry, “Here fishy fishy…” really work?
Meanwhile there are a lot of choices. Each booth has a limited selection. Who caught these fish? And why doesn’t everyone buy their fish fresh here?