The end of my evening was the start for someone else. I chanced to pass this very active social night scene. My first pass was a failure. The camera had reset itself and the exposure was blurred. It was interesting. But I considered it a failure. In a rare moment for me I turned around and made a second pass. I was not quite as invisible but did get a better shot.
No women! The men were talking and drinking coffee and playing dominoes. Night life! No alcohol. No women. Oh boy! Well, a sports bar it ain’t. And the waiters are not dressed like Hooter girls either.
I have virtually no inside shots. I’m not willing to set foot inside. This mosque in the old city was renovated in the past several years. Mostly things are in construction forever. To my surprise it was finished and I could peer inside. I do. And on this night I was able to see people. Even better. The crowd in the area made me feel safe enough. But you need to be aware that street lighting was not a priority in the old city. I have never felt unsafe. But one more word to the wise. Beware.
Yes, he’s a friendly guy too. He went out of his way to show me that he works on teeth and makes replacements. False teeth! Gold and other materials. And the tools of the trade over his shoulder. I could not ask about anesthesia. It was a nice encounter that made shudder nonetheless. His own teeth are not the best, and don’t enlarge this image if you are squeamish.
The circuit around the old city gets crowded. So the powers that be cordon off the street into a single path. You walk in one direction. You can bail out but you may not walk against traffic. This is really pretty funny since cars are going the wrong way on one way streets all the time. But here, everyone walks in the same direction. And they enforce it! So the first time around I got a shot. And the second time too, because I was not sure the first worked. You don’t want to be too obvious and check. And you cannot go back unless you go around again. Well, I did.
Then there are encounters in which you are invited to take photos. Do so. Just don’t make a big deal over it. Therefore, no flash please. I was in the old city – Balad – and it was heritage time. The area is lit and has been renovated and people are invited to see old Arabic life before cell phones. This group was having a loud animated conversation. Hey, it’s why I went over. It looked like a fight. But they were just having a friendly loud discussion and the intent was to draw attention to themselves. The guy in the middle has an old iron, you know, the kind they heat – no electricity. It was animated and made for a good photo op. You settle for less than ideal exposure. And no, a movie would not have added anything. The acting wasn’t that good.
What did I just say a day ago? There are concrete benches along the corniche. About six foot in length I do what everyone does, I sit in the middle and basically transmit body language, go away, this is my turf. Three Egyptian guys eyed me. Then they sat on either side with the third guy standing to my left. They proceeded to have a conversation around me talking right to left and left to right passing their phone back and forth. I was virtually engaged unwillingly. Anyone else might have risen but I was in my own phone messaging in a conversation 6000 miles away to home. I was oblivious to the Arabic conversation and they could not read my texts. They bought seeds from a vendor and proceeded to munch. Eventually, one guy offered me some seeds. I declined. And then, they asked where I was from. This led to the guy on my left pulling his phone and asking me to listen to a recorded phone call from Canada. He had been contacted about immigrating to Canada. He spoke no English and wanted me to tell him what it meant. Well, this bordered on the absurd since I speak little Arabic. He showed me an internet ad promising immigration for $70 – scam! I was able to shake my head and warn them. Who, I mean really, who, records their phone conversations. You get a call. It doesn’t say, “We are the Canadian embassy.” But you record it? Anyway the three guys were done siting. They left but not before one asked me to take his picture. Ok. Done. What am I supposed to do with the picture? The other two declined to join. Odd. I realize I don’t understand the culture. But this was odd in almost any way I look at it. I’m sitting in the middle of the bench. I’m from New York. Back off! This is my space. Yeah, it was pretty funny.
I confess I’m too shy to stop and ask to take a picture. There are those who say the spontaneous moment is lost as soon as someone poses. I’m shy. So just point and shoot. Remember, shutter 1/100. Wide angle setting and the autofocus will save you, mostly. You end up with lots of duds. And then there are interesting keepers. Here and there you take a little time to compose. Not much time, remember, I’m shy and I don’t want a confrontation. Interestingly I stand out as a foreigner. And I am ignored. I walk invisibly and observe a foreign culture and am largely ignored. Nighttime is when the market is hopping. Smartphones are pretty much everywhere.
Wallet? I think that my wallets are all from street vendors – under $10 – my price.
As to legality, you are legally an unwilling target whenever you are in public. However, you do not want to be confrontational. The caveat, don’t be noticed, and don’t invite controversy.
The cornice is very popular. It’s a strip of sea front park that has been renovated and made people friendly with grass and walkways. I was surprised that it was pretty empty on a weekend afternoon. The place in the background is a royal construction and the tower behind it is said to be for six star guests of the kingdom. I was told that it means that mortals are not welcome. There is a lot of foot traffic in the park, so much so that there is virtually no grass, hence the brown dirt surface.
And there are rugs laid out in different spots. And periodically people gather to pray. They are aiming east. But, it looks so incongruous. People march about. Men pray.
Women may not be near. They stay to themselves. And everyone looks to me to be praying to the god of traffic parking spots.
Concrete or dirt? It’s like the question paper or plastic in the grocery. In Jeddah it is all plastic (bags). But where to sit? Concrete or dirt. …or a little of each?
Hoverboard is a term and phenomenon that exploded into my consciousness recently. It was a mythical device shown in the movie Back to the Future. Kids are now on it all over the place. Where have I been? Under a rock, obviously…. And they are dangerous, lots of orthopedic fractures have resulted. There’s video where they explode – unintended of course. But, I digress. I’m catching the sunset at the cornice and there are two guys (yeah, large kids ride these things sometimes) in my frame complete with sunset afterglow and the world’s tallest fountain. Yes, an interesting commentary starts. Old vs new, make way for the modern. Two cultures are clashing, each oblivious to the other. Smart phone in hand, it’s another way of showing that you are cool and ignore the world around you. Sunsets are a dime a dozen. The guys are looking in different directions. The old and the new, someday oil will be exhausted and then what? Yeah, then what? Meanwhile, kids are short because the fall to the ground off a hoverboard is less. I guess I’m too old for this. Or, it’s a long way to fall…
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.