Thursday afternoon. I finish work and the weekend starts. Here we rest on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is a working day and Friday is the holy day. Almost nobody works (some do it on Saturdays). But Friday is something like our Lord’s Day. In the morning, shops and establishments remain closed. Men go to the masjids and the call to prayer is different from the rest of the week.
In the afternoon everyone smartens up and goes out. Molls and restaurants are mottled with people. The main entertainment in this city is going out for lunch or dinner. There are many places to enjoy the local and international gastronomy. Actually, they use to be cheaper than in Europe.
Anyway, it’s Thursday afternoon. Or rather, at night, then at six-thirty and the sun has set, even though it’s June. Yes, the sun rises at four o’clock. We worked the whole week and I feel tired, but I need to write. My book follows up and it asks me treats. So, instead of driving home, I go to this Souk, my favorite place in Doha.
Following my routine, I take a walk and then look for a terrace to sit and enjoy a delicious lemon-mint and a shisha to smoke. My mother is concerned that, despite having a very smooth snuff, I can end up being addicted to nicotine. I tell her that I only ask for a juice, but she does not believe me. Many Westerners do not like this water pipe, so characteristic of the Arab world, but I love it. It is part of a ritual. A social ritual, because we carry out with friends and, on Thursday night, I enjoy it with my own company. Since coming here I have regained ground and have fun myself. Not only at home –where I knew to do it-but outside, in public spaces.
Here the atmosphere is fantastic. Although it is hot, there is a breeze that caresses your skin. People are walking. Qatari, Western, non-Qatari Arab and Asian Oriental people. Their movement defines the landscape, this public space as distinctive and genuine.
In the neighboring tables are almost all conversations in Arabic. Also there are some in English. And in other languages.
I feel comfortable.
If I look up from my notebook, Qatari architecture with which this souk was reconstructed gives me delicious images. And, at the end the skyline of Al Fanar. A beacon for the faithful and it serves as a meeting point for supporters of Islam, even If they are not Muslim. They offer workshops, Arabic classes and other free activities.
You hear a constant buzz of people going. And shisha scent pervades the atmosphere. This space is a treat for all the senses.
Suddenly I notice that someone stands next to my table. I raise my head and two mates of the office have come to greet me. They are a pleasant surprise and a nice company to continue this evening. They take seat and I still enjoy the place, conversation and friends.
This is Souq Waqif and that’s how I live it. What spaces do make you feel comfortable? Where can you enjoy both your own company and with more people? What places, public or private ones, closed or opened, stimulate all your senses?