On our first trip to the Old Souk, Mark and I were dropped off in front of a Mosque and a plaza with benches and a small playground. We didn’t have a clue where we were or where we needed to go. To the right of the Mosque were two large roof structures covering what used to be streets. There were tables and, as we headed that way and got closer, we could see small schwarma restaurants serving people at the tables. The smells were unbelievable, as you can imagine. We threaded our way through the tables and resisted the urge to sit down right there and eat something.
Past the tables was the entrance to the Meat and Vegetable Souk and I immdiately knew we had come to the perfect place for local color and experiences. Our cab driver was trying to tell us we didn’t want to come here, “only Arabs go there.” Well, that is the point. What better way to see a place than go where the locals go? I have previously written about the Meat and Vegetable Souk, so won’t repeat myself.
We walked down the long covered street, on one side were vegetable vendors, on the other, small dry goods shops selling everything from dates to olives to spices. The merchants would invite us to check out their wares as we passed by.
Towards the end, there was a date vendor who grabbed a couple of dates and offered us a taste. I will say, they were excellent. We really had no intention of buying anything, I loved the dates, but didn’t know what I would do with a half kilo or a kilo of them. In situations like this, I usually thank the vendor and walk away, it keeps me from having to extract myself from a conversation with a pressure salesman.
Mark is more talkative than I am, so he told the guy we’d be back later. The vendor kept trying to sell him some dates and Mark kept saying he would get some later. Eventually, the vendor realized he wasn’t getting a sale and, with a very contemptuous look, shooed us away with the back of his hand. Mark and I knew we had been summarily dismissed and we laughed about it.
We went back to the Old Souk the next day and Mark decided to buy some dates. We went back to the same vendor and he was happy (and surprised) to see us. He handed us each a sample and Mark bought a half a kilo. Now, we were best of friends with the vendor. We’ve been back to him a few more times and his face lights up with a smile and handshakes all around. And he gets repeat sales. Mark isn’t making this guy rich with half-kilo purchases, but this vendor has a steady customer from us as long as we are in Kuwait City.