Friday, November 23, 2007

pictures at last of my holiday in Damascus

On our first day in Damascus, we staggered off to the souk and the grand Mosque to find a guide for the duration. Walking through the souk was wonderful - busy, with real people going about their everyday shopping, not just tourists like us. This window was on the first floor, and as soon as they saw me take a photo, they sent a runner to take us through some dingy doorway you would never have found on your own, and up the stairs to the shop, which was tiny and absolutely packed with textiles - clothing and hangings and cloths and runners, and jewellery and knick knacks. it was lovely, but very expensive, apparently the fault of the Italians who have a habit of paying what they ask instead of haggling. No offence intended, just reporting it.

At the end of the main drag through the souk - there are lots of side streets so you could wander round in there for weeks! - you go through this archway into a square. The arch is Roman, and part of the original temple. As you can see, there is very much a waste not want not feeling here, one perfectly good arch, why knock it down?!!

These next four pictures are inside the courtyard of the grand mosque, showing some of the roman mosaics, and the little kiosks. I say little, but you can tell by the people the scale of the place is not on the little side of things!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

2nd KTAA meeting

We had a truly wonderful evening on October 23rd. The theme was an invitation to an Indian wedding, and we had a traditional dancer, music, food,stunning costumes, jewellery and shoes, incense, henna painting, bangle making, shawls and the most brilliant mandap, which is the support and canopy which they perform the wedding ceremony under, and over 130 people came along to join in the fun - some dressed in Indian costume. I have been waiting to see if I can get hold of some pictures, as I was so busy I did not have time to take any myself, but so far none have come through, so I will post this and then add pictures when I get some.

I don't know about most of you, but India in general, and Indian weddings in particular, is something I actually know very little about. I mean, I know where it is, but know very little about the geography of the country, where all these regions that we hear about are in relation to each other and on the map. So I found this a real eye opener on a lot of levels. The rituals vary from region to region, caste to caste, religion to religion. There are the beautiful saris that we all know, and the shalwar kameez, and then there is the ghagra choli and ghagra lehenga sharara, another whole range of tops and skirts with veils or shawls, heavily embroidered and beaded which is the direction the wedding outfits are taking. We pulled a lady from the audience and showed everyone how to put a sari on properly. I had several Indian ladies in the audience from different regions, so they were put on the spot and asked to fill in details which I had not been able to find.
They have pre wedding ceremonies, wedding ceremonies - incidentally it is becoming more common to have the party first and then the actual binding ceremony, and also post wedding ceremonies.
A store here called the Indian Heritage Centre provided everything for for the evening for us, except the dancer (who is 14 years old, has been learning the dances for 8 years, and has been taught at the Nritta Dhyana school of Indian Classical dance here in kuwait.) They did a cracking job, and have won another tranche of customers from the KTAA. They even provided raffle prizes and, in something of a coup, discount cards for all KTAA members. All in all, a truly wonderful evening.