Travels Through the Souk in Suliamaniya, Iraq
-Patrick S Lasswell
If you've never been through a real middle-eastern market before, you've missed a wonder. Especially for those of us accustomed to shopping in strict rectilinear grids laid out according to the results of exhaustive market research. To add strangeness to the western mind, similar vendors are set alongside each other in Kurdistan, so competitors see each other. We normally avoid putting two grocers side by side, but here you have six or twelve all calling out for your business. Loudly.
Over time, different shops encroach into the sub-markets so you will sometimes have fabric stores next to grocers or houseware shops in a goldsmith area. It is all marvelously confusing and fascinating in ways that local Saturday and Farmer's Markets wish they could be.
Malls are encroaching on this way of life and soon these markets will be extinct. Our troops in Iraq rarely get to see and never get to wander carelessly through them. Come with me, get jostled by the crowd, surprised by unseen steps, and be amazed by the simultaneously chaotic and orderly splendor of it all. You'd hardly know there is a war on only one hour away.
Plus: Play Spot the Totten!