OK. So. I bought a fab rainjacket off ebay. Awesome price, brand new, shipped well. But a design flaw – the buttons were sewn on with inferior thread, and as they’re quite unusual buttons, they would need to be reinforced prior to wearing it.
Part of that reinforcement includes sewing a clear button on the backside of the jacket to keep the threads from “pulling through” the entire jacket. No biggie, pick up a package of them at any WalMart or Kmart, right? In the sewing notions section.
There are no WalMart or Kmart stores here. So, off to the Riffa souq for me, surely at my favorite “trimmings” store, they’ll have them. I took a few as an example, because language is a funny thing.
I stopped at my usual first stop, a store advertising itself to be a “stationery” store. Al Manar. They have everything there. Except clear buttons.
OK, no worries, to my favoirte trimmings store next door…. showed him the examples, and he shook his head no, but said “Tandahar. Two buildings down, same side” as he led me out the door and pointed.
As I stepped out on the sidewalk, there was a woman with her young son, doing shopping herself on this fine day. I paused to let them pass as the sidewalk was quite narrow at this point. She looked at me and smiled. (I think, she was covered with the hijab, niqab and the abaya and gloves. Pretty much I could only see her eyes.)
Crinkly corners of your eyes means you’re likely smiling. She asked me “What shop are you looking for?” I told her Tandahar and she said “I will walk you there” – now, where else in the world would this happen? No place I can think of. She was being very kind and friendly to a complete stranger – a western stranger at that. I was grateful for the company and her kindness.
Her son was going on the curb, then off the curb, then on the curb, and finally she’d had enough. She spoke to him a bit sternly in arabic, and glanced at me. I smiled at her and said “Stay on the sidewalk before you get run over” sounds exactly the same in any language”…. she laughed and said “exactly!”. We parted ways as my store was beside us.
This store didn’t have the buttons either, but the shopkeeper said “I know a man….follow me.” which has become my favorite phrase here in Bahrain. I followed him across the very busy street and down a side street to a tiny tiny shop that I wouldn’t have noticed as a trimmings shop.
Success! After five shops and one random encounter, I found just what I was looking for. But that’s one of the things I love about this tiny desert island kingdom….. random encounters and the amazing spirit of the people that live here.