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Published: February 22nd 2022
Small shops in an outdoor intimate mall
This morning, I went to the Western and (relatively) touristy shopping malls on Jumeirah Beach
Road. There seemed to be a preponderance of UAE shoppers; all the goods were either Western or pitched at tourists. Nevertheless, Peggy said that Magrudy’s Bookstore
in the Magrudy Mall is the best in Dubai (at least in English). MagGrudy Mall is an “outdoor mall”, more like a market of stores in an approximate square. The selection was extensive, with an excellent travel section and quite a few local history and travel/picture books. The latter are expensive, however, and the pictures are very commercial, i.e., stylized and not reminiscent of what I’ve seen. I did buy a book, set in Al Ain
, one of the UAE cities. (Peggy remarked that it’s not that good.) I also bought an excellent road map of the Middle East that covers a lot of countries and has a good amount of detail.
Jumeirah Centre, the next mall had a fair selection of Western stores, such as the Body Shop and Godiva chocolate. It also had an “Arts and Crafts” store that had beautiful embroidered cushion covers (Peggy thinks they may be Iranian), enamelled papier mâché boxes, plus rugs
La Brioche Cafe
Known by some as Shamsa's Cafe
and furniture. I bought some souvenirs and gifts.
Upstairs there was a cliché of a jewellery shop with a truly ancient French/Lebanese (?) owner with dyed black hair, who put on me the chokers I happened to be looking at. She claimed these low-priced items were for children, elaborately explaining that some people needed such gifts to take back. The prices of most of her items were breathtaking – mostly well over a few hundred dollars!
I had lunch at a café recommended by Peggy, actually called “La Brioche
”, dubbed by Peggy and John as “Shamsa’s café” in honour of Peggy’s colleague who recommended it. The meals were a bit high-priced and elaborate for lunch. I settled for a hamburger, which was an approximation. The salad vegetables were as always beautifully fresh. The meat patty was tasty, as was the bun, but the whole didn’t make the taste of a hamburger. It did fill me up well.
On to the third mall in the row, this one called “L’Habitat. As it was now around 1:00, they were gradually shutting down. However, in the large atrium, there was a great display entitled “To Mother with Love”, featuring busts
"Mother of the Land"
Her small veil is made of decorated metal.
of famous women. One was a representational woman, “Mother of the Nation”; she was wearing the burqa traditional in this area, in which the niqab or “veil” is metal and resembles a very large moustache. You cannot photograph veiled women, so this statue was the only way I could record this tradition. (Peggy confirmed that only the most traditional women wear this, although some younger women do wear full veils.) In the rest of the display, it was interesting to see which women were picked for the honour of a bust. On the second floor were drawings of more women, presumably less exalted. I did also look around a few antique/import stores.
Before leaving the area (everything depends on taxis – quite cheap), I walked back past McGrudy’s to Spinneys, the grocery store. After my foray into the Lulu Centre, Spinneys looked less exotic than it did on my first day. Regardless, I bought some rambutans for John and Peggy to try and to feed my memories of Asia. I also bought some water, because with walking around so much I don’t get enough.
Then it was out to get a taxi, weighed down by purchases. Taxis are
plentiful. They beep a little pop on their horn to solicit business. Quite cheerful and not intrusive.
In the morning, as I have done before, I strolled out to change money at a nearby exchange. Every time I’ve cashed travellers' cheques, the process has been slightly different. This time I cashed more money than usual to reduce the frequency of visits.
Afterwards, I took a little walk. Today I went south and discovered that there are blocks and blocks of stores filled with inexpensive goods. As time went on, more and more people converged on these stores to shop, wander, chat, look at items, and entertain themselves. In the afternoon, we drove to the Sharjah Desert Park and the Sharjah Natural History Museum. Although I didn’t make any notes at the time, the visit has stayed with me. Since being outside is too hot, dioramas were the best way to convey the extraordinary landscapes and seascapes of the emirate. Nevertheless, a fascinating garden of desert plants reminded me of how life thrives in seemingly desolate terrain.
In the evening Peggy’s friend, Bonnie, came over for dinner. John ordered the dinner, to be
Wildlife Centre near Sharjah
Co-located with the Desert Park
delivered at 8:00 from the Indian restaurant next to the money exchange. It was delicious and varied – many dishes of north Indian variety. I had never had the thick bread – about ½ inch thick, bubbled like a pancake, and fried. Also delicious were the lamb sausages - spiced ground lamb pressed onto a stick, grilled and then released. View Map, including Desert Park, now called Arabia's Wildlife Centre.
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