Monday, December 01, 2008

Buying beads from the Taliban

On Saturday I got together for a coffee with a friend from knitting group. We sat in the rocking chairs outside the Coffee Beanery at Cholesterol Corner (a.k.a. Ramada Signal) and knitted socks for a while. The weather was just right for outdoor knitting – not too hot and not too cold, although there were rather a lot of flies. We knitted until the sun started to go down, then we went to the Taliban Store.

The Taliban Store sells buttons, beads, fabrics, threads, ribbons, edgings and anything else you can think of connected with tailoring. From the outside it’s just a normal Doha shop front with faded samples, dead flies and a leaky air conditioner in the window. Inside it’s like Ali Baba’s cave for crafters. It’s dark and stuffy and so crammed with goods you have to flatten yourself against the wall if someone wants to come by. There are reels of ribbon hanging from the ceiling with the ends dangling like vines. They catch on your clothes so you walk around the shop trailing ribbon. There is a room whose walls are lined with spool after spool of sewing thread in every colour imaginable. There is a wall of buttons that look like sweets in an old-fashioned sweet-shop. We rummaged around for ages. I had set myself the challenge of buying the beads I need for my next project (the Matryoshka Stole from Knitscene) in Doha, instead of using the internet, even if it meant using plastic ones. But I managed to find exactly what I needed in real wood which was great. Natural materials are quite hard to find here.

On the way back to the car we passed a laundry where a man was sitting cross-legged in the window operating a steam press. A pipe directed the steam out onto the street, carrying with it the smell of freshly-laundered cotton. It was refreshing after the somewhat fuggy atmosphere in the Taliban Store.

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