What are they worried about, someone man-handling my melons or pinching my peaches?
My husband, the Dork of the Desert (DD), hasn’t a clue how to pick out what I need. The result- him walking back and forth a couple of times to and from the car when I don’t approve of his choices or need to remind him of items he’s forgotten. There are some old women there, some foreigners, but even my husband is a bit uneasy with me being there in the car.
I know a household of women, real do-it-yourselfers, who go fruit shopping anyway. The father died not long before I met them and their only brother was living overseas. Their solution: the oldest daughter (in her ‘30’s) put on her old lady abaya (styles differ between the generations) and went and did whatever she needed to, including the fruit market.
The Thursday market is another no-go zone for the estrogen-endowed. One man told me he wouldn’t even take his infant daughter to the bird market there, it’s such a shame. Once again, the few women there are Bedouin or Shia, and only some of the oldest Sunni women. My mothers in law’s requests for transport to the Thursday market are met with all her 5 sons refusing to take her. I’ve convinced my husband to take me on a few occasions but only descended from the car once, after he took a good look around to see who’s watching.
Another strange place that I can’t go is the Islamic shop where there are various books, cassettes, and religious paraphernalia for sale. This one I couldn’t fathom why. I wanted to buy some Islamic nasheed (a cappella songs without musical instruments) tapes for myself and my children. Once again, I can’t go in because “it’s just not done”. DD has to go in and communicate with me walkie- talkie style on our mobiles for my approval as I sat in the car outside.
There isn’t a law forbidding us to go any of these places, as I’ve mentioned there are some women there. Unfortunately, our men don’t want other men seeing them take their women to these places. I have a feeling that with the influx of Qataris this will soon change, if it hasn’t started already- I haven’t gone for quite awhile. Unaware that fruit shopping is a shame, Qatari women, who are similar to us in appearance, will freely peruse the markets. I hope the Saudi fruit sellers can endure the sight of these women all fondling their fruits and caressing their cucumbers.