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Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Farewell to the Khan

Last Saturday we paid our last (hopefully) visit to the famed Khan-al-Khalili.  I find it silly that, after two years of lusting after various housewares and handicrafts, we've waited until the last few months to buy them - just in time to be packed up for six months.

Saturday was the day of finishing up those odds and ends of major purchases.  We had a fabric kilim that we had ordered before the revolution (a week or two before) and not picked up yet.  My aunt requested some jewelry to be made up.  And Brandon and I set out to buy that elusive mashrabiya screen - for the last time.

Brandon requested to start in the morning, so after breakfast and showers we headed out into the already-burning heat.  Kathleen and Sophia frog-marched alongside Brandon and I as we headed for Road 9 (the local shopping street) while Edwin relaxed and sweated while being strapped to Brandon's back.

We got to Road 9, only to find the furniture shop we went visit closed, it being the early hour of 10:45.  Not wanting to leave, we kept on going to McDonald's to get something cold.  We were told that of course they didn't have ice cream at this hour as it was still breakfast time.  So instead we had orange juice.  Kathleen didn't want any, Sophia didn't like the taste, and Edwin spilled a full cup on the floor.  After Brandon mopped up the spill, the children played in the playground for a few minutes before we headed back to the furniture shop.

We surveyed the goods, took note of the prices, and then hopped in a taxi for the long, hot, crowded ride to the Khan.  Our stop was another furniture shop which had a promising screen and mirror.  The screen wasn't finished, but the keeper claimed he could have it finished in a week - the day before pack-out.  We told him we'd think about it and headed to the bead shop.

At the bead shop, we gave a solemn warning to the girls that if they touched a single thing we would cut off their fingers.  While I was picking out stones for earrings and a pendant, Kathleen told me that she would like to be an adult.  Distractedly, I asked her why.  "Because," she told me, "if I was an adult, I would get to touch whatever I wanted."  Thankfully, everyone obeyed, however, and everyone retained their fingers.

The helpful man at the shop then took us to his friend the jeweler who kept his workshop up three or four steep and bizarrely twisted staircases (you have never known the meaning of warren until you've been up into the backways of the Khan).  The friend was very happy to set the stones in whatever setting we liked and handed us a jewelry catalog to pick one out.  While the jeweler handed dates around to the children, I picked out a setting, agreed on a price, and set up a time to pick it up this week.

Back down the staircases we went, and down the street to the furniture shop with Sophia walking more and more slowly while Edwin melted to Brandon's back in the 100+ heat.  At the furniture shop we decided on the mirror, not wanting to chance having the screen not finished in time.  After the requisite talk we agreed on a price, and then had to head out again for an ATM for a deposit, having already handed the cash on hand to the jeweler for his deposit.

And then, to the relief of the girls, we finally went home.  On the way to finding a taxi, Sophia tiredly proclaimed, "Next time we go to the Khan, I'm riding on Daddy's back and Edwin can walk."  Don't worry Sophia, there won't be a next time.

1 comment:

PaulaJean said...

It is a lovely mirror. And the Khan does define 'warren.' I'm impressed that you remember how to find shops there. It was all a jumble to me.