Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Khartoum Dust and Riverside Fruit Sellers

There was a thick layer of dust on everything in my bedroom

On Sunday my husband and his technician managed to get parts for the airconditioner in our bedroom (it had broken down!) and repaired it. However, when they turned it on, half of the desert blew into the bedroom, whirled around and settled on everything. I mean everything.

My least favourite household appliance: the humble vacuum cleaner!

Hubby came indoors to tell me what had happened and nonchalantly suggested I vaccum the room. He reckoned it was a "bit dusty".

Now those readers who know me well, will know that I do not like housework. In fact I have a total aversion to housework. You can read a little about this here. Don't get me wrong; I've had my share of housework in my life. Since I can remember my mum set my sister and me to doing the chores in the house. When I reached my teens, my mum worked outside the home and my sister and I took on the responsibility of running the house. When I married, it was second nature for me to "do the housework". Until eight years ago when Emily came to my door and asked me for work, I used to do all my own housework. (Here in Khartoum I have a lady who comes in twice a week, but Sunday isn't one of those days!)

Back to the problem of Khartoum dust in my bedroom. I unearthed the vacuum cleaner from behind a cupboard in the spare room and dragged it (none-too-gently!) to the bedroom. When I saw the damage, I was horrified. It was far worse than hubby had made out but I set to vacuuming the floor, the bed, the curtains. When I got to the dressing table, I suddenly thought I should photograph this. I fetched my camera but as I'd already cleaned up the worst grit and dust, the [top] photo doesn't do the situation justice.

When I'd finished my husband offered to take me to the fruit and vegetable stalls along the Nile river. He could see I needed a diversion! I'd asked him previously if we could go there, but we never seemed to take that route to or from the city. He parked the ute on the side of the busy street and cautioned me to watch the traffic as I crossed over. This is not a problem though, because women seem to have the right of way when crossing a street. I have watched them from my flat balcony: a women would step into the street, hold up a hand (almost limply) and the traffic stops and allows her to pass. On Sunday as I stepped into the street, I held up a limp hand to the oncoming traffic. I was thrilled when the driver of a Mercedes stopped and a whole line of cars stopped behind him. By now I was in the middle of the street, held up my other hand and viola! The first car came to a gentle stop (no screeching brakes, no horns blowing) and the cars behind it stopped as well.

The proud stall owner poses in front of his beautiful vegetable display
At the stalls on which the produce is beautifully displayed, I began to make my choice. The sellers always want you to take "kilos" of any one type of fruit/vegetables. The more I insist I don't need more than I ask for, the more they try to press huge quantities on me. Firstly I pointed to the potatoes and held up four fingers. The seller place four potatoes in the carry bag. Next, I pointed to the onions (they sell them in bunches: large spring onions) I held up one finger. And so I went with my order. When I was finished, I asked how much and he said something in Arabic. (He kept saying to me: "no English") Then he held his fingers and showed me what I owed him. I said, "la-la" / no-no (conveying that it is too expensive) and began to remove the potatoes. He immediately showed me to leave the potatoes in the bag and added six more. Then he picked up another bunch of onions, showed it to me and placed it in the bag. So he went until he had doubled the amount in the bag. I had to give 10/10 for public relations skills! I paid with a smile and then asked if I could take photos of him in front of his stall.
What a lovely refreshing outing after having to vacuum my bedroom.
For more worlds click here
To everyone who commented on yesterday's announcement of our new baby grandson, thank you for your congratulations. Bless you all for the lovely comments. He is indeed a beautiful baby. (I know, I know: I'm the grandmother and I'm biaised!)


  1. Your husband was smart to offer a trip to the market after the dust ordeal!
    The bargaining sounds interesting and kind of fun.

  2. Yes, I agree with Janie! And the bargaining does sound interesting and fun! Congratulations on your new grandson, Jo! That's wonderful! Love your photos of the market! What a lovely display! Have a great week!


  3. oh, we have the same problem--dust and the aversion to housework.:p there are condos being constructed behind my apartment building and all the dust seems to be inside my apartment. now i have a bad sore throat after cleaning up.:( looks like my windows will stay close for a while.

  4. The stand at the market was beautiful. As I sit here surrounded by snow, I can't tell you how anxious I am to have warmer weather and our own garden.

    You must be very anxious to see your new grandson.

  5. Very smart, Janie (lol!) I am learning to bargain, only a week ago I paid the price and when I returned to the ute, hubby said, they're conning you! Learnt my lesson.

    Hi Sylvia, it is fun. Thanks for your kind congratulations. My son keeps the photos coming in and already the little one is changing. Have a wonderful week. Jo

    lunda miranda;) Wow, building dust and noise seems to go on forever when it's near you. Thanks for your visit.

    Hi Lori, even with snowy conditions, your farm looked beautiful on your post today.

  6. Hi Jo. Thanks for sharing your market fun. I really hate it when the season changes and its time for those endless dusts. Good thing that you're not allergic to dust, if it's me..whoa! for sure am blowing my nose to death and sneeze like hell.

    Try to use this phrase when you go to the market;

    Kham hada? ( how much is this?)

    for the numbers:

    wahid: one
    ith-nain : two
    thalata: three
    arba'a : four
    khamsa: five
    sitaah: six
    saba'ah: seven
    thaman'ya: eight
    tisa'a : nine
    asharah: ten
    edash: eleven
    ithnash: twelve
    Thalatash: 13
    arbatash: 14
    khamsatash: 15
    sitash: 16
    sabatash: 17
    thamantash: 18
    tisatash: 19
    eshreen: 20

    If they are using the old arabic for counting the numbers, instead of saying edash, you can say, edashar..ithanashar...thalatashar...and so on. Just add the shar. You can use it up to 19. Eshreen remains the same even in old arabic.

    Best regards to your hubby and congratulations on your new grandson!


  7. I don't envy you with all that dust to clean up, Jo .... but your trip to the fruit/veg market was lovely - love the proud stall owner, too !

  8. The trip to the fruit seller was a good idea, and what a great display of fruit and veg he had and his selling tactics are good, he will make his fortune! But you really should learn to bargain, learn enough language to do so and you will save a lot.
    The wee grand child in next post is very sweet.

  9. Hi Misalyn;) sorry you have allergies. My hubby, sons and one daughter-in-law are all allergic to something: dust, [my] cats' hair, food smells, pollen Not pleasant. THANK YOU my friend. Now I know how to saw How much. I inadvertantly deleted a list of numbers and other words my husband sent me via email, so these numbers are copied and pasted onto my documents. You are a DARLING! Thanks for the congratulations. The baby is beautiful

    Hi Lynda, ewgh the dust was awful and my lady had to re-BUILD the room the next day (I'm not very thorough -ha) Yes, the stall owner was very proud.

    Hi Glennis, I have a darling online blogger friend in the Emarites, who is helping me tremendously (see her comment here) She is a darling and her most interesting blog always has an Arabic Word for the day. Thanks for the sweet comment about the wee grandchild. He is 1/8th Scots!

  10. Hello Jo you made me smile.
    Honestly in my country we do have house helps and drivers:).But I love cleaning my room:)
    Such fun to go to the market and do bargaining.

    Thanks again for sharing your world.
    Blessings my friend.

  11. I know all about that dust, ey! But your fruit and vegetable stall is looking very grand!

  12. Hi Regina, the fruit stall visit helped me to get over my "dust ordeal" ha! Hope you're enjoying your break. (((Hugs)))

    Hi Sheba;) yes, you would know about dust. You are looking so good: never say you're the mother of seven! Big (((hugs))) to you and Esther and all in Niger.

  13. You live in an interesting world but the dust may have been a little tooo interesting. The fruit and vegie stall looks very pleasant. Well done with your shopping and photographing skills.

  14. Hi diane;) yes, the dust was a little too "much" for me. But the fruit shopping trip was a good compensation. Off to visit your blog.

  15. Great scenes from the market. It must be refreshing after all that boring work.

  16. Dust and dust bunnies not my favourite, too. Whow! - You're a traffic-stopper with just a little royal wave! Shall we try it here? No-o-o, perhaps not a good idea... LOL!

    Glad that you can enjoy fresh veggies, and get it at a reasonable price!! I'm worthless with bargaining! :(

  17. Hi Jo, I am with you totally when it comes to cleaning the house. I despise it---yet I love working in the yard, raking and weeding, etc... Hmmmmmm....

    Glad you got the AC fixed though. AND now that you have it all cleaned up --and even had a trip to the fruit market, life must be pretty good!!!! Right?????

    Have a good day... We may venture out today --after our big snow and ice storm. We have been housebound since Thursday.

  18. It was refreshing, Indani. Literally and figuratively! Good to see you again.

    Hi Ida! Ha. Imagine trying this in our country. That is why I am so fascinated with the method - it is all done with perfect manners from the pedestrian and utmost patience from the drivers. Ek het 'n vriend, wat, as hy 'n special kry, gee hy dit terug. Hy voel te sleg! Ek het al by die vrugte en groente-verkopers daar in ons dorp "ge-haggle" en afslag gekry! Bless jou, my pragtige vriendin. (((Jo)))

    Hi Betsy;) I agree with outside versus indoor work. I think that's why I don't like household chores (large ones like vacuuming) Back home it took up too much of my gardening time. Hope your weather warms up soon and get out. (((Hugs))) Jo

  19. I Hate housework. Have a sign hanging in my kitchen: "Dull women have immaculate homes." I consider myself anything but dull. And you aren't either. What a nasty job. Why couldn't those who made the mess clean it up.

    I love the vegetable market.

    Congrats Grandma!

  20. I agree Gaelyn (lol!) I have a sign in my kitchen back home which says: "his kitchen was cleaned yesterday. Sorry you missed it." The poor men were filthy and had to try and clean the mess out on the balcony while I did the inside. The compensating visit to the fruit and veg market was good. Thanks for the congratulations. Our newest baby is thriving on all the love and care around him. Glad you are back!

  21. Hi Jo,
    What a sandy mess! Glad you got to get away to the market. The veggies look really wonderful.
    Sunny :)

  22. Congratulations on your new grandson. He looks very healthy and absolutely perfect. Hope Mom is doing fine.
    Love this post about the produce seller.



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