At Ali Baba’s cave…

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I had no intention of going to the Mutrah Souq on another visit, but my wife and friends were stuck on it.. and so I reluctantly tagged along. I didn’t expect to do much (it had been a long day) and sensed that I would have to play the porter once the evening was done.

Mutrah Souk is along the Corniche in an old quarter of Muscat and wandering in is like walking into a bygone era. As you jostle your way through the crowds of pedlars, tourists and locals, the air fragrant with spices and frankincense, and the narrow alleys crammed with treasures beckon you. I felt like one of the thieves in Arabian tale ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’ as I stole glances from one shop to the next (praying that my wife would not be as tempted as I was).

And then, as is the case with every visit, we walked into Ali Baba’s! Akhtar, all decked up in his dish-dasha beamed at us from behind the counter… Marhaba.. marhaba… you visit me after a lone time! He wasted no time – and as always, after one cup of strong Arabic coffee… I was hooked.

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Akhtar has a story for almost every beautiful curio in his cave – from bedouin chests, to khanjars, ancient swords and talismans; semi precious stones, ancient amber, antiques that find their way to his cave from all over Arabia and Africa. I thought to ask him what came in as spoils of his last raid… but held myself. I knew Akhtar wouldn’t mind – he was a real gentleman.

I scrounged through the piles of silver… scanned his shelves from floor to ceiling – looking for that singular piece that has eluded all other shoppers. And I found it – a beautiful type of triptych with the last supper and some saints. Looked old Ethiopian… and I need time to study it in more detail.

While we wait… you could look for something too – in my pictures and perhaps find that quaint unique piece of art that has again eluded me.

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