I have never been the girl who loves to shop for clothes. Video games, music, hardware, books- take to me a book store and you’ll have to drag me away, but take me to a clothing store, and… urgh- I’d rather have someone pull out all of my toe hairs one by one than have to spend time perusing racks of clothing when I have no need to buy anything. If I need something then I can at least marshal myself to get what I need in an expedient fashion, but I do not go to clothing stores just to go (that toe hair thing has happened to me in Jordan, by the way. That’s no hyperbole).
So a few weeks ago when we five (Kat, Becca, Leslie, and Joel) talked about going to the Abdali Market, I was semi-interested, but skeptical. Abdali is the smaller of two ongoing flea markets in Amman, and I need a some winter gear that I was unable to pack due to space restrictions- snow/rain boots, sweaters, heavy coats, etc.
But it’s a market :(.
Leslie explained a bit that she had heard from some of our friends how Abdali is a huge souk where they sell all kinds of used things- clothes, shoes, coats, unused kitchen items, etc. It starts at 3 in the afternoon and lasts until who knows when.
But… market >(!
Okay, okay, so I admit that part of me was curious. I haven’t been to a flea market in the States in years, and I was wondering how Jordanians would do it. Besides, beyond needing a few things that might be more conveniently purchased from a central location and not chased high and low in numerous stores, if I could turn my thought process into a perspective of, “Oh, this will be an interesting thing to witness, to experience…!” the trip might be more bearable.
Curiosity won out over hesitation, and four of five of us arrived at the market around 19:00 (Becca came later) on Thursday evening. That time of evening is about the time most of us are sitting down to dinner in the States, but it’s well early for Jordanians, and yet the Market was already in full swing. Families, clusters of young women, old women or young men- all demographics are represented there. Covering tarps were everywhere, but there were fewer separated stalls than great open spaces full of tables and bins with clothes- racks with jackets and pants and ground-to-tarp setups with rows and rows and rows of shoes. Every size, every colour imaginable. I thought more than once that there were enough clothes and shoes to clothe every person in Amman.
I was not particularly focused on looking for clothing, more interested in observing the idea of the market, the overall feeling of controlled chaos between sellers and buyers and the etiquette displayed by both. Besides, there were very few kitchen items (I have my eye on a mandoline) and the sheer amount of clothing was enough to strain my already thin patience for shopping.
One would have to have a keen eye to discern a treasure in the racks. It’s fair to say that 99% of the market was clothing, with 99% of that having some degree of use. Not everyone has a Leslie with them, though. That woman is a storm of energy when she shops, always purposeful and focused. She had tried on four or five coats by the time I got my courage up to even look at them with the maybe-intent of buying one.
We passed one rack and she was pulling off coats left and right, asking Kathleen and me to hold different things for her as we stood by more passively, when she suddenly said, “Oh, this coat is Brooks Brothers!” My ears perked up and I turned to see her trying on a rather plain, black wool coat, too long too be a pea coat, but too short to be a trench. It was a bit large on her and she was already onto the next one when she passed it back to the rack. I held it and began inspecting it at her request, but with interest of my own, looking over the hems and stitching, the lining, the condition of the wool, etc. It was in very good condition.
Let’s make this story short. Leslie liked the coat, but she was not entirely into it, and I asked if she wouldn’t mind if I bought it if she was not sold on it. She enthusiastically passed it my way, and I walked out of the Abdali Market with a (in my opinion) very nice women’s Brooks Brothers coat for around 7 USD.
This girl who does not like to shop will be returning to Abdali.