In the market souqs along Dubai Creek I followed my nose. Past the white robbed Thobes and scarves from Jordan and Syria, the belly dancer costumes fresh from Bagdad with the shiny hanging coin braziers and the junk shops selling busted Japanese razors and plastic sandals from China. Until I got to the spice racks… where my senses came alive.
“Come my friend,” the short, dark skinned owner of the shop said to me, leading me gently by the arm inside, “Have you ever been seduced by the sweet gum of frankincense or the subtle powder of myrrh?”
I thanked him, but no, I only wanted the remainder of my purchase.
“But I will give you thyme from Prussia and dark fennel from the Indus Valley. Crush this in your tea and you will live a hundred years.”
I smiled, agreed, asked again for my change.
“But you must also buy black sage from the Caucasus and sweet coriander from Ethiopian mountains that will ward off evil spirits.”
I was arguing now, demanding my money back.
“No, you buy more. No.”
Finally, I grabbed his wrist, and the money was back in my pocket as I left his store with my chocolate and lemon tea.
The rest of that afternoon, wandering the market, I laughed. The woman at the hotel had almost convinced me. Maybe something remained after all. Anyway, it was a good sign, wasn’t it?