Thursday, 5 February 2015

Where the streets have no names

It's no secret that the Arabs love their qahwa (Arabic coffee). In fact, they love it so much that they've built monuments honouring the drink. It's not uncommon to see these dallah pots dotting the landscape of small towns all over Arabia:
But here is a little known gem about these landmarks. See, most of the KSA have no regard for street names (or any kind of order really). In some small towns, the streets don't even have names. As one can imagine, this poses a tiny dilemma for people who love to shop online, or who are fond of mail, and even those who just want their food delivered.
It is therefore a norm when sending mail, to not only include the street name (if available) and the district name on your postage, but also your telephone number and a few simple directions. This is so common that even conglomerates like FedEx and UPS will call you up and ask you for directions instead of using a Garmin. 
In some quirky, unintentional way, these landmarks have come in handy and proven useful, if not, essential to getting your mail / food delivered. Even in the larger cities where the streets do have names, the delivery guy will usually call you up, and a typical conversation (in Arabic or English) will go something like this:

"Go straight on the main road - yes, straight - past the first tea pot, then turn right and drive another two blocks, and when you get to the second tea pot turn left, see the thin white cat on the corner? Ok, yes, count three houses, across the mosque, with the fence. Right, I see you."

It's utter ridiculousness, as so many things in life are.

14 comments:

  1. This is the most interesting info that's come my way all day (even better than hearing of a 52-year-old giving birth to her first child this morning). So what happens if you're new in town and unable to competently give detailed driving directions? Also, what if you're unable to answer the phone when it rings - do the deliverers then get to the destination address on their wits? Desperate to know!

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    1. @RovingRetorter - If you're new in town, just tell the driver the name of the closest store / mall / shopping district. I don't know how they do it, but they always manage to find you. If you're unable to answer the phone, the package will remain with the Post Office or with FedEx/ UPS until you contact them.

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  2. Here we say, "keep going, you'll know you're on the right road because there are fields on both sides. Turn left at the really big barn."

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    1. @HappyWhisk - Big landmarks and buildings like barns and hotels are useful here too. You just need to mention the name of the building and you're good:)

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  3. They do have some serious coffee. College was always a-buzz! Second teapot, across from the mosque... sounds about right!

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  4. Hi Azra! Thanks for joining the Celebrate the Small Things hop! We have a giant pot pouring water on the Memsha in Hurghada too. Your pics are amazing! I look forward to your Celebrate post next Friday! :)

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  5. Just so you know... I could do with a cup of tea. In a pot.

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    1. @Blue - Just so you know, me too :P

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    2. What kind of tea... would it be?

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    3. Lets go wild @Blue. Orange Blossom. Or Mint. Or Orange Blossom AND Mint.

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  6. It is ridiculous but also fun to see how things are done elsewhere. And a culture where coffee is worshipped? I could get down with that

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    1. @rooth - There's fun and humour in the ridiculousness.

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