Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dolce and Banana

Some people are never seen again after they visit...
Back when I first arrived in Dubai, we’d heard of a mystical place. A place where Hermes handbags nestled alongside Chloe purses, all at magical prices. Of course, these items were (ahem) copies. Not the real shebang. But their quality was legendary. This place was, of course, Karama. Even my guests who have never been to Dubai before knew its name and it’s a frequent request on any stay.

The way it worked, way back then, was this: a friend of a friend of a friend recommended the name and number of ‘her guy’. This was a tried and trusted source – you would never throw yourself on the mercy of Karama without a guide. 

You then called ‘her guy’. 

Some garbled directions later and ‘her guy’ met you on the steps of Karama Fish Market.
He then led you through a maze of shops and hawkers to ‘his shop’.

Then, dear reader, all the magic of the world unfurled before you…..bags piled as high as the eye could see, secret stairways and doorways to untold purses, clutches, scarves, sunglasses and watches. I actually squealed with delight on my first visit when I saw the brand new Prada Fairy bag just sitting, waiting, for me to snap it up. 

Over the years I took HEAPS of friends and visitors to visit ‘her guy’ who quickly became ‘my guy’. One legendary trip involved 12 of us going in a three car convoy. After perusing he aisles for at least two hours,  and each person in the group buying at least 4 handbags, it was safe to say that ‘my guy’ had a very successful afternoon.

This all changed about a year ago. A police ‘crack down’ on counterfeiting meant that the stores in Karama had significantly less stock. And to top it all off, ‘my guy’ left the country. Hello, selfish?! 

This meant that trips to Karama are no longer filled with joy. As I mentioned, the stock is not what it was. Quality is poor (the Balenciaga ‘sticky zip syndrome’).  There’s also very little room for haggling these days. I’m not a massive haggler anyway – with ‘my guy’ he gave us a fixed price, which we knew was massively less than the tourists paid (we earwigged to check) thus alleviating the stress of bartering.

I had a chat with one of the shop owners recently when taking visitors. We covered quality and pricing. His take was that due to the influx of Russian shoppers, they had no need to reduce their prices, or worry about quality. The Ruskies, apparently, aren’t bothered about either of these things. Interesting.

Anyway, the good news is that I recently found a good shop. Good range, good quality and up for a bit of bartering. I could weep with relief – doing the full circuit of Karama (two hours) in 45 degree heat was beginning to be a little trying, to say the least.

I could tell you the name of my ‘new guy’ but I’d have to kill you. To avoid such extreme measures, message me, and I’ll share the new joy!


Savannah NOT Banana said...

Just stumbled onto your blog from Mrs. Dubai. You're hilarious! I actually live in Karama but I find I'm pretty clueless when it comes to shopping here. Do you really have the number of a "new guy", and if so are you willing to spill? :)

Britney of Arabia said...

My new favourite shop is 'Karama Flower'...stand with the fish market on your right and it's just on the left hand side as you walk along...good luck!

Savannah NOT Banana said...

Thanks for the tip :)