Dhows in Dubai ~ Living Relics

 

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There have been dhows sailing out of the Persian Gulf for India and East Africa for a thousand years and more, following the gyre of monsoon winds. Dates, jewels, fine carpets and chests went one way; ivory, gold, leopard skins and slaves came the other.

These days in Dubai Creek you are more likely to see cargos of Coca Cola, white goods and Japanese cars being loaded on deck. But for all that, and yet among the ever sprouting  high rises, there is still a drift of Arabian Nights’ romance, and more than a hint of Sinbad’s voyaging.

Related posts:

Zanzibar: time’s twists and turns

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture (The Swahili)

Inside looking out on Lamu Island

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WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic Go here for more bloggers’ relics

Wind in the palms on Kenya’s coral shores

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Tiwi Beach, South Mombasa

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These leaning coconut palms and the photo of me holding on to my hat remind me that there is nearly always a breeze on Tiwi Beach. You need it too. In the hot season, around December to February, it makes the sticky tropical humidity bearable. It also keeps malarial mosquitoes at bay.

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Don’t let go! Me, at Capricho Cove, too many years ago

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But the tropical breeze is not so good for kite launching. The team leader never did get his kite airborne.; the wind endlessly beating it into the sand. No matter. I think we decided that kite flying was probably too active an activity, even at the day’s end. Much better to crack open a Tusker beer, one almost chilled in

Graham tries to fly his kite

Graham not flying his kite at Maweni Cove.

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the beach cottage’s rackety  refrigerator.

Maweni cottage at sunset

Maweni Cottages built in the Swahili style.

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In the holiday season, and especially at Christmas, these beach villages tend to be the haunt of expatriates (especially aid workers), and mixed race families who do not always receive the best of treatment in Kenya’s fancy beach hotels. The cottages are designed to keep out too much sun and let in maximum draught: coral rag walls, high makuti  thatch, glassless windows and shutters with moveable slats. This is of course a European take on indigenous Swahili architecture.

I have written in another post about Swahili culture and how it might be said to have been shaped by the monsoon winds: the north-easterly Kaskazi that for centuries brought Arab merchant ships down the coast of Africa; the south easterly Kusi that blew them away again after a windless sojourn during which sailing dhows were beached and repaired and liaisons with African communities forged.

From this age-old congress between Arab seafarers and Bantu farmer-traders, came a blending and melding of body, mind and spirit that evolved into the urban coastal people whom we know as the Swahili. Their language, KiSwahili, is also a fusion: of Arabic and Bantu vernaculars, and as such, presents a fascinating exemplar of multicultural integration that has forged a distinct identity of its own. That’s something to ponder on, isn’t it: how different races can create together; how it took the monsoon wind to bring them together?

Salamu (Greetings)

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A Word A Week Photo Challenge: Wind: go here for more wind stories and see the ones below:

http://irenewaters19.com/2013/12/19/a-word-a-week-wind/

http://hamburgundmeehr.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/a-word-a-week-photograph-challenge-wind/

http://geophiliac.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/a-word-a-week-photography-challenge-wind/

http://bambangpriantono.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/a-word-a-week-photograph-challenge-wind-angin-the-wind-blown-flag/

http://schelleycassidy.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/a-word-a-week-challenge-wind/

http://mang0people.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/a-word-a-week-photograph-challenge-wind/

http://emiliopasquale.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/a-word-a-week-photograph-challenge-wind/

http://sillarit.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/a-word-a-week-photograph-challenge-wind/

Related:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture (The Swahili)

Travel Theme: Beaches (Mombasa)