Does anyone know? Does it still happen for people to buy fake trade mark products from a car’s trunk? I have lived that only once, a lot of years ago, when I bought a pair of sunglasses, a good fake, a lot cheaper than the ones in the shops. Otherwise, I chose to be snobbish. As far as my pocket allowed me to… And I have never completed my wardrobe with fake clothes, some replica of Chanel or worse, with Abibas and Nkie. J
But the experience I had in Dubai, some time ago, was really something not to be missed!
GOLD SOUK DUBAI
During my first visit to the Emirates, I had the impression sometimes that I was teleported to “Sex and the City 2” (the one in which the crazy women leave for Abu Dhabi and go through a lot of funny situations). Although the movie was shot in Morocco, not in the Emirates ;), I have associated here a lot of places and things that happened with the ones in the movie, from the visit of the girls in “souk”, the Indian sharp-toed shoes to the “forbidden experience”.
One day, my friend Mira (my host and guide in the Emirates) took me in the abra – the traditional boat. We crossed from one shore to the other paying less than 25 cents per person and then we walked for a very long time and got to Gold Souk – a fair with hundreds of products, from clothes and accessories, to gold jewelry. A lot of gold jewelry, that many that my eyes hurt…
Among a lot of kitsch, I see some good quality products, but they are expensive, and I hear myself saying: “Why don’t I buy myself a cool watch, a fake, just for the sake of living…
Mira asks me how much money I have with me, because it is important to negotiate, to give then a small amount of money and leave immediately. I have some 300 Dirhams (about 300 Ron/64 euros). But there was no watch in the fair we were sweeping up and down. As we were looking at all sorts of things, one more kitsch than the other, a guy came to us: “Madam, bags? Watches? Good price!” From a crazy impulse, we both say: “Yes!” J And the adventure begins!
THE FORBIDDEN EXPERIENCE
We follow the man in front of us, who does not say anything, no joke, no being nice or anything. You would think he is taking us to the police station… But we follow him with determination, going past the stands that become fewer and fewer, towards some very suspect alleys behind the fair, where you can see poverty all over the place. I become frightened… We walk on alleys full of misery, with huge trash cans and with shops that seem from the worst neighborhood in the world.
The man stops in front of a sinister building with a closed door. He calls and he talks to someone short and seriously… The door opens. We get into a filthy elevator, the three of us go up. There is an exchange of passwords, the door opens with noise, and we enter an apartment transformed into a market… here are hundreds of bags on the walls! Really, I am not exaggerating. There are wallets. Glasses. And three colored men at a table.
They ask us what we want, we tell them about Omega and the three start to take out from some drawers, one by one, boxes of watches. Whatever you may want! They were never-ending. Some looked good, others were terrible fakes. We start touching some of them. After some 12 minutes of looking, I choose two, and then one of the two. That is it! This is the one!
OMEGA FAKE PRICE
I look at it, I check it, I try it, I turn the button, I pull the strap to see if it is all right. Then Mirabela takes the lead and the negotiation begins. From 590 Dirhams – about 600 lei or around 125 Euros. She offers 200 Dirhams, as she knows that I only have 300 with me. The people there look at us dumbfounded and upset by our guts. She raises her voice in a friendly way. They do the same. The negotiation is on. We look at the beautiful watch. They take it from our hands and they give us some others that are terrible. They tell us those are in the price range we offered. Damn! Mira says a few words in Arabic, she explains the fact that she is from there, that she knows the prices and even some of the dealers and that there is no point in them raising the price. In the end, we happily get to the price of 300 Dirhams. Yes!
I want to get the money from my bag to pay, yet… no money. WTF? I only had about 100 Dirhams cash, and she had a card! We thought the negotiation was in vain and that those people could even beat the hell out of us, thinking we are making fun of them… However, the sellers find a solution: they send a colored one with us to the ATM.
Of course the ATM is at the end of that world of dustbins and narrow streets full of Arabs, Pakistani and Indian people. I take the money from the ATM and I pay the man, putting the card back into my pocket in a hurry. We go back to the market-apartment. Happy, I take the acquisition and I ask then to shorten the strap, as it is too large. We wait…
Seeing I look at the bags that are exposed on the walls and I don’t look happy with the quality of some of them, a man takes us with him and he opens another fake wall, inside the same apartment! I am in shock! We discover a new room full of leather bags! And MontBlanc pens. And wallets of a flawless quality. All fake! So this is it! There are some hidden rooms for those who are not suckers… I look at them and that is all… to the great disappointment of the man who showed us the secret path… J
I cannot take pictures, so I keep the phone in my pocket, like a good girl that I am. So I have nothing to show you from that room.
The man does not give up and looking at the clothes we are wearing, he asks: “Maybe you want some Ralph Lauren T-shirts? La Martina? Tommy?”. I think we should not say “no” to anything just in order to be able to leave the place alive J. So he takes us to a building next door, as suspect looking as the first one, with yet another dirty and smelling elevator, to another apartment as secured and full of merchandize as the first one. This time, it’s clothes. They have from kids clothes to adult ones. Hundreds of pieces of clothing. I look, I say “thank you” and… come on, let’s take the Omega and go already, as God knows what could be next. Maybe he’ll open a secret wall and show us some cars… For example, these two would be nice… And these are not fake. J
Out in the street, I put on my first Omega, full of joy and pride. Yes, I know, it is a fake, but the acquisition process and the fear make it even more valuable.
It looks nice! I look at it every minute or so, just like a kid who has just got his favorite toy. I get home and I take the watch off to put it on the table and… the back cap falls off. You cannot imagine the shock I had! I contemplated the idea of going and killing those men! A fake watch that did not last even for a day? And that after me pulling at every part to be sure it is ok? I don’t get it! How can this be possible? However I understand there is no point in going back. Who the hell would go back to that place? And even if I could gather up the courage, who can find the place?
The next day, in a no-shine Dubai, in an old and poor district, in a very small and dirty shop, a man that is, apparently, a watch, keys and other trinkets specialist, repairs my cap in like 20 seconds… And he wants no money.
I leave pleased and extremely amused by the “forbidden experience” lived in the Emirates.
Seven years have passed. The watch still works…