The Original Chatters of Batha
The Original Chatters.
Eid 2011, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It was the first day of a
week long holiday in Saudi Arabia when I went to Batha (City
Center of Riyadh). My mission is to buy my long dreamed
flash (sb-700) for my camera so that I could use it on this
holiday, and to buy a black cloth for my planned room
studio. I dropped by at indian community just next to
filipino community. It’s because stores at Filipino
community area are mostly electronics and gadgets. There was
still daylight when I got there. As I am searching for the
cloth on every textile stores, I’ve noticed that the crowd
in every corner gets thicker and thicker. When Sallah
(prayer time) was shouted on loud speakers of minarets, I
stood at the sidewalk just behind the vendors. The area at
this moment were already filled with indians, pakistans and
Bangaladesh. You could distinguish them by their attires.
Pakistanis wore ther traditional dress (similar to pajamas,
except it’s only plain color.) though Bangladesh and indians are
identical, some Bangladesh wore clothes with embroidery.
When sallah was finished, I walked deeper into the crowds.
It is now like divisoria during christmas season. But in
Divisoria, most of the people were shoppers while these
indians and pakistanis are only standing and chatting with
each others. Even on ordinary weekends, they just go there
to meet and chat with their countrymen. There were 2 to 5
persons averagely on every group who were talking to each
other. The place were filled with voices which you cannot
even pick up a single word. But the smells were
recognizable. Common smells were body odors and “nganga”.
Since I need to squeeze myself in between them, I could
smell myself like them too. It was attached to my shirt.
Finally, I’ve found what I’m looking for, for 15 riyals per
meter I took two meters. Going back to my previous path was
harder than going thru the other end of the block. After
fiften years since saw this community (Batha), almost
nothing has changed except some new bldgs. But the crowds of
chatters had not changed.