Monday, 9 September 2013

Riyadh's Computer Souq

There is a computer souq in Riyadh.  It's along Olaya Street near the Holiday Inn, or there abouts.  At least, that's where Mr Noor took us when we were in need of an updated version of software for the lap-top.

 Most people download their software direct from cyber space to computer.  We tried that, it didn't work.  When we sent a message to the "Help" service, they weren't much help.  Sending screeds of tech jargon via email to the technologically challenged is no assistance at all.  Not picking up a phone when we ring is equally useless.  Hence our trip to Riyadhs' computer souq. 

It wasn't quite what I expected, though I'm not really sure what I was expecting. 

I still live in the hope that I will turn up to a specialty store in Riyadh and find specialty service.  Someone who knows absolutely everything about the specialty I'm having difficulty with and can convey the information in a language that I can understand.  That would mean 'non-jargon' type language.  It also means English - pure, clear, unaccented English. 

Ok, so maybe a little bit of accent is OK, but when I have to say with a squinty frown, "Can you say that again?" it's oft because the accent is making the English words quite  incomprehensible.  (I only squint-frown when asking accent related questions because I presume it implies that I didn't understand a word being said!).

Choosing software is far too important not to be able to understand the bloke selling you the product.
Then I arrive at a place like the computer souq and remember - I'm in Riyadh.

There's not a technician in the place.  There's not a technician in any of the places.  At least, no one comes forth with a label mounted behind clear plastic identifying himself as a software wizard.

If you plan to go to this computer souq, come knowing exactly what you're looking for.  We gathered, quite quickly, that most of the men offering assistance in the stores have limited knowledge of the wares they are selling.  And what they do know, many can't communicate at any great length in English.

Those that knew a spot of English would grab a box from the nearest pile, not even having asked what we're looking for, and shove it in front of us with 'This one'.  If asked 'What does it do?' they would swivel their hand round and back like a washing machine, twisting at the wrist with the box held in their fingers, while garbling something unintelligible, ending with 'You take?'
'Ummmm.....No thanks'.
Moving on.

Others would see us coming into the shop and stare.
Nothing else.  Just stare.
Their reaction made me think white folk and women roaming through computer souqs in Riyadh was a rare treat!

Women can easily get annoyed by the eye popping in Riyadh and, on bad hair days, one is prone to respond with negative aggression.  It's usually a waste of energy.  The buggars just move off a ways and stare!   It's best to simply ignore staring men and focus on finding my software among the stacked boxes taking up most of the space on shop floors.

Hubster was ready to give up on our search for required software quite soon after arrival.  He puts up with enough fools at work (or so his daily tirades about fools at work has me believe) and tends to be rather terse when he meets clueless types on his afternoons off.  But the computer and internet are a very large part of my Riyadh life, so I had no intention of leaving till I'd found, and purchased, what I'd come for.

As Hubster was attempting dialogue in one shop, I wandered across the street to a place slightly detached from the rest and found a salesmen who seemed to have a clue and whose banjo sounding English required minimal deciphering.  (Or perhaps I had attuned my ears by this point).

Said salesman was also happy to talk to a female.
It's nice in a jungle of stary eyes to find someone 'normal'.

Hubster gets slightly annoyed that I wander off on our jaunts around Riyadh souqs but, being quite astute, I can very quickly pick up when people and places are wasting my time.  He is more of a bulldog.  He'd rather persist with questioning, chasing after answers that a salesman simply cannot give then, though getting annoyed with the lack of progress, pushing on expecting, almost willing, that soon the answer he seeks will materialize from frightened eyes and dry, nervous, non-English speaking lips.

I prefer to move on, and do.
He then gets upset that I'm not in protective view.
His paranoia of my kidnap from Riyadh streets is almost as irritating as his insistence on getting some sort of sense from sales folk who do not have a response to give.
I've told him he'd have more luck if he learnt their language.
He retorts with huffy, growly look!

Because of these unexpected, though in hindsight totally obvious, Riyadh-ian issues, our quick trip to the computer souq was rather longer than we had planned.  We left in the hope our purchase would do what the English writing on the outside and the excited nods and banjo plucking English of the guy in the shop said it would do.

(Hallelujah, it did!)

Location of the Riyadh Computer Souq

Hubster was adamant a return to the computer souq would not be on the cards in his Riyadh lifetime.  I'm not so quick to dismiss the place because, let's face it, help has still not arrived for the online software.  Neither has a refund!

Ka Kite,

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