If you’re anything like me – unemployed, on a budget and like to go out a lot – you’ll know it’s important to be savvy while spending money. Impulse-buying is almost second nature to people like us.
Today, inspired by all the Halloween costumes I’ve seen lately, I decided to get crafty and make myself a cute headband with cat ears (akin to Taylor Swift’s). For inspiration, I turned to.. Pinterest. After looking up some ideas, I prepared a list of things I needed: some lace, sequins, a metal headband and copper wire (for the ear shape).
Here’s the twist: When I told my editor about this plan, she decided to throw me a curveball. She asked me to buy it all for 3 Bahraini Dinars (30 Dirhams). At this point, I’m game and ready to haggle my way through this challenge. So, after lazing at home all morning, I figured I should head to Manama Souq – located in the heart of Bahrain, this marketplace is full of gold, loose-cloth, knock-offs, antiques and food-vendors. Home to unique and strange items.
Getting to the souq wasn’t the hard part, finding the right shop was. With light sifting in from the top and the smell of carpets and oud, Manama Souq has a variety of shops for clothes and accessories. You’ll find what you want, but sometimes you have to skim through a few shops to get it. It’s smart to keep a lookout for what the street vendors have to offer, but make sure you bargain hard [Don’t give up easy and you’ll get a great deal].
Every shop in the souq is a mesmerizing world of its own, with rustic-looking lamps, delicate jewelry and embroidered pashminas. The shopkeepers instantly start listing their items as you walk by, inviting you in for a look. You hear a constant hum in the air: “It’s 1 dinar (10 dirhams) – watches, handbags, sunglasses madam. Raybans only for 5 dinars (50 dirhams)”.
I walked past a dozen shops, took some turns and finally ended up in a shop called Silver Lace. Full of reels of laces and threads – sequined, colorful, embellished – stacked the shelves along with boxes of buttons, & brooches and small sewing machines for your instant fix-up. After looking through a few bundles of lace, I finally decided on one I wanted and a strip of sequins too: half a metre each. My mum (my trusty companion) wanted to buy some cloth too. Our total expense so far: 1 Dinar. Success!
I then roamed to find the metal headband. Walking by a vendor in an alleyway selling all sorts of hair ties, headbands, clips, pins, and makeup, I found my metal headband. With that being 200fils (2 Dirhams), our total expense was now: 1.200 Dinars. Super success!
After the long walks and relentless hunting, we were now famished and parched. We walked for a while and finally found a food store – the snacks were worth 1.5 Dinars and 200 fils parking fees. This brought our overall expense to: 2.700 Dinars.
Creating the headband wasn’t as easy as I thought. It took me two and a half hours to make but I got through it [without shedding a single tear]! I’m not going to lie, I’m quite proud of it.
Grand total: 2.7 dinars.
There is no need to spend a lot of money for things you want or things you want to do. Adventure and exploration are always free. And take it from me: it’s much more charming to wear something unique instead of wearing retail. Plus, who knew you could actually get away with spending just about 3 Dinars [with food]? This is something I know I will be doing a lot more of from now on.
So, if you’re traveling to Bahrain on a budget, you know where to get your souvenirs. On the other hand, if you’re a broke fashionista in the Middle East, you now know how to make your own accessories on a budget: with nifty little things from Souqs.