Friday, April 07, 2006

This used to be my playground

There used to be a park where I would often go when I was growing up. It was a small place, nudged next to some grocery stores in a ghetto part of town, very different from some of the other, more spectacular parks in the city. (The place I grew up in is famously referred to as the City of Gardens.) But we would go to this small place more often than the others, simply because of its location. It was next to my mother’s favorite grocery store and every time we ran out of milk or coriander an occasion presented itself for a visit.

It was a small park, like I said, a modest plot of land thoughtfully converted into a playground. It had a slide and a seesaw, a large carousel that tipped dangerously at high speeds. There may once have been grass for kids to roll around in but by the time I got there what remained was a close green stubble, tramped down by a daily swarm of flip-flopped children whose mothers had also miraculously run out of bread or beetroots. A stream ran through the park, populated with large cobblestones, which, in the night, made it look like an alligator was lurking in the water, waiting to bite your thigh off. A dainty little bridge ran over the stream from which I used to watch vigilantly for its movements. Of course, the alligator never did move. It knew it was being watched.

A few years ago they tore the park down. The rides were dismantled and taken away, the stream dug up and an apartment block installed in its place. The ground floor is a department store selling low-priced, imported garments. Children go there now with their parents but there is no laughter any more. Only the sound of flip-flops slapping on cold tile floors.

2 Comments:

Anonymous knicq said...

This place sounds eerily familiar. It sounds uncannily like the place my brother and I had our first real fight in with a couple of egyptian kids, and enjoyed it. It also sounds like the place where exactly 19 people had burst out laughing when I had slipped on one those stones that were placed in the 'stream' and splashed right into it!

Are there any prizes for guessing the name of that grocery store?

It was everyone's favorite store in the city of gardens, wasn't it?

...or am I just talking about a totally different place?

5:22 AM  
Blogger karrvakarela said...

Yes, those stones were slippery. Why don't you name the store and then we'll know for sure. I think we're talking about the same place though.

By the way, you'd be surprised how famous the city of gardens is. There was a profile in the British Medical Journal of a geneticist currently practising and teaching at the Faculty of Medicine in Al Ain. She's even discovered a syndrome and had it named after her.

It must be the (sulfurous) water.

1:05 PM  

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