09 September, 2009

Al Mukalla's Friday evening market

It's an open market. Not far from the sea. In Sher'g. Every Friday evening. For rabbits, chickens and pigeons. Sometimes, ducks, gooses and other kinds of birds are sold here too. Most of the sellers and buyers are boys or young men. This is a man's world. No girls or women come here.

These rabbits, depending on the sex and the age, can cost any thing between the equivalent of US$ 3 and 5. It is hard to keep rabbits. They eat all the time and breed many. For those who like rabbit meat, they are a good source of food.

Hens are left at home and kept for eggs and more chickens. I have seen only roosters brought here for sale. Here, as in most parts of the world, it is roosters that are slaughtered, most, for meat. In life, it seems the male species are doomed for solitariness or loneliness; and the slaughterhouse, fights and wars. These roosters cost 600 Riyals - 3 dollars - and above.

These caged birds, probably parakeets brought from South Asia or Africa, are very rarely sold here. They are hard to care for and with the heat and humidity here, they can easily perish. When taken good care of, they do breed even when caged. As they are very rare here, their prices fluctuate. The above were being sold at 3,000 Riyals - 15 $ - a pair. Wild birds shouldn't be in cages. They should be left in the wild.

Pigeons. Considered to be one of the most intelligent birds on the Planet with the birds being able to undertake tasks previously thought to be the sole preserve of humans and primates. Very caring and loving of their mates. They are monogamous and generally mate for life. If one partner dies or disappears, the survivor will try to get another mate. They breed throughout the year, and they take turns incubating the eggs and feeding the chicks when hatched.

In this market, pigeons are mainly sold in pairs. Each pigeon can cost 200 Riyals upwards; or a pair can cost 400 Riyals and above. Depending on the breed, the birds can be very expensive, with some priced at 60,000 Riyals - 300$ - a pair. The rarer the pigeon breed here, the more expensive it would be. Pigeons can be expensive: in some Western countries, racing pigeons can cost tens of thousands of dollars each. For some, pigeons are pests and are nasty creatures. But for me, they are the most adorable of birds. Pigeons are a symbol of peace and all great religions including Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs - revere pigeons.