the market

Listen in Souk al Ahad

Listen in Souk al Ahad


Sound by Janie

or download to listen offline

Listen at Souk al Ahad on a Saturday or Sunday.

There is some flat access. The market is usually crowded.

Alternatively, listen in a place where you make or spend money.


A food vendor beats a complex rhythm with metal tongs. Sounds of traffic and car horns in the background. A noisy place.

 A coffee machine steamer and bubbling narguileh. Several voices talking in Arabic, just out of earshot. A male voice says “Ahlan wa sahlan!” [Welcome!]. A phone rings.

 Birds for sale in cages cheep. A recorded voice plays from a speaker on a stall: Khamistalaf khamistalaf! Pantaloon ala al tawla! Khamistalaf! [5000 Lebanese lira, 5000! Pants on the table, 5000!].


Before, I was a housemaid, ya’ani [Arabic: I mean]. I think five months. I ran away.

I don’t buy, because I want to build a house. Because maybe if I finish here, even [if] I don’t have – what’s this – permanent work in the Philippines, I have my own home. I have my own house. And my kids. Eh, heke [Arabic: Yes, like this].


When… when do you want to go home?


Umm… If they catch me.


Walang papel? [Tagalog: Undocumented?]


Eh, walang papel. No papers. If they catch me. And now they have repatriation. Eh, they have. Bas [Arabic: but] what will I do if I go home? I don’t have work in Philippines. I have two kids. Mmm. My first kid, she will go college – ya’ani, after one year, college. Who will pay for her, ya’ani? She told me, ‘We like you to come. Bas what will we do when you come home?’

Mahirap. [Tagalog: It’s difficult.] Mmm.

Sound of the vendor beating his rhythm in the distance. Metal objects being touched and moved around.

If I see something for my kids, I buy something for them, I put in a box and send. I put more, laughing, more pasta, chocolates, and then I send it. Oh, they are happy! They are all happy. They want, ‘I’m the one to open it! No, me, me, me!’ They are always so excited to open, hayda [Arabic: this], the box. If you send box, you must put names. Because if you don’t  put names: ‘This is mine, this is mine, this is mine.’ It’s better you put names, for they know, ‘Ah, this for you, this for you,’ heke.

Sound of coffee glasses, music, voices: “Mohammed, alla yirda alaik [Arabic: Mohammed, please!]

 A song plays on a record player with high, tinny voice.

 “Welcome, welcome, welcome!” cries a vendor in English. The sound of a mechanical toy clacking. The sound of the caged birds again.

My daughter, I told you, going college. She wants to be a teacher. She wants to be a teacher. I told her, ‘Are you sure?’ Because I want her to go abroad kamen [Arabic: also].

But not housemaid. No, no, no.

Instrumental music with a violin and strong percussion begins on a record player. It’s slowly overlayed by music on the radio on the next stall which seems to be stuck between stations. Eerie voice with static and then a strong dance beat. Other discordant songs combine over the radio static.

The radio music fades out, leaving the last of the vendor’s metal tongs beating his rhythm.