I’m visiting Zainab Market with my friend and her cousin, a slender young woman, who guides us to a jeans store off the main road. Apparently the store, which sells fitted jeans and pants, has a reputation among upper-class women who wear western clothing.
Once we step into the space that can reasonably only fit about four human bodes, my friend’s cousin picks out a pair of slinky straight-leg jeans and the shopkeeper opens a tiny changing room behind the clothes rack.
Ducking into the cardboard changing room, she appears five minutes later. She’s wearing the jeans, and points out areas where the fit is good and where it needs improvement.
The bearded shopkeeper listens and takes notes. Then he nods and shakes his head, saying: “No problem, we will fix it.”
Later, I tell the woman, a friend’s cousin: “That was a funny moment.”
She tilts her head. “What do you mean? Mullah-type? Was he staring too much?”
I shake my head, not knowing how to articulate my wonder about the compressed space, the cardboard changing room, the mullah and the perfectly fitted jeans.