With hundreds of Syrian refugees arriving daily in Toronto these days, the eyes of many local residents could be opened to previously unknown stores and services in their own city. The sponsors of some of the refugees might have to show their charges where to buy food. While sponsors will be giving clothing free to the newcomers, the sponsors might have to tell them where to find traditional garments like taqiyah (prayer caps) or hijabs (head scarfs) at prices refugees can afford and in styles they prefer.
I don’t know about other weekend flea markets but the one in Mississauga is pretty good for starters. It might be a long way from where newcomers are living. They will probably need a ride but local volunteers going with them should find it interesting as well. Several stalls here sell Muslim-style clothing and religious books. Wall hangings include beautiful calligraphy in Arabic. Helpful for refugees might be phone cards, and information about Arabic language television channels. Men’s hair cuts are $10. One vendor was selling Christian books, religious statues, and crucifixes.
Shisha (water pipes) were on sale. They are now being forbidden in restaurants and bars in our city but you can use them in your own homes.
Prices at the farmers’ market are good but the produce could be fresher. A mini-watermelon cost $2; cucumbers 79 cents a pound.
Carpets are on sale.
And Halal pizza, Turkish and Afghan food. Rano here at Ariana is from Uzbekistan. Her husband is Afghani. Their pastries and kebabs were delicious, fresh from the oven.
I found this market with its 350 plus vendors very interesting. You can just sit and drink a cup of chai or coffee, or you can explore and look for things like nuts or Turkish candy.
This market is very multicultural. I found a stall with items from Peru.
One vendor was selling man-sized swords and toy automatic rifles (no photos allowed). And an unexpected gadget, so new, I don’t know the name in English. Is this a battery-operated skateboard?
Some illegal DVDs of newly released Hollywood movies were on sale too. Shopping here can be quite an adventure. Many vendors speak Arabic as well as English. Yes, this flea market can be fun for refugees but also for others as well.
Last week four non-Muslim friends went for the first time to the amazing Adonis Fine Foods in Scarborough. More on that one, and other ethnic supermarkets later. Entry of course is free. Please let us know what flea markets you would recommend for newcomers. This one is at 3092 Mavis Road in Mississauga. http://www.mississauga-fleamarket.com/.