Bog's World

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Public Places

Inns, Hostels and Taverns

In the PEP, Inns and taverns were a common feature in the social landscape of the Flannaess. In most towns, a merchant and his family would run an establishment, possibly with hired help. A basic tavern would simply be one or two rooms where beverages and possibly meals could be procured and enjoyed at the table, away from the unpredictable Flanne weather. A high class inn would have rooms to let, stabling for horses, staff to run errands for guests and possibly a residents as well as public bars. Most establishments would fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

In large enough town, there may well be more than one establishment. Usually these would polarise to opposite ends of the market, reducing conflict and maximising patronage. Of course in very large towns and cities, there would be competing establishments.

In the agricultural villages of the Flanne Basin there would tend to be one household in the village who would run part of their home as a tavern, effectively open for business to the rest of the village only at peak times (after the day’s work had been done). They would also open for business before and after religious services, when persons were likely to congregate en route to or from their place of worship. The family running this type of facility would have their own smallholding or provide agricultural labour for others; the running of the tavern, for their distinctly local clientele, would not be their only form of income.

During the early Pax Platanica, the practice arose of certain groups patronising specific establishments. This originated in the Keoland region but has subsequently spread throughout the empire. These places geared their business to cater for a specific clientele, either a trade or profession or perhaps a select segment of society. These establishments, termed hostels, would provide accommodations and a base from which their guests could operate for perhaps a longer period than an inn, which tended to view a stop of more than a few nights as an inconvenience rather than an income stream. Hostels would accept other guests, but would quickly turn them out if some of their normal guests booked in. This partisan attitude not only assured the client group a place to stay, but also meant that the hostel would attract all of these persons within their catchment area.

In the modern empire, a traveller may encounter any of these. However, certain patterns will predominate in certain areas. Much of the empire sees little or no movement and is very settled, having little requirement for temporary accommodation, and no experience of drinking in the company of strangers or paying guests. In such places travellers may be offered hospitality for gratis. Equally they may well be shunned or reported to the authorities as an ‘unusual occurrence’.

Travelling ilin are likely to be accommodated by the ilin through whose lands they travel. However in a large conurbation, they are equally likely to be lost in the crowd and to require a public house of some kind.

Funduq

In the middle kingdoms there was no tradition of social drinking. However trade between communities was possibly greater than anywhere else at that time. To accommodate the large caravans each town, sometimes even large villages would have a funduq. There would be a saha, or courtyard, a large open space suitable for the ordering of large numbers of wagons and beasts of burden. On one side would be the funduq, a large plain and unadorned square compound with a large door, normally this would be a double door, large enough to allow one or two wagons through at a time[1] . The interior of the funduq would be a paved open courtyard. Around all four walls would be stalls and stables for the animals of the caravans. Above this would be simple lodgings for the persons travelling in the caravans. Their wagons would be parked up on the paved courtyard. There would be another set of doors opposite those that open onto the saha, these would normally open onto the local souq or qissaria[2] .

The saha would be on the very edge of town, often large enough to allow two or more caravans to either muster for their onward journey or organise their way into the funduq. Sometimes the town would grow around the funduq and saha until they were both within the urban area. As these places were essential to the economy of the town they invariably survived any redevelopment happening elsewhere.

Although a modest toll for it’s use may be levied, the funduq has no master, it is provided by the community in order to attract caravans and travellers to the town where they will then spend their money. In the modern era they are often part of the crown estate and maintained by the local lord. However, some communities still maintain their own funduq, believing it cheaper than one supported by taxation and well worth the effort.

Occasionally a wealthy individual will fund a funduq himself and also cause inns, hostels or taverns to be built nearby. In order for the original purpose[3] of these places to be preserved and to limit the commercial advantage, there are imperial laws regarding funduq. The saha must be the full width of the funduq and cover at least the same area, plus half that space again. There maybe doors in the funduq into adjoining public buildings however in the wall facing the saha there may only be the main gate. In the wall opposite that there may only be the souq gate.

Theatres, Dance Halls and Gin Palaces

Very large towns and most cities will have venues for public entertainment. High theatre, real works of art featuring professional entertainers such as Pesudo-Gwaithor[4] or Oeridian Opera, is well supported in Veluna. Elsewhere it may tour, taking over the venues of more prosaic entertainment. Large opera houses have space for many musicians to rotate through as they do for oeridian pieces. There will be stage and a gallery from which the wealthy can witness the performance. There will be bleachers in place, preventing the occupation of the building for any other use other than as a showcase for performance art.

Popular in many large towns are halls where musicians who would otherwise be bothering people in the streets and ale-houses play various types of music. Here the urban sophisticates with leisure time unheard of in the fields and villages, come for their entertainment. A large, comparatively well lit hall will allow a hundred or more people to dance whilst the bands await their turn in a sort of raised cloister from which they will also woo the crowd with their tunes. Of course these are not scheduled performances, they depend on the itinerant (or perhaps resident or local) musicians putting on performances. A manager, who charges both performers and the dancing public for admission, runs the hall[5] . The musicians then make their crust from the generosity of the crowd, this often means a good dancing tune, rather than a display of musical genius.

Elsewhere there will be a smaller venue with a bar and a stage where patrons go to enjoy a relaxing drink and watch other people do their dancing for them. Earlier on in the evening the exhibition dances will be technical examples of the dancer’s art. As the night matures the dances may become risqué perhaps. On occasions it may be possible to gain entrance when the dances are positively lewd. These establishments are, perhaps unsurprisingly, possibly more widespread than either theatres or Dance Halls. The drinks tend to be on the pricey side and you’ll probably be charged an entrance fee.

[1] Allowing simultaneous traffic in and out of the funduq. Caravan owners are not renowned for their patience.
[2] A souq is an open market where the stalls are exposed to the elements. A qissaria is a covered or closed market. It will be protected from the elements and possibly, depending on it’s management/ownership protected from the riff raff and hoi paloi as well.
[3] To provide inexpensive shelter for travellers, thereby encouraging trade and commerce.
[4] high elven
[5] On behalf of his financial backers. Most Dance Hall managers are frustrated ex-musicians.


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