Quote

"Keep working on a plan. Make no little plans. Make the biggest you can think of, and spend the rest of your life carrying it out." Harry S. Truman

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Shopping in a new country

The last update on my Facebook page goes : I miss Q Mart !!! Q Mart is the supermarket where we found pretty much everything we needed in terms of foods, cleaning supplies, etc, during our six years in India. It was our regular supermarket. I know. How more pathetic can it get, right? And yet...

When we arrived in Hyderabad, Q Mart was on the second floor of an ugly, small building, a little place crowded with dusty, overflowing shelves. But then, it moved across the street, and became this shiny, two floors, luminous supermarket where we found new surprises almost every week.

Adios India. Hello Bangladesh. On my first day alone, the driver took me to the places where expats do their grocery shopping. I looked around, was not overly impressed, but as we were staying at the hotel, and I was in my newcomer-eyes-wide-open-honeymoon phase, I didn't look too closely. There didn't seem to be much in terms of cheese, apart from the same old imported Cheddar, and some canned brie or camembert from Denmark, but, oh well. We'd survive.

Then, a couple of days ago, I realized that if we are to camp out in our almost empty apartment, we need cleaning supplies in order to scrub the place properly before, and once we move in. And so, here I am back at the supermarket, standing in the aisle, looking at bottles of pink, blue, green and yellow liquids with labels written in an alphabet I can't read, wondering how I will know which one is the floor cleaner, and where are the brushes, and I don't see the dishwashing sponges, and everything looks so foreign I feel a big lump in my throat. Of course, it's not a big deal.  I, the seasoned expat who's been there, done that, know that, and because I know it, I breath deeply and go in search of a basket. I can't find one, but they have small carts, the type that children love to push in supermarkets.

I take it back to the aisle, return to the row of shelves, grab a bottle at random, and unscrew the tap to smell the content. Well, yes, if I'm not going to know what I'm using, at least, it's got to smell good! A few people stare at me, probably wondering why I'm spending so much time in that aisle, and what on earth am I doing, anyway, sniffing all these bottles? I start filling the small cart, and each time I touch it, some sticky stuff remains on my fingers. I wipe it on my pants, thinking I will empty the jar of antibacterial gel as soon as I reach the car. Finally, I walk to the cashier, and honestly, I'm not feeling so hot, and that's when I see a separate shelf carrying the pink bottles of Lysol that I used in India ! I take one and feel like kissing it. It's like I just got reunited with a long lost friend.

Of course, I still have to find buckets, and a broom, and a mop...

I ended up visiting a couple more shops before I got everything I needed, and you understand, now, why I say that I miss Q Mart? Who wants to spend more than two hours shopping for cleaning supplies? Then again, once I know my way around a little better, I won't waste all that time, and by then, I'll know that I'm home - meaning a place where I've lived long enough to know where to find the barest necessities.

4 comments:

Nandini said...

Oh, Katia! Hang in there as you look for everything from cleaning supplies to cheese. Love the pictures and stories you've been posting of your new adventures in Dhaka. Hope the girls are settling in and making friends. That broom looks like the standard Indian broom though. I sometimes miss the thing here in the U.S.!!

Katia said...

The jaru (spelling?) Nandini. I was so happy when I asked for one, and they understood me. Maybe we could exchange? You send me some cheese, I send you a jaru :)

Nandini said...

Yes, the Jharu!! I like it better than the plastic bristle brooms here. I don't think it would make it through customs though ... :)

Uma Krishnaswami said...

Oh my, that jharu! Thodappam in Tamil. I miss that thing. It can reach corners that you simply can't get to with anything else. Lovely to hear from you, Katia.