Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Shopping is a Process

I am on spring break and have been enjoying sleeping in, reading, falling asleep reading in the middle of the day, checking FB, working on an update, learning how to bargain with salesmen with my roommate
(which buying items here is another story, it's not easy.... you walk in and you see something you like and the salesman walks up and asks you how you are doing about four times and then he tells you they will give you a good you ask the salesman how much the item costs and the price is really high, so we then have to say I can't pay that much for this item and then they begin to ask us a series of questions "Where are you from? How long have you been here?" which means they are trying to size us up and see if we really can pay the quoted price. We then say we will think about it and come back, and they say "name your price" and after a while of offering a lower price and bargaining while casually mentioning that we aren't tourists but live in this town and want to support the local economy, there's a long pause, a little silence and a few blank stares, then the salesman will either say "ok" take the item and put it in a bag or he will give you a story about the quality of the product and how he's really giving you a deal by offering a discount at all...... the salesmen can very moody sometimes, but most times we are able to make a joke and laugh with them by using our developing Arabic skills and seal the makes me miss the Western just walk in get what you need and go on to finish whatever else you have on your agenda for the day.....but in a way there's something special about having to have conversations at length about a purchase (unless of course the salesman is trying to hit on you or your roommate)....everything here is about relationships.

Everything takes time and a conversation (sometimes cordial and sometimes combative) but all in all it's an experience and a moment to understand a little bit more about what makes living here so special. You can' t walk away from a business transaction without knowing more about the other persons life and 'story' that you are interacting with and each time you stop to get fruit or buy a sweater the exchange begins again. Every person has a unique 'story' that explains who they are, who they belong to/with, how they make a living, what they believe, how they see themselves,etc and I find seeing a glimpse of this 'story' quite intriguing. I really believe that if we take long enough to hear the 'story' of others lives we might just learn how to show them a little more consideration and love, knowing that we too have a 'story'. I hope that I can begin telling some of these stories as soon as I manage to slow down amidst the hectic schedules and meetings to make time in order to have enough pieces of a story to share. Maybe I can start by writing my own 'story'. Ah ha.....Now I have a new task for spring break.....never thought shopping would make me reflect so deeply.