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Notes from Lapta, Cyprus – Shopping 2 by Ken Dunn

If I can avoid ‘shopping’ I will but that’s not always possible, not really. So, if I have to do it, shop that is, there is one important task I always perform first. That is ‘the drawing up of the list’. Every male needs one. Without a list we’re doomed. Come on, chaps. Admit it. Gentlemen are not like Ladies in this particular domestic area in that we cannot walk around any shop knowing exactly what to buy for the household without having a written list to work from and check it as we amble around.

A list simplifies everything. You don’t have to wander aimlessly around trying to remember what to buy and the list helps to prevent you ending up with a trolley full of ‘chockie delights’, ‘wondrous devices for the lavatory’ or any of the other spur of the moment rubbish. We mere males need some sympathy here.

But then I’m probably not the only one, male or female, who can be found shambling around any supermarket trying to find ‘things’. Why do they keep moving ‘things’ around? One week ‘it’s’ there, next week ‘it’s’ somewhere else. Do the markets do this deliberately to confuse and annoy all of us or is it a devious ploy to ensure we traverse every gangway so that we might buy something else? Probably.

Anyway, shopping can be extremely boring. No, let me say that a little more accurately. Shopping IS extremely boring or is there something I’m missing? I don’t think so. To prove this point needs only the observation of married punters walking around to find the male, subservient, pushing the trolley along, down cast, bored rigid behind the female. The female, on the other hand checks right and left, gimlet eyed, checking prices to several decimal places and pulling stuff off the shelf with the supreme confidence of knowing ‘it’s’ the right thing and without a second thought.

Then there are the hazards of little kids running around all over the place trying to commit suicide by colliding into oncoming trolleys pushed by any hapless shopper, usually me! The parents of these random, small, erratic, human projectiles seem to be totally oblivious of their effect on innocent shoppers but there are the rare, and highly satisfying occasions, when a ‘right good slap’ is applied to right the wrongs of their offspring. After all that there is always the guarantee of a substantial queue at the check out. Oh, Joy!

And here’s a little tangent of observation for the moment. Years ago, in an old supermarket in Lapta, long before all the other newer ones arrived, I was pushing this squeaky framework of an ‘open wheeled birdcage’ around and noticed the small maker’s plate on which I read, ‘Clares Equipment’. Every one of the trolleys had the same plate. It just so happens that that manufacturer, fortunately hidden behind a line of mature trees, is about sixty yards from our house in the South West of the UK. It’s a small world! But I suspect that can be classified as ‘Information – useless.’

But wandering around these halls of retail delight I often think back to those more primitive times in the UK when we had to queue up for ages inside a tiny shop, squashed up with several others, all waiting to be served by someone who didn’t want to be here in the first place. We knew our place then, did we not? And there was the good old Co-op. Mahogany counters wide enough to prevent the miserable, dismissive staff from being thumped by the miserable impatient customers, air powered change machinery, broken biscuit barrels, blue packets of sugar and regular ‘divi’. How things have changed.

So, back from further reverie and another observation. In the larger Yapi markets a complete ‘role reversal’ of male and female takes place. Mr will march around the shelves plucking out and collecting the vital parts, devices and equipment for all the jobs around the villa he’ll be nagged, or will be, into doing. Mrs will ponder over tiles, muse over which colour paint to buy or even the possibility of new kitchen surfaces. Mr will then suck through his teeth, as all ‘artisans’ do, advising that this or that is totally inappropriate to their needs. It’s all good fun to watch, well, sometimes.

Apart from general shopping I have had a couple of odd situations in attempting to buy sun beds for the house and then electrical goods, each being in two very different venues. The sun bed situation was complicated by simple forgetfulness on my part. I’d left my wallet at home. I’d found two sun beds in a shop in the village, ideal for what we wanted, and said I’d come back with the cash later that day. ‘No, no!’ said the shop keeper, a huge grin on his face. ‘You take. You take! Pay me later! Izz tamam, tamam!’ Now, there’s trusting! ‘But what if I don’t come back?’ I asked him. He looked me straight in the eye and just said, slowly, ‘I know where you live!’ And he probably did!

The second instance happened when I walked into one of the well known electrical showrooms around Girne, by the name of ‘Arçelik’. Now there’s an unfortunate name if ever I’ve seen one. Without recognising the cedilla under the ‘c’ the incorrect pronounciation of the name could lead to some misunderstanding of what they actually purvey. This is further complicated by the fact that the group under which they trade is known as ‘Koç Holding’ and the website for the organisation sports the title of, wait for it, ‘www.arçelikas’! Absolutely true, but oh dear, they really should change all that.

Back to the plot and the Arçelik showroom. I was looking for, and found, a new vacuum cleaner to replace the slight asthmatic older one we had and another fan for upstairs in the house. So far, so good. But then we had a power cut. That meant that they couldn’t use their till and I couldn’t use my plastic. What to do? Same answer as in the sun bed scenario. ‘Iz tamam! Please take. Come back tomorrow.’

Now, this time I knew they ‘didn’t know where I lived’ and said I’d leave the stuff until I could pay for it the following day. They wouldn’t have that at all and insisted that I should take it so, I did. But it happened to be a particularly bad week for power cuts and I although I tried to pay on five separate occasions after that I wasn’t able to do so for well over a week! Now that’s trust, isn’t it? On reflection I could have ‘bought’ all kinds of stuff, loaded it into the car and disappeared into the labyrinth of Lapta never to be seen again and they would have been happy to have allowed it!

So, all in all, I don’t really gripe about shopping over here, it’s that much more ‘interesting’ than it will ever be in the UK! Happy days. Think I’ll have a cup of tea. Oh dear. None left. I’ll have to go shopping then, won’t I, eh?

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