Tag Archives | grocery stores

Saturday’s Snapshot (surat al-sabat): لقطة السبت

It’s hard to avoid “service” in Abu Dhabi. Labor is (disturbingly) cheap and it seems sometimes that there is always someone offering to wash your car, clean your apartment, carry your bags.

But the other day in Lulu (a big grocery store chain here), I saw “service” taken to a new level: a worker unloading a shopper’s grocery cart at the check-out line. She was on the phone, he was plopping things onto the conveyer belt; they both seemed oblivious to one another.

Continue Reading · on November 24, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, Politics, surat al-sabt saturday snapshot, UAE, What’s It Like?

Monday Listicle: Ch-ch-changes…

I have no one to blame but myself. Last week, when Stasha asked me to propose this week’s topic, I thought writing about “changes” would be a good idea. This week, however, after living through a(nother) week of change, I’m wishing the topic this week were “things that are fluffy,” or something like that.

Far be it from me to back off from a challenge, however (or at least, I hate backing off in public. In private, I take the easy route all the time), so I will not write about bunnies, slippers, and cotton balls. I will do like the song says, “turn and face the strain.”

1. On August 12, exactly a month ago, almost to the hour, we landed in Abu Dhabi.  One of the reasons it feels weird to write “Monday’s Listicles,” in fact, is that today (Monday) feels like Tuesday. Sunday is the Monday of the Gulf region. Thursday night is like Saturday night; Friday is like Sunday–the holy day, for those who observe, and Saturday is..well, Saturday is still Saturday.  But Saturday night is like Sunday night, when you finally wade into the pile of work you brought home for the weekend so that you can bring it to the office on Sunday. Confused yet?

2. Pills. Pills are a change that has nothing to do with Abu Dhabi and everything do with–ahem–the aging process. Husband has one of those little daily pill thingys; I have a bottle of thyroid medicine next to the bed so that I remember to take it every morning (on an empty stomach).  Health. Health used to be something I didn’t notice. It’s sort of like money, health: when you have it, you sort of don’t notice it. It’s only in the absence that these things become important.  Husband and I seem pretty healthy, our pills notwithstanding (insert sound of knocking on wood here), but still. We’re in our late mid-forties and conversations with friends frequently go to a discussion of aches, pains, doctors, procedures.

3. Road signs have changed:

4. As have the displays at Ikea (although the furniture remains the same, as does, sadly, the daunting warehouse full of flat brown heavy boxes):

dishdashas hanging in a wardrobe display

5. I am now the mother of a middle-schooler. Which is impossible because just yesterday we brought him home from the NICU at a whopping four pounds.  How is that breadloaf size baby now scrutinizing his hair in the bathroom mirror in the morning and announcing (as he did on the first day of school) that “this year he will be paying a great deal of attention to his grooming.”  I have a child old enough to groom?  That sound you hear is my late-mid-forties slurping down the drain.

6. I live in a place where I can’t find chipotle peppers anywhere but  grocery stores have entire aisles devoted to ghee.

7. Family trips to the grocery store no longer end up in Union Square Park but somewhere a little more…salty:

8. Because my sandals will not be jammed into the back of my closet any time soon, pedicures have become a necessity rather than a luxury.  This is not a bad thing.

9. Caleb had to write a one-sentence clue about himself for a kids-in-the-class crossword puzzle they were doing. He wrote “This is a boy who loves soccer and loves to read.” Last year, at the start of first grade, we had to force him (bribe him, cajole him, wrestle him) to read his allotted thirty minutes a day.  His first-grade teacher won’t ever read this, but THANK YOU, Amy F.!

10. Change is everywhere in our lives, and as we slowly sink into real life, I’m sure there are more Big Changes ahead.  And then, in the face of all that change? Sameness: soccer tryouts started tonight, so there we all were, the soccer parents: chitchatting, phone calling, email checking, BlackBerry toting, cheering for their kids.  Just like home.




Continue Reading · on September 12, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, Children, expat, Monday Listicle, NYC

expat, exefficient

In New York, I moved fast.

I knew how to work the lines at Trader Joe’s on 14th street so that I could be in and out in under 45 minutes; I knocked off my farmer’s market shopping early in the morning, before the shuffling herds came through taking pictures of picturesque radishes. (I took my arty roughage shots in my early morning rounds. I love a pretty beet as much as the next gal.)  Dry cleaning, school trips, doctors’ appointments, work meetings? Done, done, done, and done. I was one efficient Mannahatta Mamma: Things. Got. Done.

Now? Everything has slowed down. Time has blurred into one long hot swirl: our apartment only has one working clock, in the kitchen on the microwave; my phone’s battery is dying and so the clock keeps slipping back to New York time (unless can phones be homesick?) I never know exactly what time it is and even if I did, we don’t have anywhere to be.  The boys haven’t started school, I haven’t started work; it’s Ramadan and a sticky 115 degrees at midday, so the streets are quiet and lots of shops are closed until after sundown.

My sister, who lived for a few years in Paris, told me that the thing about being an expat is that everything takes a lot longer than you’re used to, and she’s absolutely right.  Being new anywhere, of course, means it takes twice as long to do the things you did at home, but the triple whammy of new city + new country + new culture has slowed me practically to a crawl.

So for instance the other day I went to a mall to scope out a store that sells skateboards (yes, Avril, there are sk8rboys in the UAE.)  Caleb has his heart set on a skateboard for his 7th birthday, thanks to the influence of his much-adored fifteen year old cousin Charlie. In a burst of inspiration, I found a skateboard store on a mall website and reminded myself to make sure that the mall was open in the afternoon, despite Ramadan. The mall was open, in fact, so I girded myself for the heat, found a cab, found the mall, found the store.

Which was closed. Mall open, store closed. Closed with no indication about when (or if) it would ever open.  Undaunted, I went to another store, looking for sheets. Closed.

Refusing to admit defeat, I went downstairs to Lulu’s, which is the huge “hypermarket” that is less expensive than Spinney’s (probably because Lulu’s doesn’t have the overhead of maintaining a pork room) and not as overwhelming as Carrefour, which as near as I can tell is a combination of K-Mart and Food Emporium.  Yes, it’s true, there have been any number of grocery store trips in the last week: big grocers are reliably open during Ramadan and I can stay inside playing Hearts with my kids for only so many hours before losing my mind.

So I tell myself that I can do some grocery shopping – get some staples, a few household items, and then I’d head home. I have a list, I like grocery stores, I can do this.

HAH. Continue Reading →

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Continue Reading · on August 21, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, expat, food, NYC, Travel, UAE

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