Thursday, 26 September 2013

Shopping with my sister

can be frustrating but it is always interesting. We have been trying to coincide for several weeks so that she, being the owner of a vehicle, could take me to the sort of Greek owned warehouse where we do the heavier shopping. They have things in bulk and things in bulk that are unavailable in other places - and things that are difficult to find or not available in other places.
She phoned just before lunch and suggested going after I had fed the Senior Cat. Right. I would have to do catch up later but I thought it was time to get the trip out of the way. We went. 
The building is a gigantic shed, about the size of a small aircraft hangar. It is piled high with domestic size and catering size containers and packets of everything from olives and gherkins, dried fruit and pasta, flours and tomato paste to cleaning materials. We got a trolley and I pushed it up and down the aisles while she loaded it with the staples we had come for.
The haloumi cheese? (Her family eats bucket loads of it.) No, she told me, we would go elsewhere for that - yet another warehouse. Right.
It is paid for and I set off to the vehicle with the loaded trolley. I thought she was following. No. This capital city is small enough that of course she met someone she knew. I waited. I waited some more.
Eventually she arrived at the vehicle. We unload the trolley and return it to the bay. We go to the warehouse which sells the cheese. We buy the cheese - and more olives. We pick up some empty cartons to pack some books at the same time. No, they won't mind how many we take. They hope to get rid of them - recycle them! Yes, we will.
Then we head off again. This time it is to the wholesale meat store.
Inside there are two women from Sudan. We smile. The younger one speaks some English. The older one has only a few words. The younger one however is trying to explain something to the butcher. He does not understand. My sister does. (She knows a great deal more about meat cuts than I do.) She interrupts with a smile and a question and then explains.
Somehow that makes the four of us instant friends. The older woman tries to use her English. I know how to say two things in her likely language, Dinka. Cautiously I use one of them "kudual"  - it means "hello" or "I greet you". Suddenly we are the very best of friends.
Meat is bought by them and paid for and, before they leave, we are hugged. Westerners would never have done that but it came naturally from them and it felt right.
I use the only other thing I know it means "yin aca leec" - it means "thankyou".  I get hugged again.
I was taught those two things by another Sudanese refugee woman years ago. They were the only words she taught me and I had no idea I could even remember them. I doubt I would have in any other circumstances. I certainly had to look up the spelling
So few words can make so much difference.


Helen Devries said...

I would love to have access to these warehouses again..we used to shop on the grand scale when visiting Belgium as we could not have access to them in France.
And yes, even a few words are so important. My husband was in South Africa years ago and was struggling with explaining what he wanted in English. An Afrikaaner said to him...with your name you must know Dutch...he tried in the dialect he had picked up from his granny in Belgium - and it was almost word for word Afrikaans.
Start of a lot of friendships.

widdershins said...

I'd never experienced these 'warehouses' until I came here ... they are HUGE!!! ... and fun :D