An expat friend of mine shared one of her recent grocery shopping experiences with me and it gives me pleasure that I can also share it with American Bedu readers. Grocery shopping in Saudi Arabia can be an adventure! One always likes to be on the lookout for new grocery stores which may offer goods that other stores do not have.
Some of the things that I have enjoyed in the Saudi grocery stores that you do not find as much in the Western world is the willingness of store employees to allow one to try many samples before deciding what (if anything) to buy. A shopper can ask for samples of cheese, olives, candies, spices, deli meats. In most cases, the sample is a generous portion. Additionally, it is not uncommon to see a shopper open a package or a drink during their shopping either for themselves or a child. No one will question and the shopper will pay for the items consumed at the checkout counter. This is especially popular if one gets caught in a grocery store during prayer time and has to remain in the store until prayer is over.
We went to the new mall “Riyadh Avenue” – it has a Lulu grocery store. I don’t know if there are other Lulu’s? This one opened last fall I think.
One of the things I like about shopping here is the fresh fruits and vegetables. I love picking out a pineapple and watching the “pineapple man” cut it up and prepare it for you to take home and eat fresh.
Lulu’s has a “Coconut Scraping” window! You pick your coconut from the table and take it to one of the arched windows in the brick wall. Kind of like little teller windows, one labeled “Ladies” and one labelled “Gents”. One of the other side of this wall is a man with a machine which cores out the coconut and shreds it and spews it out into a plastic bag. He applies a price sticker and hands it back to you through the opening in the wall.
My husband and I arrived to find two men in the Ladies line and two men in the Gents line! We have a system in this kind of situation! If it looks like a situation where I can get something done faster than he could, I will separate from him and do this independently. We had both sized up the situation from afar and began to walk separately. I picked out a coconut and just slowly inched a little bit towards the Ladies line, not too near as to be impolitely near strange men. (smile) When the two men in the Ladies’ line saw me, they moved back a little, but didn’t get out of the line. Then the man behind the wall yelled at them and told them to get in the men’s line. They quietly complied, keeping their distance from me.
I went up to the window and the coconut man took my coconut, shredded it and handed it back to me, all before the men who had been waiting in line! Not fair? Of course not, but neither is…..( fill in the blank – you have many choices!). If my husband had done this, he would have had to wait for the first four men. Some little perks you just have to enjoy here…..