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Sunday, December 18

With Or Against?

"I went mad. I imagined the modern operation of buying and selling when the supermarket was finished. A housewife would come with a plastic carrying basket for vegetables. She would enter the door of the magnificent building in complete silence since whispering is the language of sophisticated people. The woman would push a small metal cart with two tiers through the aisles of the supermarket choosing what she wanted from the canned meats, vegetables, fruit, ghee, cheese, butter, soap, coffee, sugar, tea, and jam. Confidence would be absolute in this sophisticated place. Nobody steals. Nobody bargains. No tomato is bigger than another. No apple is unripe, or spoiled, no unsanitary open can of ghee, no open tin of cheese, no tin of cream, no pottery bowl of yoghurt, no leather pouch of cottage cheese. On each container would be a fixed price to save the time spent bargaining by an elegant buyer and a gentleman salesperson. The woman would count the number of pieces at the end and write out the bill like someone who didn't know how to speak. The employee would play on the calculator like a dumb-mute and from behind the cash register accept the money with a stern face. There would be no conversation in that place, which was totally convenient for everyone."

Taken from Siham Tergeman: Daughter of Damascus, English version by Andrea Rugh, Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, 1994.


  • Not a big fan of supermarkets myself. They are convenient, but the description you provided outlines some of the problems with such "classy" places.
    I'm old fashioned.

    By Blogger Omar, at 18/12/05 10:24 AM  

  • may be all centers are like each other, but this one seems to be the town center, isn't it?

    I can remember it from the chocolate on your left hand!

    By Blogger Majd, at 18/12/05 10:02 PM  

  • wowwwwwwww creepy ...
    actually i prefer full of life markets .... 3almaksar ya battiekh

    By Blogger GraY FoX, at 20/12/05 1:56 PM  

  • lovely post, its a shame the once very lively arab supermarkets are becoming so western like.

    By Blogger Sabri Hakim, at 20/12/05 11:15 PM  

  • In the US farmers markets are becoming popular. The produce they grow for the supermarkets can't compare in taste to what the small farmers grow.
    I loved to shop in the street markets when I've traveled. Supermakets lose the human interaction that the street markets have.
    An American

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 31/1/06 12:57 PM  

  • I second that....I may be a conservative American, but I hate westernization.

    American culture is pathetic in a lot of ways. I am proud of my country in a lot of ways, but there are also a lot of ways in which I'm embarrassed by it.

    I've never been to an Arab country but I really want to! I would love to visit an Arab market someday. I'm sure it's beautiful

    By Blogger Soy Peruano, at 31/1/06 2:50 PM  

  • I can't imagine life without supermarkets... I am a professional teacher, a mother of a 2 year old and a full-time student. With my life, I couldn't imagine having to go to a half a dozen places to shop for groceries... Middle Class Americans do not have the luxury of leisure time...there are tons of people like me that don't have time to stop and talk/haggle/barter- If businesses in my area aren't convenient, they are usually out of business...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 31/1/06 4:44 PM  

  • [i]Middle Class Americans do not have the luxury of leisure time...[/i]

    As a Middle Class American, I would rather say that Middle Class Americans have too much 'stuff' to have leisure time. They/We need to pay for all our stuff which means working, usually both parents, and long hours instead of living inside a respectable level, having just enough, and having time left over to enjoy it.

    As an American woman, my 'dream' for my life when/if I get married is to not work away from the home, but to raise my children and homeschool them, have a garden, sew clothing for me and my family, and do other things that people have shunned in recent generations in this country.

    The culture we lose is lost through our need for more 'stuff' and more money, not because we don't have time. We have just as much time in a day as every other person on this earth, we just squander ours.

    By Anonymous elengil, at 31/1/06 6:46 PM  

  • zA perfect examble of the modern way of living, emotionaly diconnected.physically unaware of our inner sences..withdrown into an empty shell,rusting away our social strength.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 31/1/06 8:27 PM  

  • I don’t see why it’s necessarily westernization that is at fault here. Just because the company or idea originated in the west doesn’t mean it is the west imposing on the east or Middle East. Consumers create demand and while we might have different colored skin and different languages we are all human consumers. We all want the same thing more leisure time to spend however we wish. So I think if there is a problem here it is with human nature and not the west imposing its will on everyone else.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 31/1/06 8:34 PM  

  • No offense to the progressive readers that are looking to the future out there, but to the rest of you on here all I have seen is people talking about living in the "stone age". You are entitled to live the way you choose, such as Quakers and such here in America, but while everyone else is moving forward you are too busy complaining about it. Get with the program.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 31/1/06 8:36 PM  

  • elengil:
    I don't have a lot of "stuff"...as you speak of in your reply. I live in a very economically depressed state where everyone is one pink slip from poverty- I haven't had a vacation in years... I have no savings account... I haven't bought new clothes in years... I am in debt because the only teaching job I could find was one that I wasn't certified for; therefore, I had to go take more classes to simply have a job- Give me a freaking GIANT break on me wanting to have "stuff"... I hope with you, that "stuff" includes: diapers, gasoline, food, utilities, and medicine/doctor's bills because that is where my HARD-EARNED paycheck goes. You need a reality check, honey.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/2/06 12:50 AM  

  • You'll note I specified "middle-class".. which it does not sound as if you fall into, sadly.

    I was not insulting you in any way, I was speaking about middle-class Americans.

    So please do not insult me in return by implying I've no sense of what a hard-earned paycheck means.

    By Anonymous elengil, at 1/2/06 5:33 AM  

  • elengil:
    Our income is considered Middle Class; so how does your "theory" fit now? What... you can't be middle class and have a million bills that are not considered "luxuries...???" ... get a clue. Your idea about Middle class are not accurate.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/2/06 11:18 PM  

  • Our income is considered Middle Class; so how does your "theory" fit now? ...get a clue.

    I wasn't speaking about you personally nor was I insulting you. You have insulted me twice now.

    This is not a forum for people to bash one another, I was stating an opinion, you chose to take offense and reply in insult.

    Since this is not the proper place for this type of discussion anyway, I will not reply to anything more you say on the matter.

    By Anonymous elengil, at 2/2/06 6:36 AM  

  • Everyone has their own limitations. I would just like to quote Waking Life, not in criticism of anyone, but because I like it.

    "...it's time to stand up and realize that we should not allow ourselves to be crammed into this rat maze. We should not submit to dehumanization. I don't know about you, but I'm concerned with what's happening in this world. I'm concerned with the structure. I'm concerned with the systems of control, those that control my life and those that seek to control it even more! I want freedom! That's what I want! And that's what you should want!
    It's up to each and every one of us to turn loose and show them the greed, the hatred, the envy, and yes, the insecurities because that is the central mode of control - make us feel pathetic, small so we'll willingly give up our sovereignty, our liberty, our destiny. We have got to realize that we're being conditioned on a mass scale. Start challenging this corporate slave state! The 21st Century is going to be a new century, not the century of slavery, not the century of lies and issues of no significance and classism and statism and all the rest of the modes of control! It's going to be the age of humankind standing up for something pure and something right!
    What a bunch of garbage - liberal Democrat, conservative Republican. It's all there to control you. Two sides of the same coin. Two management teams bidding for control! The C.E.O. job of Slavery, Incorporated! The truth is out there in front of you, but they lay out this buffet of lies. I'm sick of it, and I'm not going to take a bite out of it! Do you got me? Resistance is not futile. We're gonna win this thing. Humankind is too good! We're not a bunch of underachievers! We're gonna stand up and we're gonna be human beings! We're gonna get fired up about the real things, the things that matter: creativity and the dynamic human spirit that refuses to submit! Well that's it! That's all I got to say! It's in your court."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/2/06 12:25 PM  

  • First I would like to note that such supermarkets still not that popular in Syria, in addition to the fact that its prices is higher than other market places, anyway I’m personally with it since it don’t make me to jump from place to place to buy grocery and cans…etc and makes me save time, but on one condition, is to have a similar prices with other markets,
    Here is a link to a street market in Damascus that is full with life: Click here

    @ Elengil , I hope ur dream to come true soon, it is nice, I bet luck your children will be ;-) , I got from ur first comment is that, it’s up to us have a leisure time if we want it and we stop looking for more unnecessary stuffs? In addition to the fact that there are some stuffs meant to facilitate our life and save our time, am I right?

    Finally thank you all for sharing your opinions, they are well appreciated.

    By Blogger Ghalia, at 2/2/06 12:39 PM  

  • Ghalia,

    I have been to Arab markets in the Middle East, Souk's I believe they were called, and nothing will ever quite compare to the experience. It is something I had wanted to do since I was a little girl and I was absolutely giddy to be able to do it just a few years ago.

    Somewhat in contrast to what I said above, there is one instance in which I will choose to pay more for something and that is the grocery store I shop at. I buy from a co-operative which carries locally grown produce instead of being a huge chain that imports foods from all over.

    We have some things brought in that won't grown in my climate, but mostly the foods are all local foods and while it costs a bit more, I prefer to put my money into my community instead and I feel that the quality of the food I get makes it worth it.

    But I still remember walking through the Souk and how much I would love to do it again someday.

    By Anonymous elengil, at 2/2/06 7:20 PM  

  • Supermarkets are a natural result of large cities with many people crammed into a small geographical area. I do like growing some of my own vegetables and buying at farmer's markets but there is a lot to be said for supermarkets. I can go into almost any large chain supermarket, in any state in the US and the quality, selection, customer care, sanitation, rules regarding returning unsuitable merchandise and so on will be of a uniform quality.

    I remember many tales of my family members when they first arrived from Cuba going to their first supermarket and crying in shock from the abundance of goods.

    I am also unaccustomed to bargaining so I would not do well in an open market where the price is by negotiation. :)

    My wife was born in Mexico and they too used the street market though these have been disappearing as well.

    I think that supermarkets are good, but small markets can still survive by focusing on fresh produce and variety -for example many supermarkets carry two or three types of tomatoe and peppers because the price at which they buy depends on large volumes. Small markets can compete by offering varities that the big supermarkets don't carry.

    By Anonymous bupaje, at 3/2/06 12:17 AM  

  • great;)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/2/06 1:33 AM  

  • It's interesting to think of a land where both types of culture somewhat coexist. Where people have the choice of enjoying the convenience of a supermarket or enjoying the lower prices and more intimate qualities of seperate places.
    I think many people feel of Western culture in terms of "Black and White." Where it is either imposing too much on other societies and creating conflict, or it is not being spread nearly enough. Few have tried to understand the delicate balance that some Westernization can be useful, while still preserving the original culture of the area.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/2/06 3:00 AM  

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