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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Afternoon Shopping in Egypt, Monday, 11/10/08

(part of a series of posts describing the occupancy of our winter place in
Cairo, Egypt)

We are looking for a few basics for the apartment, today. First on the list is a trip to MASTERBED in Mohandessein. Mohandessein has an upscale shopping area with Benneton, Gap, Barclay's and the like. And, of course, local favorites like Arsenal (a shoe store!) Love Man etc.

Earlier, friends had directed us to MASTERBED for a comfortable mattress. The locals here favor what could charitably be called a “very firm” style. Terry and Linda have earlier selected a pair of twin beds for the guest room and delivery is scheduled for Wednesday – provided we complete payment before 5 pm today. Also coming is a box spring to fit beneath our previously acquired queen mattress.

We make it with time to spare and then we are off to a nearby branch of Omar Effendi for appliances and housewares. In some ways, shopping at Omar Effendi is a bit like shopping at a Dayton's or Meier & Frank department store in the 1950s. There are several floors. The ground floor has women's clothing, major appliances and televisions. Housewares and small appliances are on two, furniture is on three. (actually these are ground, one and two here – European style)

Soon we have selected Pasabache tumblers, an electric teapot, and other kitchen necessities. We also pick out a Tecno range, a Kiriazi 12 cu. ft. fridge and a Maxtron 25 inch TV. We each note the peculiarity of cubic feet and inches in a metric country where we may have the only tape measure that is marked in inches and feet.

Making purchases here is a bit different from back home. There are plenty of clerks standing by ready to help with our purchasing. Once we pick out a plate, we tell the clerk that we want four. He carefully peels off the bar code label and attaches it to a multi-part form, multiplies the unit price by four on his calculator and writes the extension on the form. The clerk then tears off the top sheet of the form and hands it to us. At the end of our visit, we havea fistful of these sheets but no merchandise.

At a counter on the main floor, a cashier takes our papers and scans all the bar codes producing a nice itemized receipt. All the merchandise has simultaneously arrived near the front door and is in Omar Effendi bags, ready to take away.

Well, not all the merchandise – the stove, refrigerator and TV will be delivered.

We arrive back at the apartment and an hour later the cell phone rings. The delivery has arrived. Soon two workers have moved the three appliances via the tiny elevator up to our eighth floor apartment. Delivery man one assembles the stove and cautions us not to plug in the fridge for six hours since it has been lying on its side. He also informs us that we are short one brass burner ring but that he has it in the truck. Well, we think these are the messages – a lot of Arabic, much gesturing and our English has led us to these conclusions. I sign the receipt and tip the delivery guys – big mistake!

Signing in Egypt indicates “received complete, everything is just hunky-dory and I am SOL if any problem shows up.” Of course, no fourth burner ring ever appears from “the truck.”

But, at least now we have some furniture. It is best described as:
  • A stove with no gas
  • A TV with no dish, and
  • A Refrigerator with no food

And yes, that range looks a little low versus the counters. Well, perhaps we can have a box built to raise it up. Have we purchased a very short range? No, Linda noticed that all the ranges were this height. Perhaps we have requested tall cabinets? (mystery resolved in a future post)

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