Sunday, June 19, 2005

Retail Therapy

The currency here is the Dirham (pronounced Dur-ham or Dirrim, depending on whether you are a local or an expat) - which is their Rand ... and the fil - which is their cent. However, the coins you see the most are 1Dirham, 50fil and 25fils - less than 25fils is just not worth the botheration, so they simply ignore it. If your groceries add up to xxxDirham and xxxfils, they will probably just round the fils to the nearest Dirham - so you win some, you lose some. You DO actually get 10 and 5 fil pieces, but if you don't want to be walking around with a purse full of useless coins, yu just leave them at the cashier. The few times we have tried to get rid of them by giving handfuls of them to taxi drivers or shopowners have met with a stream of incomprehensible (but definitely rude) Arabic! So now, we avoid these coins like the plague!

Notes are very pretty colours and have Arabic on one side and English on the other. They are worth 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 Dirham. Beware, however, notes above 100 Dirhams seem to self-destruct and somehow completely disappear out of my purse without me being aware of it! At the moment, on Dirham costs about two Rand - so when we see something that looks pretty cheap, we hav eto remember to double the price to get an idea of its real price - which is sometimes quite shocking and always depressing!!

Of course, there are always times when you really, really, really need the consolatin of shopping - there are amazingly big malls with all kinds of shops, including Truworths, Woolworths and Mr Price! Been there, shopped there, paid extravagant prices! If you look really hard, you can find "normal" clothes, but most of the stuff is really weird - VERY bright colours, lots of bows and sequins and lace, the latest here is slashed clothes - everything looks like it has been in a shredder, with long shreds hanging everywhere!

Then thre are the equivalents of our Supermarkets and Hypermarkets. We went on a shopping spree and bought everything form figs to a fridge, from washing powder to a washing machine from the local hyper (called Co-Op here). We saw plates and dishes (plastic) for sale by the kilogram. We saw products from all over the world - furniture from India and Malaysia, meat from New Zealand and Australia, plates from China, Romania and Denmark, and foodstuffs from just about any and everywhere.

We went furniture shopping and were astounded at the over-the-topness of the furniture - obviiously designed for palaces, most of the lounge and bedroom suites made us feel like hobbits in the land of giants. Huge Sleeping Beauty type beds that are almost as tall as us standing next to them, couches that are so wide and high that yur feet don't touch the ground when you sit on them.

There was even a bedroom suite designed like a medieval castle, with a wardrobe that looked like a castle wall! When we went the next day to take a photo - it had been sold!! We struggled and struggled to find a semi-normal type of lounge suite and beds, and then, when they were delivered, they only took up about a quarter of the size of the room, that is obviously why they rather take those huge monstrosities - to fill out the rooms. We now have two lounge suites in our lounge (4 x 3 seater couches) and a recliner chair!!

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