Grocery shopping

Your typical rainbow-coloured hole-in-the-wall shop.

There are no supermarkets in Hargesia. There aren’t really any grocery stores either, at least as we know them. If you want to buy food, you either go to the market, or one of the ubiquitous corner shops which are colourfully painted on the outside to advertise their wares.

Don’t get your hopes up too much, though, because usually half the items that are painted on the shop front aren’t actually available for sale inside. The selection is pretty limited and every hole-in-the-wall shop sells essentially the same staples.

The shopkeeper sits behind a counter and behind him are shelves that reach to the ceiling, stocked with the likes of canned goods, bottled condiments, and boxed soap. You tell the man what you want and he picks it out for you. If you ask for something like sugar or flour or salt, you order it by the kilo or half kilo, and it will come to you in a flimsy plastic bag.

Some of the gas stations have fancier shops wher you can browse the shelves yourself; this is probably the closest it comes to western-style grocery shopping, and the few that exist are on par with a British off-license (except, of course, there is no alcohol). These shops also have some imported food products, and you can buy things like butter or milk or cereal which you can’t get elsewhere (yes, you read that correctly, all of the above can be considered speciality items).

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