Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Adventures at the Market

A coworker and I went down to the Arab market today to buy pita, eggs, and chicken stock. I shop at least twice a week so I've gotten to know the shop owners and they know what I want before I even ask. For example, we always buy pita in bags of 10. This is a small annoyance to the pita guy, so he always groans (with a smile) when I walk in and ask for 200 pieces of pita.
But back to today, we drove down to the markets. My coworker usually parks along the sidewalk and then stays with the car. Since it doesn't take me very long to get everything he tries to stay close by. But technically you're not allowed to park there, only drop off supplies or pick things up. Sometimes the police roll in and start handing out tickets to cars sitting by the side of the road. When this happens there is a whole bunch of shouting and a bunch of shop owners quickly moving their cars. We've learned it's better if he just waits so that he can just roll away if necessary.
So I walked in and grabbed the pita then headed to the egg shop. My coworker decided to do a lap around the block rather than just hang out. So after I get the food I go looking for him. On one arm I have two bags with 100 pieces of pita, and then in the other arm I'm carrying four flats of eggs, each with 2 dozen eggs. My coworker later told me I looked like the statue of liberty, waltzing down the sidewalk. But I did attract a fair amount of attention, which is understandable. The men sitting outside their shops, playing chess, don't often see young western women carrying tons of food down the street. But I quickly found the car and went back to find chicken stock. I looked, but everything in Hebrew and Arabic, so I gave up and went looking for the car.
I thought my coworker had done another lap around the block since I didn't see my car. But then this car with a crowd of Arab men honked at me. Normally, I would ignore this since it's not unusual and the best thing to do is pretend you don't hear it, but I happened to glance over and realized... that was our car! My coworker is sitting in the drivers seat, there is a young man in the passengers seat, another in the back seat, and five to ten more crowded around the far side of our car.
At this point, a million thoughts run through my brain, but I realize I have no choice but to walk towards the car. Awkward. Really awkward. That's all I'm gonna say.
So I'm wondering what I'm going to do. I don't really want to get in the backseat, but I didn't know why the guys were in our car.... I find out later they had just walked over, started a conversation through the window with my friend and then two of them had hopped in. He, unsure of what was going, tried to carry on a one sided conversation in English while they kept talking to him in Arabic. So as I get closer to the car, he leans over and opens the passenger door, signaling the Arab to get out. He slides out of the door and I get in and quickly close the door. At this point, every guy outside of the car starts leaning in our windows. "Hiiiiiii.... What's your name?" "So, they didn't have the chicken stock. Let's go." I reply instead to my coworker. Only one problem. We still have a visitor in the back of the car.
Oh well, better to get away from the crowd. We start to pull away and make it up the street. Our visitor in the back is keeping up a steady stream of Arabic. We are trying to explain we are headed home and will not drop him off anywhere. He starts asking for shekels. We refuse. He gets out of the car. Whew. Another man walks up and tries to sell us a Qur'an. We say no. He and the other guy start talking. The light turns green, and we finally get away. Definitely one of my more awkward experiences at the market. Let's hope those guys find something better to do with their time.

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