A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

expectations of abundance

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 22, 2009

I’ve written before about the mysterious ebbs and flows that characterized the stock on Beirut’s grocery store shelves – not to mention its Starbucks. The staples – locally produced goods – were always there, but imported or even semi-imported goods would sometimes disappear for ages. (Sietske has written about this as well, as has my aunt – apparently its a region-wide phenomenon.) When the shops were out of my favorite tea:


I would whine to myself for a while – but in the end, I would be fine.

Americans are, as the saying goes, spoiled for choice. We expect abundance in our mega-grocery stores, and we expect uninterrupted availability of our favorite brands. If a store carries product x by brand y, we expect the store to have it in stock all the time – and when it doesn’t, we expect an explanation and a re-stock within 24 hours (or a coupon to take away the pain). I never did get a coupon in Beirut, but I did get something better: the chance to develop a bit of consumer maturity.

There are no big-box stores in my current neighborhood, so – much as in Beirut – I shop for groceries at three smaller, local shops, each with a different selection of goods. From one I buy produce; from another, bread; and from the third, the staples: milk, yogurt, pasta, tea, etc.

But since Wednesday, my staple store has been yogurt-less. Well, there are a few lingering single-serve containers of fruit-flavored yogurt, but the two/three brands that the store carries in larger sizes have disappeared.

I thought nothing of it on Wednesday. On Thursday, I began to wonder. And yesterday, I asked the store owner when they would be getting more.

He gave me a look I know well from shopping in Beirut: a look that says: we carry yogurt [or whatever product has gone missing?

The yogurt that’s usually in the dairy section? I say, smiling awkwardly and putting an inept question-mark at the end of my sentence.

In the end, we agreed that the store does carry yogurt and that more will be in soon. And, as in Beirut, I whined to myself for a while – but in the end, I was fine :).


2 Responses to “expectations of abundance”

  1. qussa said

    Ah, St. Dalfour… they only have the organic green tea version at Idriss at the moment – and they moved it from the tea section to the ‘health food’ section. Guess how I know 🙂

  2. intlxpatr said

    Are you sitting down? The Starbucks in Kuwait was out of COFFEE! Not the kind they brew and serve, but the kind they sell to customers, you know, beans. LOL!

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