Monday, July 13, 2009

Quick Trip Downtown Without Pictures

I hope my camera is okay. It was acting up the other day after I tried to get a picture of the Tictac crackers. I put the memory card into the printer to download the picture and the program said, "Memory card is empty." Ahh, no, it isn't either. I just reviewed the two pictures I took. Then I put the memory card back in the camera and the camera window said, "Bad memory card" or something like that. NOOO!! It can't be! Yes, I have another card, but that needs to be erased as soon as I figure out if all of the pictures were downloaded. Problems. Big problems if my camera isn't working any longer. I really wish I would have had it yesterday - but since I didn't...

We have having a cookout / pool party, here, and I wanted to go to Tony Roma's to see if I could get big containers of some of their side dishes so I don't have to make all of the food. We needed to go to Saco to get a hook to hold the new bug light zapper, and we needed to stop at a pharmacy to get Pantene conditioner [for The Baby]. Three quick stops. We'll go to Saco first, then run by a pharmacy, and then go have an early lunch at Tony Roma's. DH wasn't thrilled about the trip, but he had the day off and agreed to take me. [Easier to just get a driver than to listen to DH grumble the entire time about how much he hates driving downtown and how much he'd rather crawl across broken glass on his knees...]

There are two Saco's here. Saco is kind of like a small version of Walmart. You can find the occasional 110 volt appliance there - I did find a coffee maker a couple of months ago. There is a limited selection of hardware. They carry grease guns but they don't carry the grease that you need to go with it. They have some outdoor furniture - a much bigger selection now than they had when we were looking for patio furniture. They do carry quite a bit of kitchen "stuff" [dishes, serving pieces, glasses, pots and pans, etc.] and I was able to find food umbrellas to use at our cookout to keep flies off of the food while it is outside. Their website says they carry a whole lot more than they actually do. We have two Saco's. The problem is that they don't both carry the same things. So, usually a trip to Saco means going to both Saco's. Yesterday was no different. The first Saco had nothing that DH could use as a hook to hang our new bug-light zapper [I causually mentioned to a friend that I wanted one - they just happened to have one in their garage that they weren't using and she gave it to me!] So, but for the food umbrellas the stop at the first Saco wasn't productive. Big surprise.

We went to a pharmacy nearby. There was no Pantene conditioner. They did, however, have my Sensodyne toothpaste [which the Commissary has stopped carrying - why?] so I grabbed four tubes of that. As long as I can continue to find it at local pharmacies, then I won't have to ship it back from the States. The Commissary has replaced Sensodyne toothpaste with some brand I've never heard of, which I bought, but haven't yet tried. It has aloe in it. Do I really want aloe in my toothpaste? No. I would much prefer my Sensodyne, thank you very much.

So far a pretty unproductive trip, but now I want to go to Tony Roma's and try their cole slaw and their baked beans. We got to The Dhahran Mall - it was about twenty past eleven - and I figured we'd just be able to make it in before prayer-time. [Once prayer-time starts - everything closes and you cannot get in - but if you are in before prayer-time, then you're all set.] Tony Roma's doesn't start serving until 12:30 - after prayer. Figures. Just figures. So I ask to see their menu - which I wrongly assumed would carry all of the same things - but for pork ribs - that their menu in the States carries. Ranch style beans? Nope. Cole-slaw, yes. Do they do any catering or can I order a big huge pan of cole-slaw? Heck no. I would have to buy individual containers of cole-slaw. Forget it. Just not worth the effort. I am not going to buy thirty individual orders of cole-slaw. Totally, totally unhelpful - the manager at Tony Roma's. Whatever. To be expected, actually.

DH says, "We're here. Let's go to the food court." We have been there one other time since the mall opened four or five years ago. He wants tacos for lunch. [There is no Taco Bell - but there is a "Tako."] Fine. I'll have Subway. The food court is getting busy - it is lunch time - early lunch time, but lunch time nonetheless. DH decides he wants chicken instead of tacos. His choice - he won't get chicken at home - I won't make it for him and I haven't eaten anything that has feathers in eons. I quit eating poultry long before I quit eating meat beef. I am a pork-eating vegetarian and will eat the occasional piece of bacon or slice of ham, along with some fish and seafood, but other than that I eat no meat. I head off to Subway - which, besides Burger King had the longest line.

There were four men working at Subway. One just doing the cash register and getting the drinks, and the other three making the sandwiches. I want a 6-inch veggie sub on the parmesean oregano bread. The young man making my sandwich puts all the things I want on it - cheese, lettuce, black olives, pickles, onions and jalepenos. Then he says, "You want hot sauce?" Before I can even answer he liberally douses my sandwich with hot sauce. NO! I said NO!! And you've just covered that sandwich with it. Who puts hot sauce on a veggie sandwich?!! "I am not going to eat that. You have to make it again. I only want a little oil and the herbs. NO HOT SAUCE." He gives me a dirty look, as if to say, "Lady, we are busy and you want me to make you another sandwich." Everyone in line heard me say "NO" to the hot sauce. I turned around to apologize for holding up the line, and the Saudi man standing next to me said, "Do not be sorry. It is your right." My right to have a sandwich that I am going to eat. I agree. Don't put hot sauce on the next sandwich. Just a little oil. What should have been a five minute process was at least a fifteen minute process. I paid for my sandwich and Diet Pepsi [no Diet Coke at Subway] and went off to join DH who was already sitting down, eating.

It occurred to me, as we were halfway through our lunch that I was the only woman sitting in the entire area. We were in the men only section, not the "family" section where men and women are supposed to sit. Oh well. Perhaps if the signs were in English as well as Arabic, like every other sign in the mall, it would be a bit more helpful. We were still eating when the call to prayer sounded. Did people get up and leave and go pray like they are supposed to? Nope. They all sat and continued eating their lunch, but all of the different food vendors immediately shut down. That's it. All done serving until after prayer. Which was only disappointing because I wanted to go by Kentucky Fried Chicken to see if they do the big family portion sized pans of baked beans and cole-slaw. [I've got to go back to Kentucky Fried Chicken, now, today, to see if I can get what I need from them.] We finished lunch and as we were getting ready to leave, DH said, "Let's run into Geant. They have some hardware, don't they? Maybe they will have a hook to hang the bug-light." Okay. And off we went to run in to Geant. Gates are down and it is closed - it is still prayer-time. But look! Directly across from Geant is a pharmacy - and I can get The Baby's Pantene conditioner, there. And, there is also a Baskin-Robbins which just happens to have mint-chocolate chip ice cream! [I can make those mint-chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches, after all!! Life is good.] Of course neither the pharmacy or Baskin-Robbins are open - nothing is open during prayer-time.]

One of the security guys sitting outside of Geant motions for us that we can go in - go throught the door that says "employees only." Thanks, Mr. Security guy! So we go into Geant. Their hardware section was about empty. And so were many - and I do mean many - of the shelves. Are they going out of business? Can they not compete with the new Panda Hypermarket which opened across the street a year ago? Have no idea what is going on with Geant. When it first opened - everyone thought it was the a great place to shop for groceries - everyone but me. I do not like Geant stores. Not the one here, and not the one in Bahrain. But that is - or was - the closest thing to a Super-Walmart that was available to us. I'm sure Geant saw some competition a couple of years ago when Carrefour came in, too. We left Geant as soon as prayer-time was over and I scooted into the pharmacy there - they had ONE bottle of Pantene "Perfect Curls" conditioner. Good. Cross that item off the list. Then we walked back by Baskin-Robbins so that I could get a quart of mint-chocolate chip ice cream - but it still wasn't open. Dayum. At least I know where to find it now, though. So I can go back there, today, too. Lucky me.

As we walked out to the car, DH says, "while we're downtown I want to run by the dentist's office to make an appointment, and I want to go to GMC, too." Okey-dokey. We head off to the other side of town and pull into the dentist's office. They are closed. Of course they are! But at least the phone number is posted on the sign, so I write it down and now we have it. DH lost the card he had at one point... We really only needed the phone number. We head off to the GMC place. As we're headed there I say, "Let's stop at the 'other' Saco while we're here and see if you can find your hook there." We did. And, I found a "fly strip" too. Should have read the package more carefully. The fly strip that I bought was made in Ohio. You just know that if it was made in Ohio then there is nothing on it that is going to actually kill flies. If it were manufactured in China, on the other hand... There is 18 riyals down the drain. [The bug zapper seems to be most effective at night - and not during the day - apparently the light doens't attract the flies until it is dark out.] No matter. I've got food umbrellas to use to keep those nasty little pests off the food. It was a double-score though for finding leather conditioner.

Quick trip downtown. Two hours. Eleven stops and shops. The first Saco and a pharmacy. Then the mall - Tony Roma's, lunch at the food-court in the men's section, Geant, another pharmacy, Baskin-Robbins, the second Saco, the dentist's office and the GMC dealer on the way home - where we also pulled into Sears - we still need another freezer - Sears was closed. And it is not a Sears like a real Sears. It is a small store - called Zania or something - but it actually says "Sears" on the sign too, and they carry appliances - stoves, dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers, along with gas grills and exercise equipment. They are open from 8 until noon, and then from 3P to 7P. So convenient. Next trip down... We'll go to Sears first. I've already checked out the freezer - but it is not something that I want to buy without DH. He is much better with the whole bargaining aspect. Our cooktop, which we got at Sears had a sticker price of 1900 riyals. DH somehow managed to get the price down to 1000 riyals. Just try doing that at a Sears in the States. Bet that would garner a hearty laugh!


  1. re Geant - my understanding that it is somehow caught up in the whole Ma'an-Gosabi issue...which explains the empty shelves. I was there about a month ago and it was clear they were already in "liquidation" mode. Wonder what will be next?

  2. SGIME - What is the Ma'an-Gosabi issue? Something to do with Saudization? I must have missed it, whatever it is. Does that have anything to do with why Kika went out of business, too? I just figured that Ikea was too much competition. Amazing how stores come and go, here. One day it is there - the next? Like it never existed.

  3. Sorry, the 't' was in the form of a test for me to see if I could comment today! The last few days I have written a comment and been unable to post it due to the word verification - I assume others had the same problem and see that you have no removed it. Excuse my 't' and now I shall go back to read your post properly!!

  4. Sounds like you've had an eventful few days! Congratulations on your 50,000 visits - Keep it up and hope that todays shopping is more productive - Although somehow I already know another post is coming on! ;0)

  5. al Gosabi is the family that brought Pepsi into the Kingdom decades ago, and Ma'an al-sanae is SAAD Group - schools, hospital etc and they have been at the center of a recent financial crisis - there's all sort of info out there about it, Here are some links and another, and another!. Between the two families, they have hand in almost everything in the EP, or so my sources claim!

  6. ED - Just could not face downtown two days in a row. Spent the morning on the phone with a caterer, instead. Tomorrow... downtown. Urrgh!!!

    Thanks for the congratulations, ED!

  7. SGIME - Thanks! Interesting. I found it a little disturbing to see so many EMPTY shelves at Geant. Having not been to either Carrefour or HyperPanda in eons - wonder what their shelves look like.

    Perhaps that explains why there are no more bags of salad, too. The company just stopped producing it according to the man in charge of produce at our Commissary. No explanation. No nothing. Just stopped. Something that was always a total sell out. Gone. Figures...

    [And, by the way, I actually tried to google what you were talking about and came up with a bunch of articles written in a foreign language - and not Arabic. Appreciate your responding and your links!]

  8. Sabra, did you format the new memory card before you used it? It will mess with your pics until you format it. Also, if you're having trouble transfering pics using the scanner/printer, you can use a USB cable while the card is still in the camera.

    That happened to me after we lost power a few months ago, now I can't simply take out the card and insert it into the printer to download my pics. The only way I can transfer them is by using the USB cable.

    Good luck....


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