Last week, all government schools were on holidays. The city was practically deserted. Many people took off to their home countries or were gone vacationing. I was reading Arab News (arabnews.com) this morning, and Jeddah saw a huge rise in their sales. I guess everyone was out shopping in Jeddah. We were stuck at home, no car and we didn't want to venture out anywhere with a rental. Finally S. got his car on Saturday, the first day back from holidays. After isha, we decided we'd take a spin in the car and go for some groceries.
We went to Hyper Panda (it's the equivalent of Loblaw's or the Superstore) and the place was very crowded. The stores here shutdown about fifteen minutes before salaah and don't open until fifteen minutes after salaah. So, many people find it easier to just go shopping after Isha. They can shop leisurely without being rushed. To avoid the crowds, we usually like to go early morning before dhuhr or after dhuhr on the weekend. But because we'd been without a car for a few days, we found ourselves at a very busy Hyper Panda at 10pm. Save a few bumps and cart jams in some of the aisles, we finally made it to check-out. The lines were 15 to 20 carts long, and stretched out well into the aisles. It seemed like everyone returned from the holidays, late Friday night or early Saturday morning, and rushed for groceries first thing. All the registers were full, the cashiers just punching in numbers, and trying to get the lines moving as quickly as possible. We braved the crowd and finally found a spot in what seemed to be the shortest line. But seeing the 10 or so people in front of us, (you can't really tell because people like to butt in through the sides as well, it's not really an orderly line) with overflowing carts, and a quick look at the watch (it was almost 11:30pm) we decided we should just go home. I knew the city came alive after Isha, but I didn't imagine such a crowd at the store. Even on the busiest pre-holilday or post-holiday shopping in Canada, the lines aren't this bad. But in a city that has only two big supermarkets, Hyper Panda clearly being the hip n' happenin' spot because it's conveniently located in the mall, long line ups are the norm post-holiday. I guess we'll just stick to being the early birds and catch our cart full of worms on weekend mornings, while the city sleeps-in.
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