02 June 2012

Something to Love in Kyrgyzstan a Day: Buying Groceries

I still remember how I felt the first time I needed to go shopping with both boys (they were four and six at the time) on my own.  My husband was around the first few days so we could divide and conquer, or all go out together, but it wasn't something that could be put off till it was convenient.  Here's the first post I wrote about grocery shopping here in September of 2005:

I went grocery shopping today. This doesn't sound like a big deal, but here it's a little trickier.

First, you need to steel your children for the job. It's a bit of a walk, especially carrying all your food. And they need to stick with you since the roads are a bit crazy and you'll be crossing some without lights. Little boys do not like to walk next to their mother.

Second, you need to be prepared to carry everything you buy. It's wise to bring along a few strong bags (I'm beginning to understand all the shopping bags on the plane) so you'll have a chance of getting most of your food hoping without dumping it on the sidewalk.

Then you need to plan your attack. If you have large bills from the bank, you need to pick a store that will possibly have change for the equivalent of a 10 dollar bill. People don't like to give out all their small bills. But I still haven't figured out how everyone else seems to have exact change.

Do remember that your children will get hungry halfway through no matter how recently you fed them. And that going around noon is folly, since the streets are rather crowded.

But we all survived and I came home with flatbread, Ramen noodles, cheese, pasta, airan, juice, kefir, and samsas. I really was rather proud of myself and it took less than two hours. And just think, I can only get better at it.

I did get a lot better at it, and so did the boys.  But I didn't start to love it till I came back the second time and could go out on my own.  I even wrote a post about how much I loved shopping at the Tokmok bazaarNarodniy is boring now.

I can't even imagine regularly shopping in a regular grocery store in the US anymore.  I'll be the weird woman looking for local sources for everything.  We're moving to a great town where I'll be able to walk to do that.  It'll just cost 10 times as much as Bishkek.


  1. I can so relate to this. I miss those little stores and markets too. It just kills me to walk into Walmart now.

  2. I remember shopping in a US supermarket for the first time after being in KG a year or so, probably. I remember saying out loud "how does one ever chooooosse???" I got some stares for that one!