Friday, November 30, 2012
It's a Jungle Out There: UAE Malls
Paradoxically I both love and hate the malls and shopping in the UAE.
The shopping choices in the UAE are MARVELOUS! I have found almost every single store I have looked for: The Gap, Levis, Bath and Body Works, Columbia. True there are no Barnes & Noble and no J.C Penney's or Kohls, but I have discovered H&M, Boots Pharmacy, Le Senzia, and Lush.
And this country's shopping culture makes America's consumerism and materialism look like a thin dim shadow on the sundial of economic consumption. The people in the UAE are master shoppers, not mere novices. They are professionals in every sense of the word. And their unending array of choices proves it.
Rhinestone couches? They got 'em.
Sparkly shoes? Check.
Glittery dresses? Just choose one.
It's all here. In triplicate.
The "hate" part about shopping in the UAE is that the nanosecond I enter a store I am instantaneously stalked and hunted by the salesclerk, like a lion zeroing in on a hapless antelope warily gulping water from a muddy creek edge. You scream at the antelope, "He's behind you! Run!" He continues to slake his thirst, powerless to heed your cry of warning. The lion closes in. As the antelope drinks, his eyeballs roll in the back of his head because on some instinctive level he knows his ass is grass.
I am the antelope.
I walk around a clothing rack and the salesclerk ducks and walks around the next clothing rack, mentally calculating how many steps it will take for her to sidle up next to me. I see the salesclerk as she attempts to predict my browsing pattern. She closes the distance. she goes right and then fakes a left. I go around another clothing rack. I lose sight of her. I quickly change my direction, thinking I have outmaneuvered her. Then I see a shadow. Ten feet....five feet.... two feet. She has won.
"I help you, M'am? Look at shirts? Just arrive".
I shake my head, "No thanks, I'm just looking".
She seems not to hear me, She pulls a shirt off the rack and holds it out. "This nice. Matches eyes".
"No, no thank you.. just looking".
She steps back a foot, but doesn't leave. She trails me as I continue to browse. My concentration is now divided between the stalking salesclerk and my need to get a closer look at a red pair of pants in the back corner. The girl doesn't go away. She follows me. She watches as I examine the red pants, waits to pounce, mentally trying to pair the pants with a blouse from the next rack. I allow my steps to linger two seconds too long. She rushes towards me. I shake my head at her and walk away from the pants.
But the girl still lies in wait, in it now for the kill, ready to tear the pulsating jugular vein from my debit card. Finally I grow exasperated and walk out of the store. I enter another store, the same thing happens. I swear it's the same girl...
This scenario plays itself out over and over again. Even in the one mall bookstore I have managed to locate, the salespeople stalk me, and believe me, the last place on earth I want to be retail hunted is in a bookstore.
I have been reduced to contemplating the effectiveness of wearing a huge sandwich board that states in bold black letters:
BACK OFF! I DON'T NEED HELP. I AM JUST LOOKING!
But it would clash horribly with my red pants...
Posted by Liti