A series of anecdotes with or without any connection to the running of a restaurant.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

As long as I know...

El Harrach Market (Algiers)
A treasure trove for bargain hunters. You could find just about anything, from pins to hammers, from socks to coats, from vegetables to flowers. I was in Algiers studying computing when I visited the market for the first time. A fellow student had said that there had been a arrival of Levi jeans. In 70's Algeria, foreign goods were very hard to obtain and an enormous contraband industry flourished. If you had no relatives abroad to supply you with jeans and other clothes, you had to resort to the flea markets.
I found the jeans stall tucked away in a remote corner of the market. I realised that I had missed out on the best bargains even as early as 11am. However, I spotted a pair of light-coloured blue jeans, which mustn,t have been very popular. I picked them up and placed them against my lower body. "Like a glove," I thought to myself.
"How much is the pair, mate?"
"55 Dinars."
A bargain! I had to have them. I counted out the money, stuffed the jeans into the carrier bag I had brought with me and just as I started walking away, I spotted another identical pair. Same size, same colour.
"I tell you what; I'll give 100 Dinars for both pairs."
The seller looked at me and could no hide his delight at being rid of the last item on the stall. He nearly pulled my arm off as he grabbed the money and instantly began dismantling his stall, thrilled by the early finish.
I went back to the campus to try them on. They were a perfect fit.

A few weeks later, I went back home for the spring holiday. My mother unpacked my suitcase and washed all my clothes. After a stroll in town, I returned home for lunch, just as she was hanging the clothes out to dry.
"Why did you buy two identical pairs of jeans?" she said.
"Because I liked them."I replied.
"Yes, I know you liked them, but people will think you've only got one pair!"
"As long as I know I have two, why should I care what they think?"
Daft story but this last remark has travelled with me all my life and it has become a kind of motto.
As long as I know...


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