Saturday, August 26, 2006

Clearer picture

Some months ago, I compared my experiences in Iran to the movie Castaway, not so much because of the isolation or (preceived) primitive conditions but because of my need to adapt and change to the new environment. Now I know that lots of people have this notion that Iran is backward and primitive because of this status as a Third World country, but that's image is far from the truth. All of the latest, greatest technology is available if you've got the money from cell phones to big screen tvs to video screens for your car. There's been a huge increase in the last 10 years in the number of new cars on the road.

The difference it seems to me is not so much what's available but who sells it. There are very few places here that could be compared to the big box retailers in the US. Most places here are single stores run by individuals or families; which means that the products offered depend on the preferences of the owners and their customers or what they decide to stock up on at any given time. So, if you’re looking for something specific you may have to go more than one or two places to find it. Often having the stores run by individuals or families results in them being more customer-oriented.

A great example of this happened a few weeks ago. Here, the government subsidizes milk production but limits the number of liters sold to each store. Milk is delivered daily except on Fridays so if you don’t pick up milk by Thursday afternoon, you’re usually out of luck until Saturday. Now, you can stock up a bit but the milk here isn’t as heavily homogenized as in the US so the fat starts to separate after a couple of days, which the kids hate. One Thursday night after visiting the in-laws I realized we needed milk. There are four small grocers in my in-laws neighborhood, two of which are very friendly. We stopped at my dh’s favorite and he asked if they had any milk left. This was about 10 p.m. so of course they were out but the owner told dh to wait a minute and went a got 2 liters of milk from his own house for us since we’ve “got kids”. Now, how often do you think that would happen anywhere else?


Patty said...

what a wonderful example of kindness. Is that how the milk is sold, in those containers ? They look like plastic bags almost.

Anonymous said...

Now that's what I call service! The world really CAN be a wonderful place :-)