Groceries and flat tires

A short bike ride from the yoga center at which I stay lies a darkened market shop on a street corner known to every local on the island as Siti Shop. The darkened windows are surrounded by baskets of fruit, vegetables, and dried fish carcasses (one of these things is not like the other and gives this market it's very own unique aroma) and the alley to the left welcomes knowing customers into the side door. You imagine it as all the other small convenience shops on the island, but if you can make it into the doorway past the the cluster of children by the ice cream freezer, past the man at the register making a pit stop on his way to mosque, and squeeze into aisles fit for a runway model, you'll have discovered the one stop mega mart of Gili Air. There's milk next to the figs next to the crackers next to the sugar next to the tempeh chips next to the hot sauce next to the cheese (yes sliced cheese on the shelf) next to the peanut butter next to the cat food, next to the rice next to the toothbrushes .... The dimly lit shelves are packed to the brim in what seems to be a sorted order of items. It's a magical little mart that sucks me into a time vortex each time I go in. "Ok, so I need soy milk for coffee, oh and crackers to dip into my coffee. Well now I need peanut butter for the crackers, oh golly they have cashew butter... OH! hot sauce! I put that on my warung tofu... what's that crunchy snack-looking chip bag labeled in Indonesian? ... better get it, it's authentic. Oh yes, and a mirror--my bungalow doesn't have one and I would like to be able to visually inspect the bug bites on my face. By this point my arms are so full, I notice that I can't wipe the sweat pouring down my forehead. A girl no more than twelve emerges from the piles of aisles lining this sauna shop and hands me a basket. I did this in America too, "I'll just run in to Trader Joe's for some bananas and almond milk," and then moments later I'm peering over a pile of produce, salsa, and bottles of wine, still committed to the fact that i don't need a cart because I'll only be in for a minute. I sigh and release my hodge podge of items to my basket and meander through the maze to get to the payment "area." No line, just walk up and whoevers stuff hits the counter first, wins. I quickly decide that I also need two mangoes and a pear, just in case. I smile widely at the woman sitting behind the desk. She sports a baby blue hijab and a stern yet approachable gaze that makes me wonder if she's over the whole tourist-in-her-store thing. I realize very quickly that I got carried away with my grocery selection and that I wouldn't have enough cash for everything. I go to put my crackers back and she waves me off taking the crackers and placing them back on the counter. Alrighty then, we'll just deal with the cash shortage after. She punches in the prices on her calculator and then swirls it around to show me the final damage. I hold out my two bills with goofy toothy I'm-sorry-I-can't-count smile and start my selection of which food is getting ousted from this shopping spree. She waves at me again and says "no, tomorrow, you bring tomorrow" indicating that I just pay the remaining $2 tomorrow. I hand her the money I have and I say the most emphatic "terimakasee" (thank you) and leave the store. This woman doesn't know me from suzie Switzerland and yet she trusts that I will repay her. It's moments like this that restore my faith in the love and trust within humanity; and, it makes me never want to leave a place like this. I put my heaping grocery bag in my bike basket and begin the short journey home. The combination of my hefty bag and muddy street weaves my front tire side to side until I pedal my bare feet to gain enough speed to ride comfortably across the street rocks, past some tourists and a local warung. CLANK!! POP!! ... then that soul deflating "HSSSAAA" of a dying tire follows. I dismount, throw my head back, and in unison, the locals at the warung, the tourists walking by--I think even the cats in the street--joined me and sighed "awwwwhhhh." We all at that moment came together to comiserare the sudden death of my back tire, all understanding, without words. I nodded in gratitude to my fellow humans for sharing this moment with me, a moment that could have been upsetting or day ruining for many; but, instead tied me closer to a universal connection, an experience understood by those around the world. I grab hold of my handlebars and mosey home with a smile--no words or shoes required.


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