Bee suddenly noticed that the street corner kiosk that she had grown up with in Eastern Europe did not exist in Oxford and she wondered where could you buy all the things she was used to. I had to explain about late night supermarkets, newsagents, and "indian" shops which are open till all hours and provide more than kiosks do. She was not convinced.
Another incident on a bus. Used to buying fixed fare tickets (from a kiosk) she plonked her pound coin down in the driver's dish and expected a ticket. After some moments of silence, the driver asked her where she wanted to go. She didn't know why it was any of his business. Afterwards I explained that there were different fares for different distances and it was necessary to actually talk to the driver. This seemed to be deeply shocking at first. Now we are both retrained to say thank you to the bus driver when we get off, as if he is a friend for driving us. Oxford is really friendly like that!!!
Bee and I suffered another attack of supermarket angst. Part of moving to England includes moving round various bed and breakfast establishments in Oxford while we found a suitable home and (unplanned but totally predictable) while the previous occupant moves out. We stayed in one place just by where we are going to live, so we investigated the fish and chip shop and the minimarket. Sloph sneered while Bee and I came back immensely cheered that the minimarket was actually the size of a "Minima" (Lithuanian code for the smallest size of big well stocked local supermarket) and sold good bread, sandwiches, and all the things you need for life in a B&B.
However when we went to the large Tesco to stock up for the apartment on the river I rented for the kids while I am in Kosovo, Bee and I freaked out. There were too many choices. Organic this and that, and it was really hard to find things like ordinary tea bags and simple (Greek-style) yoghurt just because the place was too damn big and there was too much damn choice. There were too many decisions to make, and too many labels in English to read, so you really had to read them. Not so much bother when the only bit you could read in a foreign language was stuck over by a label in Lithuanian or Greek.
Contrast that with the search I had this evening in Pristina for some ordinary teabags. After searching three or four minimarkets I thought I had managed it and bought something called crni chai, (black tea). It was next to a packet of green tea. I should have been warned as the shopkeeper said it was really good Slovenian tea with the 1001 mark. When I got home I realised it was blackcurrent tea. Now I shall have to try again tomorrow. Perhaps nobody drinks "Indian" tea. I shall have to resort to the tin of Yorkshire tea left by last week's visitors. Shopping in Kosovo is even simpler than in Kiev 12 years ago, as there are few luxury goods and no dollar shops where you could get a selection of goodies for hard currency.
In the early days in Lithuania, supermarkets had girls specially trained to accost shoppers and explain what products were for, as nobody could read the labels. In Greece girls accost you to tell you the latest cheap deal or hand you vouchers for buying two milk cartons. In Tescos I was feeling the need for someone to explain why I needed to choose between 200 cheeses and which one I really needed. It seems we all make the wrong choices as the population gets fatter and fatter.