WA was among the first few getting the sniff of my movement. "Handbags! I want handbags. I want you to get me handbags from the duty free shops at the airport. You must help me! MUST!" She said. Then she spit out a long list of names like Anya, Fendi, Hermes, Aigner and so on until she noticed my face went blank, and maybe a bit of cross eyes too. She stopped and pondered for a moment. "You know what, I'll just bring you to the stores at the mall and teach you everything and anything about handbags. Then you'll know what I want and you can get the right handbag." WA announced. "Make sure you give me your email address there so I can email you my list." She added.
"Oh you have got to get me kharouf (lamb). Kharouf there is so delicious and tender and most important of all it does not have the overpowering overwhelming gamy smell." Z said to me knowing my relocation to Sudan. "And don't you worry, they'll pack the meat nicely and neatly. No mess." She assured me, reading my mind of the bloody messiness bringing raw meat on a 10-hour flight. In fact she's right, the kharouf here is absolutely to-die-for. The meat is all that she said, tender and juicy, sans the pungent scent. It must be the water here. And she's also right about the packaging too, I was told by my colleagues here one can request for the freshly slaughtered meat be packed air-tight.
"Hey I heard. Congratulations." F said to me. But before I could utter the thank you. She asked me to get her the mango juice. Yes mango juice, all the way from Sudan. "They sell it on the street. Fresh fruit juice, all kinds and they don't add water or sugar. I like mango juice. You can get them in a bottle, like a mineral water bottle. I had them when I was there visiting my husband, you remember he was stationed there for a couple of years last time. And I brought a few bottle back here too. So I know it can be done" She went on saying. Well, it's true. Fruit juices here are fantastically pure and thick, so thick that the straw stays vertical when you plunk into the juice. I've tried strawberry juice, grape fruit juice and of course, mango juice, all as equally great.
"Look for this one kind of dates." YH told me. "They are dried and you need to soak them in water. Then they turn soft and fluffy and sweet. One of the bosses brought me some before on his trip there once. They are really really tasty, but i don't know what they are called." Now that's really helpful, isn't it? I actually love dates but how do I get my hands on these magically amazing dates.
I saw H at the gym a couple of days before I left. He came by to say goodbye. H shook my hand and wished my the best of luck. Then he pull me in for a man hug, and whispered to my ear:"If you happen to come across my friends Benson & Hedges at the duty free shops in the airport, get me a carton, will you?"
"How do you fly to Sudan? Are you transiting in Dubai airport?" N asked me. I nodded. "I was transiting at Dubai airport once and there's this little shop in the airport selling all kind of spices." She continued, knowing that I like to cook. "I got some saffron there, really cheap. You can get a tiny little jar for less than 50 bucks." Yeah, but where is the shop? What's the name of the shop? Seriously, Dubai international airport is a jungle. And I'm wondering if N was just being helpful telling me this little piece of somewhat incomplete but intriguing information or she was hinting me to get the some saffron, still.
"What can you get in Sudan? Anything special?" YM asked me. "Nothing really. Maybe coffee, freshly ground Sudanese coffee." I told her. "Nah, we can get them from Starbucks here." She said. Yeah, I was doing the Tiger Woods fist pumping thing in my head.
Well landing here, getting to know this place a bit better, there are something to get here. Victorianox Swiss Army knives are cheap here. There are original, not the knock-offs. Some branded kitchenware such as Corning-ware and Doulton stainless steel cook wares. I'll be moving to my own apartment soon so I'm building my own shopping list to stock my kitchen.
Just one little problem, I need to find the shop in town.