Monday, 21 April 2008

The shopping mall experience

It was december 29th, if I am not mistaken, when Fernanda and Rodrigo came to me saying they wated to go shopping, on a mall, for they were not finding what they wanted to buy in the shops on the streets. So, on the next morning me and Nara took them for a long sight-seeing walk around Belgrade, while the time to meet up with Toma and finally go to the mall they so wanted to see wouldn't come.
Of course our first stop had to be Kalemegdan (again), after all it was, by far, our favourite place.

Knez Mihailova was packed: the usual, delicious mess of people, running around to buy new clothes for new year's, small kids playing violins for some change, the smell of pop-corn, loud teenagers in large groups, youngsters giving away new year's eve parties' flyers and, of course, the already well known north american native indian musicians - that, as Toma pointed out to me later, would always bring rain to Belgrade after their performance.

So, after a long day of walking around Belgrade we finally met with Toma and took the bus to Novi Beograd. The bus was completely packed with people, in a way that we almost didn't manage to reach the door still in time to come off in the right station. In fact, Nara, Fernanda and Rodrigo didn't manage to reach the door as Toma and I did, and they had to come off the bus a hundred meters after us. But anyways, we met right after it, and got into the Mall...

It's interesting how Shopping Centers are exactly the same, no matter where in the world you are. Suddenly I was taken by this feeling that I was not in Belgrade, but in Rio, or Cologne, or London... Being on a shopping mall anywhere in the world is like being in some parallel dimension, outside any country or borders, because all the malls look the same, specially at this time of the year: christmas decoration, sales everywhere, hysterical women fighting for Zara's last "off" pieces, kids running and messing around... Enfin, complete chaos, haha.

As soon as we walked in, Rodrigo, Fécula and Nara decided to go eat something, because they were starving and starting to get ill humoured. When we finally reached the restaurants and fast food area, I started getting really, really disturbed: there was just SO many people, and the noise they were making was so loud, I couldn't focus on anything at all - I was getting completely disorientated. The queues in every restaurant were huge, there was no place to sit and we couldn't barely move without hitting someone accidentally.
As the 3 of them didn't seem to agree on one place to go and eat, they decided to go where each one of them wanted to, and then meet on a table, so they could eat together. So, after (finally!) finding a table we splited: Toma and I went to a less chaotic floor, while Fêcu, Rodrigo and Nara were eating - or at least, trying to.

Fécula ran to McDonalds. Nara, already used to serbian food by now, chose for a more local option (can't quite remember the place's name). And Rodrigo, as always, didn't seem to decide for a place to buy his meal - that is, til the moment his eyes came across Duff's. DUFF's. D U F F ' S. He was almost moved to see "Duff's" written on a big display. "Hell yeah, just like in The Simpsons!!", he thought. And even though the queue was gigantic, he decided it was worthy to wait - after all, when he would have the chance to eat at Duff's again? and other than that, if the queue is big, it's (probably) because the food is good.

So, there he went. Took a deep breath and engaged in the line.
While waiting in the queue, he suddenly realised: he couldn't speak serbian so how was he supposed to ask for anything? "Semi-panic" for several seconds, when he started to try to remember what Fécula had just taught him: serbian numbers! Now, with the numbers kinda in mind, he was trying to make sentences, saying what he wanted, mixing serbian numbers with english words and things he saw written in the place's menu and so on. Hunger was making him get rather nervous about his time to ask for his meal that, despite the huge delay, seemed to be approaching. It wasn't before almost an hour of waiting that his turn finally came. And when it came, he had this mix of starvation, plus nervousness plus excitement:

Rodrigo: Ja... Ja ho... Ja.. Speak english??
Attendant: *Giggles*, nodding head like "yes"
Rodrigo: Phew! (in a rather psycho tone of voice) I'm hungry, I want a sandwich! I want to eat, give me some food!!

People around him in the line, the attendant at Duff's and even himself couldn't help but laughing, a lot, hahahaha. The attendant registered his order and he paid, which made him feel deeply relieved - he was finally going to eat!

After a little more time waiting, the attendant came with his sandwich. His eyes were beaming and he had a transported smile on his face, while he was watching his "food" coming to him, in slow motion, with a bright light coming out of it (ok, this was my imagination, but the scene does looks cool seen like this).
When the attendant finally came to him with his huge hamburger in hands, she asked "what sauces do you want with your sandwich?"

He froze - sauces? Sauces?? He didn't have the time to think and plan about asking for sauces!!! His despair was so big at this point, that he only said "any sauce, whatever you want to put, I just want my sandwich!!". But it was not just up to the attendant what sauces to put: everybody, literally every person in the queue started giving their opinions on what sauces the attendant should put on his meal. "Put that one, that one on the right!" or "That, beside the read one!" and "Nooo, that one is not so good, put the first, on the left!".
After 10 seconds of that, his sandwich was looking more like a soup of sauces than a proper sandwich, hahaha.

But you know, when we're really hungry, we just don't care or don't even notice stuff like that.

He started walking away from Duff's messy queue, with his drink in one hand and admiring his huge saucy sandwich in the other hand, taking a deep breath before the first bite. A magical moment.
But the magic only really lasted til he had the first bite.
He felt like his mouth was on fire - the feeling was that his so desired sandwich was straight pepper soup, hahaha.
Cursing didn't help much. So he had his sandwich pepper soup, with tones of water to heal the burning feeling, and that was it.

It's worthy mentioning that he still took some half an hour to find Fécu and Nara, after his Duff's adventure.

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