Sunday, April 1, 2007

Road 9, Maadi

On A Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keillor has a weekly quote cum advertisement: "Ralph's pretty good grocery. If you can't find it at Ralph's, you probably don't need it."

Well, the mantra here in Maadi is very similar, "If they don't have it on Road 9, then you don't need it."

Try going to the local Carrefore, which is supposed to be "in Maadi". There's no parking, because they're adding on to the mall (yes folks, a Starbucks is coming); the staff is indifferent and just because an item is displayed, does not mean it's in stock, "sorry, halas." It's a feast for the eyes and that's about it. It's a drag to drive out there, through throngs of traffic, where they provide no parking; to shop and have to weave through gawkers who have no intention of buying anything anyway; and to be ignored and put off and then told "halas" by the staff. Typical frustration is one thing. Everyone knows it takes longer to get things done here, "mumpkin boukra, inshallah," but Carrefore has taken the frustration level to a new high. Suffice it to say, I have not been back for several months. The Carrefore in Abu Dhabi was much nicer and seemed to be managed better. Did this French company think they could just waltz in to Maadi and run everyone else out of business? I think not - this is one second-rate, not worth your time or trouble establishment. And if it's Starbucks you're yearning for, everyone knows they've been watering down their drinks.

Now, Road 9 is a different story. It has 2 wifi coffee shops: Beanos & Cilantro; Several butchers; an organic vegetable market and plenty of other vege markets and grocers along with a Coptic Christian run pork, duck, chicken and wine shop; places to buy small appliances, ladders, plastics of all sorts; toys, books, and Egyptian jewelry, brass, copper, sheesha pipes, inlaid tables,etc; all the fast food restaurants; several other sit down restaurants; electrician and paint shops; dog / cat food and accessory shop; a Radio Shack; a furniture maker; and around the corner a Drinkies (liquor store). What more do you need? Everything is within walking distance and there's even more stuff around the neighborhood that's not on Road 9. Everyone is friendly, know enough English and are very familair with "Hello, Mr. Boss Man," who must have lived with the electricians, woodworkers, at Drinkies and Beano's while I was away last month. Apparently the whole neighborhood knows him. He's that American, who can't get enough wiring, cables, drills, lighting, etc. Okay, his metro-sexual self came out and he's been decorating and what not and he's happy. It's fine by me. I gave up on decorating a long time ago, when it became b-o-r-i-n-g. He's taken to it quite nicely though - thank God, because we could still be Maadi bohemeians if it were not for him.

I guess my problem is, people keep telling me to, "pick your fights." And fighting about furniture, ambiance, whatever you want to call it, is not high on my list. I really don't care anymore - it all seems inconsequential. The house is nicely decorated, it's clean enough, and I get to spend endless hours dithering away at my blog, walking about Maadi and taking photos, reading and watching what little TV is available here.

So in respect for Road 9 and all their wares, here's another short tour.

For more on what's available on Road 9, see: foraging for food and other items


Furniture Making Shop:


Touristy Type Shop: (The young girl could obviously care less)


  1. Love that chair, the work is so intricate. As you know here in Abu Dhabi we also have parking problems, but they don't sound as bad as yours. An Egyptian friend explained to me how everyone double/tripple parks and then leave the key in the ignitian so the car can be moved. Weird!

  2. The parking at Carrefore is horrendous, but we haven't had too much difficulty in the neighborhood where we live. Fortunately there's a metro system, so that helps.