Monday, May 12, 2014

Successful Shopping

It was hot and sunny yesterday, May 10.  Typical weather.  Not as blazingly hot as April, but hot enough to start sweating after about three seconds in the sun or an enclosed space. 

I spent a couple of hours in the afternoon doing some work and personal errands.  I went with the school driver and the head Admin guy to go to the printers to check on the status of our summer school materials.

We stopped first a few blocks from the printers at a small store that sells all things plastic.  I wanted to buy containers to help keep my classroom more organized.  No, I’m not keeping each student in a large plastic bin, although on full moon days that has some appeal.

I bought a large bin to keep all of the games and puzzles I use for the after school club and for the kids to use during free time (before school, after lunch, etc.)  Thanks to an idea from, I bought plastic soap dishes to hold all of the card games.  Even though I’d taken them out of their boxes and put them in Ziploc bags (yes, we have that brand here), they still got tattered and I went through the Ziplocs on a regular basis.  I also found a plastic thing designed to help drip dry utensils in the kitchen that I think will serve nicely to hold my whiteboard markers and eraser (or, duster, as it’s called here and in Samoa).

I also found a cylindrical metallic vase that is now working perfectly to hold my spatula, spoon, ladle, scissors, etc. in my kitchen. 

When we pulled up to the printers, I was expecting…a print shop.   Back in the dark ages, I was responsible for a magazine that went out to all the bank’s customers where I worked.  I’m familiar with silver prints, editing, layouts and the printing process.  This was not a print shop.  It was a tiny space, with walls on three sides and three very dusty copy machines.  And three guys busy making copies.  The SNL jokes were racing through my head.

Andrew, the Admin guy and my buddy, introduced me to Theory (I’m 100% sure that spelling is incorrect but that’s how her name is pronounced.)  She and her charming husband own the copy place.  She used to be an assistant teacher at AIS but left last year, very soon after I arrived, due to health reasons.  She and her husband showed us samples of what they’d done so far and showed us the progress that they’ve made.  I was very relieved to see that they should have everything done before school starts.  And, it appears to be quality work.  Given what they’re charging, I can’t imagine how they are able to make a profit.

After concluding our business, Theory insisted we head next door to a tea shop so they could thank us for our business.  She and her husband treated us to a beverage and we had a nice chat.  Theory and I hit it off immediately.  I think that was in part because she looks like she could be a sister of one of my best friends, who is from Guam. 

After 15 minutes of chatting and drinking coffee, or in my case, fresh orange juice, we headed off.  An aside, as I was drinking the delicious, fresh squeezed juice, with ice, I couldn’t help but wonder what that might do to my innerds.  On Friday morning, I’d developed a “bad belly” not bad enough to go home, but enough to ensure I didn’t eat lunch.  By the time I got home that afternoon, I started getting concerned.  I had a fever and spent more time in the bathroom than the bed.  I figured Saturday would involve a trip to the doctor.  But, I got a decent night’s sleep and by Saturday morning I was feeling much better.  I did not want a repeat performance thanks to bad ice.  Ah well, it was hot, I was thirsty and it would have been rude to decline.  (It’s now Sunday and my iron stomach has prevailed.)

As we were driving, I’d asked Andrew if he knew of a place where I could buy a cake pan.  I promised to bake a cake for each of my four ESL classes to celebrate our last class.  Last week, debate class ended and I made cheesecake brownies, which were well received by the students.  This week, I’d need four of them, using my one pan.  If I had more pans, that would help.  I brought the one pan from the US but figured as many bakeries as there are in Mandalay, somebody has to sell bakery supplies.  I also haven’t been able to find baking powder or soda in the last several months.

We took a quick detour to a place he’d found when he’d helped a visiting Science teacher find Cream of Tartar, something else not available in grocery stores.  It seems that people in Mandalay love baked goods but they do not make them at home, even in the wealthiest families.  When I baked cookies for my kids in class their reaction would have been no different if I had levitated in front of them.  It was magic.  Better yet, it was edible magic that they got to help make.

Anyway, we pulled up to the store that clearly supplies the bakeries.  I was in heaven.  Huge, industrial sized mixers, giant cake pans and all the chemicals required to make commercial baked goods.  I immediately spotted a small cake pan, the type you’d used for the top layer of a wedding cake.   Surely they must have pans for the next layer down.  Finally, they found one.  A bit beaten and dented, but a round 10” pan.  For $3.20.  They also had baking powder, from China.  I now have an industrial sized tin, which cost less than $2.00.  They had two colors and sizes of cupcake papers so I snagged those, too.  $1.10 for each and each has about 200 papers.   I like to use them for crafts with the kids and planned to bring them back from FL, but when I saw the prices, even at the Dollar Store, I refused.  This was a score.

By the time we left the store, I was a happy, dripping-with-sweat, woman.  Ready to head back to my apartment to relax and contemplate the logistics of cake making this week.

Note:  my new cake pan is a bust.  It is too dented/bent to hold liquids without leaking like a sieve.  One cake at a time it will be.

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