A 'posh' visit to the supermarket
Back in the early 1990s when the first chain supermarket opened in Amman, many saw shopping there as a fashionable novelty, something new and exciting.
It was then thought not just anybody could enter the Safeway supermarket, you had to be a member of certain class to be able to pick off the shelf tins of carrots, marmalade or shaving cream without getting your fingertips dirty.
Supermarkets are certainly not for the elite or noveau riche but in those days shopping in a flashy hyper-market was a new thing and many people saw it as grand to enter a big food establishment.
Ten years down the road, Jordanian shopping began to change, with the doors spreading wide open as many people started to shop in not just one supermarket but in the many sprouting up and down the country in the late 1990s and tipping into the new Millennium.
Back then however, it was different. The only one of its kind Safeway was trendy and chic, and it was thought to be good to be seen going in and out of its doors even if it was only to buy one or two items.
Mind you a lot of people filled their trolleys and didn't care about the expense as if to show the neighbors they've been shopping at the new supermarket as they got out with their shopping bags after parking their cars outside their homes.
It was a new shopping era. People, men, wives, young, old, youths, girls with pink toenails went to the supermarkets all spruced up, dressed in their best, wearing latest drain-pipe trouser designs, pullovers and loafers.
Husbands in their best jackets and wives in frilly wear, almost walking hand-in-hand strolling with their trolley through the Safeway shelves, taking their time as they looked over the items.
I can't remember, if they had music in the background, but wasn't this an American idea trumped up back in the 1950s and 1960s to get consumers seductively in the mood of "hands-on-the-shelf-and-back-into-the-trolley" technique.
One time sleuth reporter Ben Wedeman, who then worked with me in The Star of Amman, but now with CNN used to say the supermarket has definitely become a big hit for the nightlife and a new avenue for shopping entertainment, throwing a can here, a can there, a carton here, a loaf there.
Wedeman an Arabic speaker, who obviously shopped at this supermarket, used to say a lot of people went there as if they were going to a dinner engagement or late night outing. Was high street, sorry food basket purchase, becoming a substitute for restaurants, I used to wonder. You can't go there wearing rags or to oversimplify it, in your birthday suit.
This was a rendezvous with a difference. Laced chiffon dresses and suits were certainly a sight for sore eyes, even though it was a bit comical. Instead of "passing me the folk dear, I can imagine one or two saying "blast, the trolley, has got into your dress, or oops sorry about your ankles", with her replying "don't worry dear, I am perfectly on top of things," satisfied with just strolling between the shelves.
Shopping in style was clearly being compared to a dinner evening, but with a difference: Coming back with hordes of shopping bags which they couldn't wait to take to the kitchen and rummage in to. Even today shopping in such outlets is more expensive than is the case in smaller corner shops in say Britain and/or America.
The fad of dressing up continued for at least a good few years, that is till people got used to shopping in big supermarkets, and of course by then Amman and Jordan generally, began to have a lot more of the big food chains like C Town and so on.
Now everyone goes there, no more for the upper echelons as it was mistakenly thought at first, no more dressing up, no longer any need for the red hot lips, mascara or black shoes. It's plain sailing with jeans and the rough and tumble of daily life which is how it should be.