I'm a fan of deals. I hunt them and take great pride in telling the tales of my bargain related exploits. Therefore, you should know about The Nesto Hypermart. It's a giant building
plopped down in the middle of an acre of sand and random ruble. Imagine if Walmart, a Chinese fish market, a post apocalyptic zone, and an Indian food restaurant had a baby in the Middle East. Meet Nesto.
Throughout its encompassing parking lot, Indian men hustle about with egg shaped mobile car washing contraptions and will have your car gleaming for roughly $5. Inside is a two level affair. The top story boasts an array of household items such as dirt cheap carpets, artificial plants, batteries with names like "Thunder Boom," smart TV's for a $100, and even discounted prayer rugs.
Also part of upstairs is an Indian restaurant called "Food." A damn good one. And cheap. The kids, Cheri and I do the touristy thing and order off the menu. A feast. The spice level is notable and Arya declares loudly, "Look! Daddy's sweating!" She's not wrong. Glancing around, we get jealous because we notice everyone is eating food off of giant leaves, an all you can eat lunch deal for 10 AED ($2.60). Despite our westerner ignorance on ordering, we're still out the door for about $30 with a heavy doggy-bag feast I plan to consume as soon as my stomach pain subsides slightly.
There's also a bizarre, somewhat dingy, Aladdin themed hair salon for kids beside the restaurant. Finn's mangy hair is overdue for a cut, so I pressure him inside. He's not happy and when his large body barely fits in the kiddie salon chair, he looks at me with baleful, accusing eyes. Directly next t
o us, a 2-year old screams at such intense volumes that I decide to let Finn off the hook, and we bail before the cut begins. The $5 haircut will have to wait.
Downstairs is the grocery store. Like the restaurant, it's prices please me. A lot. Of equal value to i's budgetness is the deli section which sells a range of freshly cooked Indian and Arab foods. I stock up with a vat of hummus, Saudi feta cheese (so soft it's spreadable), butter chicken...cuz ya know, the giant portion of it at lunch wasn't enough, tabouli salad, vegetable biryani, strange olives from regions I'd never heard of, and rice puddings (yes, plural; I got three different variations). Some of the groceries aren't great around here no matter which store we hit. The milk, for example, tastes like it's marinated with a gym sock. And cottage cheese should not be as solid as ice-cream. Mexican food products are also suspect...which makes sense considering Mexico is 1.63 million miles from here.
MY grief over Mexican food is slightly assuaged, however, by the fact that there's a little cart in the middle of the store selling made to order Indian naan burritos (not called "burritos" but you get the idea). The preparer looks unhappy when I snap a photo, but, hey, I'm still a tourist.
As we checkout, the teller asks us if we have the savings app. Shit, no. Within seconds, three baggers and the clerk are helping us navigate the download and registration steps, a process that ends up involving three separate phones. It finally works and a bagger rolls our cart out for us into the heat. He's from Nepal and brightens when I mention singing bowls (something I annoyingly do every time I meet a Nepalese). Outside it's 1.63 million degrees with surroundings reminiscent of a Mad Max film. No matter, we've got a lovely refuge back on campus and enough Indian food to fill seven midnight Indian burritos.