It’s been about three weeks since we touched down in Dushanbe. My job hasn’t started quite yet so I’ve had lots of time to get the house organized, sweep, play Kirby’s Return to Dreamland on the Wii, read, sweep (it’s quite dusty here), and go grocery shopping. I’ll do a much better job describing the markets in a different post but for now I want to focus on my metric system woes.
When buying fruits and vegetables in the U.S., you walk in, grab as many apples, tomatoes, pears, etc. as you want, pay, and leave. You don’t worry if it doesn’t equal exactly a pound.
Here things are completely different. Everything is sold by weight. On our first trip to the market Sean and I asked for six peaches and the lady looked at us like we each had five heads. They want things to be a round number so they don’t have to worry about change. Now we know to ask for everything in terms of kilograms.
Since figuring that out I have pretty much one setting at the markets: one kilo please (один кило пожалуйста). With heavier fruits and veggies like peaches, tomatoes, potatoes, and onions, that works out fine. Then the other day I asked for a kilo of okra.
Clearly this was an instance I should have asked for a half kilo but for some reason the Russian word for “half” won’t stay in my brain long enough for me to put it to good use.
Then there’s the meat market incident. Our wonderful social sponsor Will offered to take us there on Sunday. I asked one of the other newcomers, Sarah, if she wanted me to pick anything up for her. She asked for two pounds of ground beef. Simple enough right?
Wrong. My brain went like this “oh! Two pounds must be close to two kilos, let’s do that!” No. Not even close. One kilo is approximately 2.2 pounds. So here I was with about 4.5 pounds of meat. It gets better. We then tried to ask for one kilo of meat for ourselves but they misunderstood and gave us another two kilos. So then we had nearly 10 pounds of ground beef.
I did give one kilo of that to Sarah but then was stuck with about eight pounds for us. Meatballs and hamburgers all around! Forever!
Luckily we have a larger freezer so we froze most of it.
And now we don’t need ground beef until January.