INGULFED

In Shanghai

وقت القيلولة — Nap Time

There used to be a top Swede in everything, my Swedish colleague tells me. Now all they’ve got is fish, meatballs and IKEA. And when even IKEA can’t help me out, I know I’m in trouble.

My bed is a size not recognized by the world of IKEA foam mattress pads all christened with names of nonexistent Swedish sultans — Sultan Tafjord, Sultan Tårsta… So I turn to the Middle Eastern chain “Home Centre” in the hopes that they sell padding that does not have to be removed from its packaging and cut with scissors before using. Bad move.

It’s often hard here to find exactly what you’re looking for — a positive mall attitude requires a kind of vagueness far from the model number, “compare items” culture of American shopping. So I couldn’t find a perfect 100 Watt converter and the metal box they gave me gives out serious electric shocks when touched. But hey, now my TV works.

Even getting a haircut is a total free-for-all. The South Asian coiffeur told me what I wanted, explaining that it was “style”. I tried to argue, admitting that I wanted something stupid, and finally touching on one excuse that worked: “America. I’m from America.” He gave me a look: Okay, I’ll cut it, but it’s gonna look like shit. You asked for it.


The vacuum packed “5 cm”-thick mattress topper I found at Home Centre stayed compressed like hard tiramisu for more than a week. It could take 24 hours or 48 or even 72, Google said, for these kinds of things to flesh out. And in the world of Arab Time, maybe even physical processes take twice as long. (Microwave Instructions: 10 minutes; Above 12,000 ft: 12 minutes; Middle East: most of the afternoon.)

Come to think about it, maybe that’s why they don’t seem to sell microwavable things here at all. “Instant” food needs to be scorched in 6 inches of boiling oil, dipped, flipped, dried and cooled. Nothing like deep fried samosas, freezer to face all in under three hours.

“Have you been lying on it?” the Home Center salesman asked me incisively when I went to return the failed item. “Umm… yeah. Does it do something else?”

No, no, they told me. If you lie on it, it could take up to 15 days to fill out. You need to leave it alone to expand. On your extra bed. Used only for mattress pads.

Even though my twenty-third floor studio apartment has no room for a whole mattress to just hang out, this 10-day span of film festival ripe with indie gallery-worthy documentary has seen no shortage of naptime. To all you furniture designers looking for the next big thing: make a mattress out of movie theater chairs.

In Spain, the hallowed siesta tradition is under fire, attacked from some sides as a poor way of dealing with an economic crisis. But the nap lives on through the lifeline of international film festivals with 1 PM showings. Sure, the anti-nappers may have more hours in the day to spew their rhetoric, but the napperazzi are more cultured. You wanna take away my naps? In your dreams.

1 Comment»

  ninotchka wrote @

Napperazzi?! You making new inroads into the linguish! And the camel-racing video is so crazy! How much to buy & race your own camel?!


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