Piracy, Markets and Love

Something bad happened to me today. Something that made me think about pirates. Not those in the Indian Ocean, and certainly not the kind Johnny Depp has made popular — though they are my favorites! But well, I feel so bad. I want to strangle someone. You know that feeling? You have a lot of money in your pocket but when you walk into a shop, they say you cannot buy anything there because — well, maybe because you are wearing a blue shirt and they only allow people with red shirts into this shop.

The kind of situation that makes you look for a pirate to hack into the shop and get you what you want at almost no cost. After spending years using pirated software, I think my company is growing, and so I want to go legit and buy the real stuff. But they won’t sell it to me. Because I don’t have a credit card from their stupid country. I call a friend who does, and we try to use her card, but still they won’t sell it to us because the license won’t be used outside their stupid country.

And I got so mad — and I started to wonder why the heck the process of buying and selling goods is becoming so (unsocial? mechanical? unreal? virtual?) — trading is supposed to be the heart of humanity. Whether you go to the neighbors to exchange your bar of soap for a pinch of salt, or to the market to buy a little sugar and bread for the kids — trading is supposed to be a socializing experience.

But it’s becoming impersonal. You have to buy stuff online. Using plastic cards. And when you get mad like I did today, you can’t scream at the pretty cashier who gave your a bouquet of flowers when you asked for flour.

Oh well, they do have ‘help lines’. They say, “Call this number if you are having trouble purchasing our products.” And when you call, what happens, you talk to a stupid robot that pretends it has a voice like Dolly Parton — for a few seconds you do think you are speaking to a pretty girl; you start to ask her out and then — cliche joke.

I love the color in the markets of Uganda.
The smells as well, and the noise of traders hawking their goods amidst the traffic.

But I was saying that trading is losing it’s humanity. We have kafundas, and market stalls around every corner, and hawkers with wheelbarrows full of vegetables. But the way society changing, all these nice things might vanish. Every shop is turning into a supermarket. And the employ girls who aren’t as nice as the women you talk to when you visit the market. These girls have plastic smiles, and wear uniforms like school kids, and are often too tired to flirt with customers — or cannot because the Indian supervisor is watching them on the CCTV.

Markets are a place where boys meet girls.

If the world all turns into supermarkets and virtual shops and plastic cards, how will some people get married?

I know a girl who married the cake delivery boy. Well, he wasn’t really a cake deliverer, but the baker himself. Because he was a small fish in the pond, like me and my company, he could not afford to pay a delivery boy. He had to do the legwork himself. So he goes to this girl’s offices — let’s call her Pauline — and Pauline is in one room, busy typing away at her computer when the smell of cakes hits her nose. She leaves her desk, sniffing, sniffing, feeling something strange turning in her heart — “It’s just a cake Pauline!” — but she moves from room to room, sniffing, until she finds the cake.

And the baker.

He is on his way out. It’s love at first sight (though I think it was love at first smell). And she says; “I have a birthday next week. Can you make me a cake?” It’s a lie, of course. There’s no birthday next week. She just wants an excuse to get his number, and make a move.

They are now married. They have two children. And he still bakes cakes. But understandably, she doesn’t let him do deliveries anymore, for she is afraid another girl will fall in love with the smell of his cakes…..

Girl’s love birthday cakes. I think it’s the key to their hearts.

Ah — what was I talking about when I dragged up this cake memory? Yes, supermarkets, online shops, all those kinds of new trading that is killing societies. Including things like facebook. I feel inspired to start a movement to take humanity back to the stone ages, when everything was so simple. When you walked into a shop and either bought bread or it was out of stock. When young girls used shopping as an excuse to meet their boyfriends — noticed how they take baths and tune themselves up as though they are going for a party and not to buy tomatoes? — When you could smell of the mud, the fresh vegetables, the fish, the fruits, the sweat, and feel the noise of a busy and dusty market as you looked for a supper. Hmmm I should do that more often, while it lasts.

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1 thought on “Piracy, Markets and Love”

  1. Dilman–never having purchased software outside the US–I'm not exactly sure the problems you are running into–however I will agree the impersonalization of customer service by purchasing online is a huge problem. Not that you want to yell at someone in frustration all of the time–but where is that friendly face and a thank you when you do spend your hard earned money on something you've waited to buy for a long time. I can not imagine though, not being able to buy something because I am wearing that blue shirt–so to speak. I can imagine it is frustrating. Hang in there 🙂 Looking forward to more of your posts!! Cheers, Jenn.


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