At various points in house walls, perimeter walls, outhouse walls etc there are small windows, maybe about 1 metre square at about mid-chest height. There’s no signs so you’d never know until someone tells you, but these are in fact little shops. A bit like someone selling out a their garage. In fact shops are a bit of an exaggeration, I’d describe them more as off the street street vending points.
Behind the window is a quite small area, shelved and stacked full of things. Determining what is available is difficult. They are quite dark inside. Everything on the shelves is not facing you directly, but at right angles along the walls. Piles of stuff litter the floor, hiding many of the shelves – in other words they are packed full. Of course things like Coca cola bottles are immediately recognisable, but other things are more difficult, especially when you don’t know the local brand, don’t recognise the local branding, don’t know the local word for it, and reading the labels is stretching your eyesight too much.
My nearest local one is run by man who is Hausa speaking, no English to speak of. I have been to him a handful of times now – to recharge my phone, to try to but matches – which he didn’t have, to buy powdered milk, and to buy eggs. The last time I went I was greeted by a huge smile so I am beginning to be known. I am definitely missing Kiran Kumar of Rayagada whose small local shop,although perhaps only 2-3 times the size of this hole in the wall seemed to be much better stocked and who sold loose lentils, rice, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic etc. No such here. Within one block either way from our flat there are 4 such holes in the walls! The commercial logic of this I cannot comprehend. One run by a lady sells loose beans, and I have bought some black eyed peas there after having worked out what the measuring system was. 250Naira for a mudu’s worth. Ok, what’s a mudu worth I ask? The lady lifts up a small plastic basic, that’s too much so would she sell a half mudu worth? Then she picks up a smaller plastic basin, a half mudu, or maybe it’s a mudu as well. No one has scales here so its just by some arbitrary volume that goods are exchanged.