Last night I went to Walmart for the first time in my life. As I guess every single person in this country already knows, you can buy anything you want at Walmart, including oregano seeds for $1, karaoke CDs of Lady Gaga’s latest, and a pre-faded red tee shirt that says “I’m a Pepper.” This is awesome, any way you look at it. Draw a veil discreetly over that rather compelling documentary I watched a few years back about how bad Walmart is.

My visit to Walmart was so unusual that my credit card company immediately suspended my card for suspected fraudulent activity. Remember that I live in Pakistan, charging up electric generator sets and tiki torch fuel cans left and right and no red flag is raised. Re-examine your screening process, Capital One.

I restored my credit card privileges in time to do some damage at the mall today, the next stop on my consumer tour. I don’t like shopping at the best of times, but cramming six months’ worth of essential purchases into one day is especially icky. Random sampling of my list of must-haves today: sneakers, “Game Change” book about the 2008 election, sports bra, organic mascara, yoga block, 2011 dayplanner, pastry cutter, silver polish, and sesame oil. I should have bought the sneakers first and then put them on for the 6-hour mall walking marathon that commenced.

Shopping by yourself is weird. You have to depend on the fawning opinion of the commissioned saleswoman about the black leather and velvet leggings/ankle boot combination that you want to believe could work on the Islamabad party scene this fall (solution: go with your gut when it says “no.”) You have to stop for lunch (and dinner) alone at sad food court eateries and look forlornly at the Cinnabon lady when she says they don’t come in a mini size. Who can eat a whole Cinnabon after a full lunch without a friend to share? Those suckers have definitely grown more massive since I’ve moved away.

I drifted into the Sony Vaio store, and then into the Mac store, begging fate to settle my question about which laptop I should buy before I return to Pakistan. I was ignored in both places. This may be because my “research” consisted of limply picking up laptops to judge their weight and growing bored when I realized I couldn’t open a browser online. I hate computers, I hate the Mac vs. PC debate, and I hate that I have to pick a side before this Sunday.

I also hate carrying around a growing load of heavy shopping bags, each one with a cute twine handle that cuts into your skin like a medieval restraining device by the time the day is done. Why haven’t malls started popularizing shopping carts?

I should stop complaining. Some people love shopping, and would love the idea of doing six months’ worth in one day. It is fun to get stuff that isn’t available in Pakistan, and I did come home with lots of good loot that I am excited about. (And some stuff, like eye makeup remover, that is just deadly dull.) Friends in Pakistan, if you want me to bring you back anything from the U.S., you’d better tell me quick, and it’d better be available at the airport gift shop, cause this little mall shopper isn’t going back.

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