martes, mayo 30, 2006

Buying books.

I don’t want to pack. Packing means I’m leaving.

I want to write about bookstores in Santiago. Not your big ones but small places like the ones on Calle San Diego.

For those of you who don’t live here, a little background. Many stores in Santiago – pharmacies, stationary suppliers, candy shops – are set up to maximize human interaction. They put everything behind a counter, and if you want something you’ve got to ask for it. This was a huge shock to me after Singapore, where small talk in stores was kept to a minimum. I think they have stores like this here because it conserves space and prevents shoplifting (correct me if I’m wrong). If you have everything behind a counter, you don’t need a very big place. Best of all, if people can’t touch the merchandise unless dead-smack in front of you, no one can steal.

But, man oh man, Santiago. Please don’t do this with books! Books are for browsing. I don’t know enough about what I’d like to read. I can’t ask you for titles or authors!. I want to read back covers. I want to read summaries. I want to check out the odd paragraph towards the middle. Why can’t I do that without bugging you to grab someting off the shelf? Do you enjoy helping the clueless gringa? I doubt it.

Also, Chile, can we make a deal? I think you have too many nice people. It's not fair. I'd like to make you an offer. Can the US have your grannies? We will give you our teenagers! Aw, dude, Chilean grannies are so cool. Loud, nosey, old women who fuss over you for this and that. I want one so bad.