Yanelys Nuñez Leyva
HAVANA TIMES, April 8 – In many of the films made in the United States, especially the more commercial ones, there’s often a protagonist who flees their depressed emotions by making a great shopping trip.
Going to the stores and buying what you need and what you don’t is an “enormous pleasure” that sells very well in everyone’s advertising spots.
In our country, for the Cuban on the street, the very opposite occurs:
Some of my most significant attacks of depression occur when I have to enter a store to buy an essential product.
The price of the merchandise continually rises to exorbitant levels; at the same time the more affordable items disappear from the shelves for long periods of time.
Currently, for example, Kerol brand shampoo and conditioner – products which are highly sought after by a large portion of the population since they only cost 1 CUC (around $1.10 USD) – are missing.
Then there’s the dilemma of the discounts:
There’s never any such discount from the original price of a food product; when in some way an item does arrive at an affordable price, it’s usually because the expiration date has long since passed. Even then, it gets sold.
My sister is an authentic example of this phenomenon. In her zeal to put on heels to go to work, every so often she’ll spend the whole day going from store to store, from the largest to the least frequented, in order to find some cheap shoes that will later come apart on her, usually some ten days after acquiring them.
This has happened to her an untold number of times, but she won’t back down and continues to lose her money in this miserable way.
Even though my idea of pleasure isn’t strictly related to a splendid consumption of products, I confess that survival would be more satisfying to me if the things that I sometimes look for I could find at a reasonable price and good quality.
Going to the shops in Cuba has become a real conflict for me:
The tumult of people that are always found there – on the hunt for a product at a low price that could be resold for a profit -, the grudging attention of the salespeople, and the scarcity of articles I can afford has produced in me a profound aversion and an never-ending state of dejection.