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Bonding in Nasser

We're in search of a battery, a 15-pound gel cell that was pulled out of our check-in baggage at YVR. We take a taxi to Nasser Square but the driver doesn't take us all the way there. We end up in a neighbourhood full of little stores with car parts, cel phones, local women's clothing (abayas and sheilas) – but no batteries. It's an interesting area, working class, with folks from the region, Africa and Central and East Asia. It's definitely not Dubai Marina, not the financial districts, where more Europeans abound. The distinction between first world and third world, of developed and developing economies, and the relationship between class and race is, like much the world over, very much in evidence on a surface, visual level.

We almost give up; the directions from various shopkeepers have yielded no results. After a short break of mutton biryani and overly sweet chai, we continue on, and this time after much zigging and zagging we stumble across shops with mechanical and industrial products, music to our eyes. We find a little store selling wiring, cables, solar panels, and batteries. They carry the sealed ones that can sit on their sides, with one that's not exactly the same amp-hours as ours stranded back home, but importantly, with the same dimensions so it can fit into the shelf welded under the Maraya: Sisyphean Cart's platform. Success! And for only a quarter of the price in Canada! As I speak to the wholesalers in my broken Mandarin, it turns out they're from my mother's home town of Ningbo; what a small world. Unfortunately I don't speak my mother's dialect, but there's a tiny bit of bonding that happens here, surprisingly, in Nasser Square.

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