Where “shopping basket” takes on a whole new meaning


With the lean towards being “green” many stores have produced organic, re-usable, long-life, or even eternal shopping bags. Even shopping trolleys/carts are no longer metal, but plastic and better for all.

It might be interesting for you to be introduced to a method of shopping in Egypt that many people do not know: the re-usable basket, organic, hand-made, and used in a unique way.


In Egypt today, you can order delivery on almost everything:

  • from cup cakes to headache tablets
  • pizza to shampoo
  •  ice cream to diapers

All you have to do, is pick up the phone, phone whichever shop, stall, restaurant, market, shop you like, and place your order. Many of them are now online, and orders can be placed without even speaking to anyone!

The order is then taken and the delivery man is despatched: either on foot, or bicycle, motorbike, car or van.


But in many apartment building there are no elevators (lifts) or they may not work, and people do not like to walk all those steps down and then back up laden with groceries. Also, many “cart shops” (shops on wheels) pass by on the streets below and there is no time to dress appropriately, go all the way down to the street level before the shop has moved on! So a novel idea became the norm: a basket with a rope, lowered down the outside wall of the apartment, to the delivery man / cart shop waiting below.

Usually this basket is made of reeds, or leaves, woven locally, or sometimes cheaply imported. Recently however, very fashionable baskets have appeared on the scened:

  • brightly colored
  • some with smiley faces on some of them
  • some covered in fluffy fabric
  • some with “bling” shiny jewels
  • and for the new bride, some shiny gold and silver

When I recently asked a friend of mine what her opinion was of these baskets, she vehemently expressed that:

“It is important/ vital/ necessary that EVERY house has one!”

Many apartment blocks have a small grocery or shop on the ground floor, or basement of the buildings, and it is easy to phone or call to the sellers on the street, alerting them that you wish to purchase some of their wares!


Once the order is made, the person upstairs will keep an eye out on the street to see when the purchases are ready to be hauled up. The empty basket will be lowered (some even from as high as 7 floors up) with the required amount of money. The delivery man / shop assistant will place the ordered goods into the basket, along with the change (unless he gets to keep this as a tip!). This basket will then be pulled up by the lady of the house…. which can take a while depending on which floor she lives.

Once the transaction is complete, the door/window will then be closed, the purchases unpacked and either the cooking started, the baby cleaned, the headache soothed or the cakes consumed.


So when you come and visit, take some time to glance upwards occasionally and see if you can spot one of the fancy baskets (or their older counterparts) being lowered or pulled back up the outside of an apartment building: it is a unique and interesting transaction to observe….. and if you like the idea, walk down a local market and try and buy one of the newest, shiniest, fanciest ones for yourself!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *