Now that we are in country, there are some urgent tasks to do that we have been putting off for a long time. That means that I am spending more time than I used to at the computer.
Unfortunately, there is only one table in our apartment, the chairs are too low, and we can’t set the computer up high enough to get the monitor in the right position. That could eventually lead to back pain. The problem could be solved with an external keyboard so that I would not have to type directly on the laptop.
So we take off on a keyboard-hunt — that turns into another one of our great adventures. The problem is that the laptop is so modern that it no longer contains a PS/2-Port, but only USB (for you experts).
A friend advises us to try the shops in the harbor where imported products arrive. The first shopkeeper tells us right away, “No such thing. You will have to buy a PS/2 keyboard and connect it with an adapter in between. Across the street is a computer tinkerer who can put together the adapter for you.”
We take off on a keyboard-hunt
We inquire in three more shops, and all three say without hesitation, “No such thing.” So we ask the tinkerer. He is utterly amazed – of course we can get one.
After a little more discussion, he offers three options:
- We can go to airport and check out the shops there – they are sure to have one.
- Or he can go there and get the keyboard for us; that would only take a couple of days.
- Or if it is even more urgent, he can give us his used one if we don’t mind that it isn’t new.
That is typical of people here – super-helpful and creative in finding solutions like that. In the end, we are reluctant to take his used keyboard and decide to continue searching by ourselves. If we don’t find anything within a couple of days, we know whom we can ask again. Two days later the adventure continues.
The next shop already has the keyboard we want in its display window. But they only sell whole computers.… Another shop is a wrong address: it only has measuring instruments. Around the corner is another one with very helpful people. They don’t have a keyboard, but they know how it would work with an adapter. But they can’t find it.
Then I ask about a cordless keyboard I see on the shelf right in front of me. They explain that the mouse doesn’t work, but I don’t need it. Then we notice that this keyboard doesn’t have the Arabic alphabet anyway. We laugh together, thank the clerk, and leave.
We know there is one more street with computer shops. If that doesn’t work, we’ll give up and ask the friendly tinkerer for help. In the next shop – this is the ninth one – the people say, as in the first one, that you can’t get it in this country. But they immediately call someone who ought to know more. After a few minutes it’s obvious: nothing to hope for here. Even as dealers they have trouble getting it.
A little farther along is another shop. I decide to try one last time. And what do you know — a keyboard with PS/2, the national alphabet, and an adapter, all for 16 euros.
Bought it, hooked it up, and wrote this story…
Note: Mike, a friend of Arne, lived in Algeria for nearly two years in 2010-2011. He allowed us to publish some of his short comments on culture and language that he wrote in that time and sent to friends.