Diwali is the only time I do some shopping. Last Friday evening we went to StyleOne, the latest store to mushroom up in next door Adyar. My wife actually wanted to go to the real shopping hub of Chennai, simply called T.Nagar.
Unbeknown to my wife, the key factor in in me engineering this silent change of destination was neither some unbound discounts, nor grapevine stories of film actresses being sighted but the knowledge that StyleOne has an exclusive parking arrangement in the basement.
So, for a change, I did not have to hurriedly drop my wife at the doorstep of a T.Nagar shop and while she was busy getting attended to, roam around all the bylanes looking for a parking slot looking beggingly at the parking attendants to get noticed and awarded the coveted p-spot. My T. Nagar routine also includes making calls every few minutes ( My wife says they were actually just a minute apart) just to check with my wife if she was done looking for that green dupatta. But optimism does not always result in good fortune. Every time my phone rings, I would hope to hear my wife say she’s done, and all I need to do is pick her up and we head home for the warm dinner that’s waiting. But this is what I’d hear, “Honey, these guys don’t have that green. So I am into the next shop 200m away. Just make sure you join me there once you are done with the parking. And after this dupatta, I would also do some pavement shopping, so just look for some ATM and get some cash, these guys on the pavement are real nerds, you see, they don’t accept cards - I just spotted a good pair of chappals that was up on a deal”.
As we headed for StyleOne, I felt this time I was in control. If you are male and married, you would know what a rare feeling that is. Parking was guaranteed, no pavement shopping (though I had some money), some nearby eateries in mind. It all sounded so good. I was looking forward to this shopping trip!
Mars and Venus rotate around the sun
Now, control is a term that represents a relative and transient state. There was slight change in my comfort level, when upon asking my wife what she wanted to buy, her answer was that there was nothing in particular that she had in mind. Not to give up so easily, I made helpful suggestions, perhaps a salwar suit, or a sari, or pair of jeans is what she wanted. Now if you are an experienced co-shopper like me, you would know that it means danger. I kept my discomfort to myself. The parking was there anyway.
When she wanted to go to the children section that was one floor below the ladies section, I was truly alarmed. It was only a week back that we bought some dresses for our daughter. But patience, as you know, is the middle name of married men.
She selected a piece and wanted a bigger one. Then she picked up a piece and wanted a smaller one. The attendant could not help locate either one. The exercise repeated itself quite a few times, as I made my long pending call to my friend in Delhi.
The call was abruptly cut short by a roar. Another man, on phone standing almost next to me, was yelling to what appeared to his workplace subordinate. Then, his wife waved him from almost the other side of the hall, and before he cut the call and ran, all he said was, I-will-throw-you-out. To the guy on the phone, that is.
Soon, my wife declared that the shop was no good and started looking at the watch. I could say it was real soon because the Singapore GP rerun was not even over, only almost. Yes, it took only about an hour to know that the shop was no good.
The next day was a Saturday, and as soon as it was time for my afternoon nap, my wife had an idea. Would parking in T-Nagar not be a little easier if we go during the non-peak hour. It meant getting up right then. She wanted to shop for ‘nothing in particular’. On the way, I told her I would try parking a little to the north. “You mean near the camera shop?”, she asked as a matter of fact. I said yes, and explained that I would also spend a few minutes checking out the camera models, since our circa 2000 1.3 Megapixel camera looked a little outdated. “Common, it works”, I was almost slapping myself for considering wasting my millions on something so worthless as a camera!
Encounter by the Counter
Now if you consider yourself capable shopper husband, you would know exactly how to prepare in advance for the real shopping. That includes, of course, charging yours and your wife’s mobile phone completely before you go to the market, and pleasantly minding your time for indeterminate periods in the shop without mindlessly whining at the end of every hour. So, if you get nervous at the sight of 65 sarees on display on the table and still your wife seems looking for that elusive one piece, you better stand next to her with a straight face.
Now examine this situation very carefully, she puts her hand on one, indicating that one has been shortlisted, rejects the next five, shortlists two more, reject the next seven, shortlists the next three, till the point that the shortlist is about seventeen or eighteen strong. Then among those just rejected, shortlists two more. That makes it about twenty. By now the salesman gets extremely excited, and hopeful that he would achieve his days sales quota by this one customer, starts showing some more. By now the shortlist is about 31-32. The soft-drinks arrive in no time. So sorry you don’t like Coke that much, perhaps Limca, Mirinda? You are certain that the any moment your wife make a pronouncement on the final selection. The suspense is killing. From the shortlist, she keeps the blue one aside, indicating rejection, then the green one, then orange one till about seven are left. Then she asks for those seven to be spread on the table, the salesman complies, and does so one by one, uttering every time the virtues of that particular piece. And then the lady looks at the salesman and utters, “You don’t have anything good?”. Now, the salesman is not like an impatient husband who gives up so easily. He points to the next collection, a few feet away, and still appears so excited to make a sale. My wife does not even look at him and moves on.
That’s when the fully charged mobile phones come in handy. I tell my wife to carry on and call me on my phone when she is finished shopping, and head off to the computer accessories shop nearby - the laptop mouse’s not behaving smooth. Who knows, I may like the laptop itself- when I stole a look at the shop on my way in, they had some new banners reading ‘festival offers and new arrivals’. That’s some excitement finally.
The girl in the computer shop is, just by the way, very attractive. So I end up buying an 8GB thumb drive which I never felt the need of, and feel very very good. It would be foolhardy to miss such a good deal. I can think about the uses of this thumb drive once I reach home.
By then my wife calls. She finished her buys too. I help her with the packages containing ‘nothing in particular’ and head home.
Happy Diwali to you all.
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