Retail Therapy

Today, I accompanied E Vestigio across the city. When I say across, I mean literally across. In the space of 6 hours, I’ve passed dug-up roads, flyovers, under-rail subways, main roads, a highway, bylanes and market roads. I’ve been inside a mall, foodcourt, chain store branches, thronged a bazaar, hunted down an inner-lane shop and bargained with roadside vendors. We started at Oberoi Mall, Goregaon East and worked our way south-westward ending at Santacruz station market.

Now ostensibly, today’s trip was her agenda, with routes, destinations and shopping lists laid out in careful detail. So how is it that I find I’m now in possession of three new handbags, two pairs of sandals, a ring, a bangle, an almost tee-shirt (returned for reasons we won’t get into now) and three packs of to-fry cheese fingers?

Let’s see, there was Inc.5 with whom my only experience so far has been these delightful creatures. If I hoped for a repeat of that, I was rather lured away by E’s more sensible and stable choices. I rather regret not picking up the omelette-yellow sandals.

Then there was the mannequin wearing a tee-shirt depicting ‘Him’ and ‘Her’ display signs, the kind you see on toilet doors in malls. Of course I had to check it out. I saw a really cool racer-back with a print of ghungroo-clad feet. Voila! It fit! It was only after I paid and looked at the bill, did I realize that I’d been charged about a third more than what was on the price tag. The salesgirl sniffed and stated pointedly that the price tag showed the material cost while any print was extra. E came to my rescue (or perhaps kept me from throwing a shopper-tantrum and screaming my head off). The tee was returned and we left. Oh well, the print wasn’t that great and anyway I can paint it on myself. Huh.

We lunched in the foodcourt, the largest, most varied one I’ve ever seen and it prompted me to exclaim,

The only other place I’ve seen such a food court is in Heathrow airport!!

Oberoi Mall has successfully pulled off what none of its earlier counterparts in the areas could. It combines the cool of the western suburbs’ InOrbit while also catering to the more ethno-diverse population in the eastern suburbs. Town be damned, Mumbai’s disposable income is never more visible than in the suburban malls. There is a certain new-money loudness in these places. There is also a refreshing lack of world-weary cynicism. E gushed and gushed about the food court before capturing our mood with,

Such simple things make us joyful, no?

Yes, indeed. We remember shopping centers, neighborhood kiranas and restaurant food. Malls, food courts and glitzy stores are still a big, very big deal in our lives.

As we were leaving, I just had to check out Rhysetta. Esbeda introduced me to colourful-but-classy bags; it was good to find another brand that offered the same. I was intrigued by a bright yellow bag with a black handle. The sunshine colour seems to have been my theme today. E very pointedly said,

If you wear them all together, you’ll be a dirty fellow.

…which of course meant I had to take the green instead. It’s neon green, not a dull/sensible colour by any stretch but I’m still rather in lustful desire with that yellow bag. Maybe I’ll trip back tomorrow to do an exchange. (Forgive me E, you’re just going to wear sunglasses when you see me next!!)

There was a black sequined bag I almost bought except that its strap looked more like a fracture-cast bandage on my arm than the mock-bracelet it was supposed to be. Undeterred, I stopped at another bag shop while E walked into the FabIndia. None of my shortlisted choices met with her approval though, so I walked out purchaseless. FabIndia, on the other hand, never failing to please, put me in possession of two bags. One is blue raw silk with buttis print and metal kadas for handles. The other is a black silk with buttis and looks like an open envelope. How could I *not* buy those?! Money is to be made so it can be spent on such wonderful things (okay, after the basic necessities).

The bazaars outside stations are throwbacks to creditcardless student days of raste-ka-maal-saste-mein bargains. My loss of the yellow sandals still smarted so instead we made up by buying two pairs of gladiators, one black-with-metal riveting dominatrix and the other brown-with-bronze buckles sensible chic. E’s superb bargaining ensured these two cost me less than the price of that one yellow pair.

And when all of this was done, I had burned off enough of calories and water-atoms to be ravenous. So I picked up the cheese sticks for dinner.

Yes, it all makes sense in retrospect. Try telling that to my wallet, though.

E thanked me at the end of the day for accompanying her on her errands. I said, “No, thank you. I had so much fun!!” Now I think she should thank me again. You see, when I shop on my own, I usually know what I want and how, where and for how much I want to buy it.

But malls, display windows and charming streetside sellers aren’t designed for people like that. They are focused, diabolical strategies to target unsuspecting people who haven’t really been intending to buy anything at all!! A good friend isn’t someone who puts up with bad roads, horrible weather and crowded stores with you. All of that is part of the thrill of shopping. A good friend is the one who is willing to take that final risk of putting herself in the eye of the marketer’s fire. It’s really like being on a diet and agreeing to walk through the diary products section of the store with your friend who wants to get to green veggies on the other side!

But this is all said in jest. At the end of the day, my toes hurt, my scalp feels itchy from all the dust and my face muscles feel like they’re sagging along with my limbs. But I’ve had an uncommonly long chat with a good friend, laughing, discussing serious stuff, being silly, grumbling about men, work, life and such, bitching about prices, brands, styles and other people. E Vestigio, poppet, thank you, love.

I feel good. Retail therapy? Maybe it does work after all.

2 Comments so far

  1. Sharon (unregistered) on March 22nd, 2010 @ 10:03 am

    It always works for me .This is so typical, it took me back to my college days and those shopping trips..specially down fashion street and Colaba causeway :)

  2. Natuurtherapeut (unregistered) on March 29th, 2010 @ 1:06 am

    It’s not a good long-term solution! But i can make you happy for sure!

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