Strolling in a swanky mall, I check into a multi-brand chain. My eyes quickly scan through the array of sections, each of them screaming for attention with the popular brand names. I don't have a shopping plan with me and breeze into the clothes section. I flit from one rack to another stand, feeling the fabric at a counter or checking out the size at another. I linger a bit longer when something particular catches my eye. Invariably, my fingers reach for the price tag even as I look. It's almost a reflex, I realize.
With a special occasion coming up, the better half encourages me to simply take what I liked. I really like to call the man my better half at such times. While I love taking a dig at him for not surprising me with expensive gifts, the truth is that he has never stopped me or questioned my purchases ever. Perhaps, he's really confident that I won't go overboard.
Indeed, I cannot help feel that almost everything on board is ridiculously priced. Buyers are charged not only for the look of the garment but also for the brand value plus the fact that it is showcased in an upscale mall in an affluent city. Phew, that itself is many times over what the fabric and stitching alone would cost. I belong to the quintessentially salaried class that is habituated to ask, "how much?" while mentally calculating its real worth. I'm awed by people around me who look cool, sure of their choices, and do not bat an eyelid while swiping their plastic cards. Can I do that ever?
I'm struck by an epiphany just then, that this schism is no longer dictated by the depth of the pockets. The wallet might agree but the mental conditioning doesn't. I like to exit a shop knowing that I've got value for the amount paid. Any wonder, I love the end of season sale? Also, I'm too simplistic to find happiness in owning a Louis Vuitton because I'll be fixated on the hole it's burning in my purse. Yet, in perhaps smaller ways, I'm inching closer to the nonchalant buyer class.
I look thoughtfully at the ensemble I've selected before hitting the trial room. A few more trips back and forth and the husband is clearly bored but I think," haven't I only just begun?". I can't really blame him because he finished his shopping in 15 minutes flat and here I was asking him for the hundredth time if the dress looked good enough to buy.
I can't help it. A piece that looks great on the hanger ends up fitting snugly at weird places. Choose a size larger and it hangs awkwardly. If the cut is beautiful and compliments me, there's just a single colour available and it's not what I want. To top it all, there's a silly voice in my head telling me that I've made a mistake in choosing to shop from outlet A instead of the usual B. I quickly shut it up because it's close to an hour and a half and I'm nowhere close to finalizing the purchase.
And, you know where the time slips away like a sand dune in the midst of a tornado? In between trying out an apparel, finding it unsatisfactory, selecting another size or color, then hitting the trial room once again. Oh, before that waiting at the ever stretching queue in front of it. Ideally, I'd like to take two sizes of the same garment multiplied by at least three or four different sets with me to minimize the ordeal. But, that's wishful thinking because the attendant is waiting like Yama to take back the extra ones I try to sneak in. Only 3 garments at a time she says dismissively and I feel like the student who has been chastised by the teacher at the school.
I finally end up at the billing counter. I should feel happy but I'm too worn out by the shopping ordeal and also presently trying to snub that voice in my head which is annoyingly back. Now, it says that perhaps I should have gone for the blue floral top instead of the slightly flashy red one that is being currently billed. Close to getting a panic attack, I'm torn between telling the guy at the counter that there has been a mistake and pulling myself together. I choose the latter. I hold out the card confidently, watch it getting swiped, force a satisfied smile and dash out of the mad place.
Please tell me I'm not the only crazy person around?