If a person can buy something she can jolly well get at half price back home, just because she happens to be on holiday and that by itself is license to fling money at shopkeepers who charge an arm and a leg and half a brain just because one does not know the local language, what would you call her?
Yup. I have a disease that should be named after me. The Kiran Manral Syndrome. It flared up with a fresh outbreak while I was in Bengaluru. So there I was, peak cap firmly in place, sunlotion applied on exposed part of body skin and double layer on the face (none of which worked, let me tell you, Neutrogena sunblock SPF 40 is for sissier suns not for the I’ll bake you, I’ll grill you version that shines over this city), walking shoes on, corns and shoe bites bandaged and ignored, waterbottle kept in humunguous handbag for fainting with the heat of excessive shopping moments, marching into little holes in the wall down Commercial street and Brigade road and demanding they give me all their merchandise at half price. Yes, even the hijabs. God knows what I would do with them, but I figured I always had some relatives I could gift them to. And maybe they would have come handy to save one’s skin from the heat.
Coming from Mumbai, the first thing that struck me about the shopping centres in Bengaluru was that everything was at least twice the cost of what it is in Mumbai. And chucking that happy thought aside, I went forth to buy more, like the Good Lord had commanded. Any of you going to pick up your fancy tops in those shops in Arihant Plaza? Come to Mumbai, you’ll get your air ticket reimbursed by the money you save.
I discovered here that I had a money conscience after all, which wouldn’t let me fork out Rs 700 for a top that I could bag for Rs 350 in Mumbai. The only sane store seemed to be Hum India, which is also in Mumbai but considering it is located at Linking Road, also the Mecca of shopping in my city, and too far away for me to get there, without packing overnight clothes and writing my will out, I shopped to my heart’s content there. Will always shed fat tears at the wonderful leopard print slip on block heeled number that my feet practically floated in, and which I almost contemplated stuffing with newspaper in order to wear, so in love I fell with them. Of course one shoe shopped, since nothing else justified spending so much (see, see, I must make it a point to bring to your notice the emergence of my newbie shopping conscience, maybe there’s hope for me yet!). A place called Shoe Factory, very innocuous from the outside, on Commercial or Brigade road, I forget which, all the roads have merged into one amorphous whole swirl of gadzillion shops, had a couple of racks full of special offer shoes. Aka shoes from the age of the dinosaurs which were just sitting on their shelves and refusing to move like them donkeys in the middle of the road who you pass in the morning and find in the exact same position, with same mopey expression when you return in the evening. I, hold your breath, found Tommy Hilfiger wedge heels there for Rs 250. I think they brought over some old shoes, and splashed some water on my face to revive me when I chanced on those. But the same old story. I would need to surgical extend my feet to have a passing chance of even daring to walk in them, so I passed on two, and picked up a pair that fit, somewhat. I’ll figure how to get walking in them. Couldn’t pass on such a bargain. Maybe I’ll pass them on. Size nine please apply.
Then there was the mandatory gifting shopping. Gifting is a huge thing in the family. If you go anywhere even for a day you are expected to return laden with gifts for everyone and their maids. I guess if one was arrested and thrown into the slammer, one would be hunting the floor for souvenirs to take home as keepsakes. So one trooped off to the saree stores to get sarees, fabric stores to get fabrics, kurtas, tshirts and perfumes for the men folk. Yes, yes, given that the saree wearers have now become all uppity and don’t wear the traditional numbers the south is famous for, one bought chiffons that one could have bought anywhere. At better prices to boot.
Strangely enough, except for the husband who always splashes out with fancy pressies, involving names like Fendi, Longines and Versace and Prada, the rest of the populace need a crash course in gifting. Or maybe, as I got told once, your tastes are too fancy for our budgets. Must remember to use that line when I forget to pick up stuff for any person expecting a ‘I had a great trip return gift.’
Can anyone explain to me why I always get gifted bedsheets and nighties by the family? Two things that don’t excite me at all. And considering the nighties are usually shrouds with embroidery, they don’t excite the husband too. What is the message being passed on here? Are our walls too thin?
My best purchase in Bengaluru? Nothing. As usual the child got to reap the benefits of me not finding anything worth my while to pick up. I go back with twice the number of his Tshirts that I’d got along.
I came with three bags. I go back with five. Two of which are bursting to the seams with gifts. Come to think of it, I should wear red at the airport and stick on a white beard, got the paunch to match.