Huge departmental store. Puneites out in huge numbers. It is a sale. It is a festival. It is about muscle coordination, eye for detail and quick reflexes.
You didn’t understand. Well, let me explain.
One enters the departmental store with family. Family being missus, daughter and mother. One crosses the huge perfume and cosmetics section as fast as possible. Because things are on sale and if the women, by any given chance, do stop there itself, it is a huge dent on the pocket and one would be the sufferer. One carries limited cash and a few credit cards that are already near dangerous limits that Pavana dam even does not agree with.
So, one urges fast movement towards the upper floors.
Upper floor 1. Women floor. Or where things fashionable is only exclusively for women. So, one does some traffic gestures to adequately guide the willing women towards the fashion that they can or will wear and that are easy on the pocket. It needs good muscle coordination to keep a dead calm face when they do not go according to stated gestures and venture elsewhere where the fashion is more to their liking and is not easy on one’s pocket. Then, comes eye for detail. One walks across to a sundry rack where the discounts are great and latches onto a piece of rag for dear life and exclaims how beautifully done it is. The mother usually responds best because she feels her son is good at everything. Naturally. Then, the daughter responds because ultimately, it’s her Dad. She needs to pay some respect. Lastly, very unwillingly, very doubtfully, with a surly face that may have just seen a Ramsay film, the Missus responds.
Here’s where the fun begins. Mother is being explained to. Daughter is being dictated to. Not that she is listening, but when can dictate to her. Possibly. Sometimes. Missus is another story. She is being cajoled, buttonholed, propositioned to, for small yields in the direction one wants. Here is where quick reflexes come into being. One cannot let her go away from those discount racks and so one picks up some other sundry rags quickly like maybe a Raina on a Cricket field and the exclamations of “Oohs and Ahs” start. The Missus is again distracted by such animated exclamations sure enough to stroll over and see what the heck is the excitement all about.
Repeat the exercise over and over again. Till the gang of women gradually understand what one is up to and gives in to the ministrations keeping their own ideas and likings to themselves and surrendering to the whims of an overgrown boy with no money.
They buy on the floor. It’s when the good Mother states that she wants to buy something for the son. Great news. One immediately troops over to the next floor. Muscle coordination goes for a toss. Quick reflexes are only used for trooping into and out of trail rooms. Eye for detail is in plenty. Blue cannot go with grey. It needs Khaki. Such sort. Lots of time taken. But one eye is peeled to see whether the Missus and daughter do not retreat into the floor below. Because that can be calamity.
Purchases done. Sale discounts taken. Big smiles one has on his face as he has been able to out manoeuvre the flock. It’s when Missus announces she needs something.
Gloom descends. A man cannot win.
Indraneel Majumdar is a CEO of a hospitality and amusement company, owns a business, chases trivia and enjoys ‘slice of life’ situations. After spending many years in Pune and Mumbai, he now lives in Bengaluru. This column appears every Tuesday.
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