The other day, I went shopping to the nearest mall. As a rule, I’m not very fond of shopping, especially for clothes. I’m not saying this just to sound swag, I really do dislike it. The thing is, if you want to go shopping, either you should have a good figure, or you should be wealthy enough to buy clothes that hide your defects. If you have both, obviously you belong to a class of people I hate on principle, and if you have neither, welcome to the club.
So there I was, looking for something that had the dimensions of a circus tent but didn’t look like one, when the chatter around me started to increase, and in less than 30 minutes, the place had filled up completely with women of all sizes and shapes, almost like a local train ladies compartment, only with clothes racks instead of seats. I looked at my brother, bewildered at this sudden influx of girls, and he pointed to a label on a nearby rack. It was a Sale Day, and some clothes had 70% off (this was actually 70% off, not the crafty increased-by-70%-then-discounted). I started to sweat (yes, literally also, because it was very crowded). Usually I buy clothes only twice a year, and a few here and there in between, and always make sure there is no sale anywhere within 2 km of me. Because a Sale is The Apocalypse. If you grab one top, 10 other women will grab at it simultaneously on principle. They might or might not go through with the purchase, but they will do it anyway, because why are there 3 girls fighting for that top? Let me also get in the fray, never mind that I weigh 20 kilos and you can probably put two of me into this XXL sized top. Just like IIT, only you are fighting for clothes instead of a seat in premier Indian institutions. Sales are the only time IIT-JEE seems easier.
Anyway, I decided to fight it out; I would not budge without at least 5 good tops, whatever happened. So I snatched whatever piece of cloth looked big and not-ugly enough and proceeded to the trial rooms. There was a queue there, and I couldn’t see, let alone find, the end of it. I followed the long winding line of ladies and ended up at the entrance to the shop, where it intersected with the line for baggage deposit and terminated in absolute chaos. I slid in at random between a harassed looking boyfriend who was trying not to look at the pretty girl in front of him and a 55 year old father who was obviously just starting to realise there were only two sofas in the whole of the shop and that his arthritis would be putting in a special appearance soon. It then took me 45 minutes to reach near the head of the queue, where, as it turned out, a fight was just about to begin.
Girl1 (call her G1) was glowering angrily at Girl2 (G2), while the latter was also giving the former the dragon-eye. Apparently, G1 had tried to shove her way into one of the dressing rooms before G2, and that very legitimate heir of the room had managed to shove her back, with the result that, like in the story of the cats and the monkey, an entirely unrelated outsider had managed to inherit the throne trial room and was even now whistling cheerfully from within, while G1 and G2 glared at each other in barely controlled fury and muttered dark curses under their breaths. The twin volcanoes erupted when the former occupant of the room opened the door and strolled out and away to finally-I’ve-decided-what-to-buy heaven, apparently oblivious to the damage she had caused to two blood pressures. Predictably, G1 and G2 scrambled to get in first again, but G1 was not going to be easily outwitted this time around. She promptly burst into tears and G2 drew back in shock, not having expected this daily soap behaviour. Snuffling into her I ❤ NY handkerchief, G1 blubbed, “See, actually, I’m getting married next month, so it’s just so much pressure, you know..” and dissolved into sobs again. G2, hearing this, was just beginning to look slightly sympathetic, when there was a big crash and we all turned around. A young man had collided with one of the racks and was now lying on the floor draped in three pink nighties and a purple duck patterned pyjama, looking up at G1 in shock bordering on terror. “What?! Next month?! Are we getting married next month, G1? But I had no idea…” G1 had by now stopped howling and was furiously trying to gesture to the young man (obviously her boyfriend, let’s call him B1), and G2, having gotten hang of the situation, began to look furious again, her face steadily turning a rich crimson. B1, on the ground, was still blabbing, “…unless you are getting married to someone else, in which case you’ve been cheating on me”, and suddenly stopped, looking very sad. G1 had had enough, “Shut up! No one is marrying anyone, understand? Get up, get up!” she hissed; B1, absolutely befuddled, decided to revert to the one thing he knew best, “Okay then, I’m really hungry..could we go to KFC?” This was the last straw. G1, losing control completely, threw all the clothes she was holding onto B1 (who was, incidentally, still prostrate), glared at G2, burst into actual tears this time, and stomped off. G2, half furious that she had nearly fallen for G1’s sob story, and half happy that the room was finally hers, picked up the clothes and boyfriend G1 had discarded, sashayed off to the changing room and thence to KFC. Everyone in the queue returned to their phones, disappointed that the entertainment had lasted for all of 5 minutes.
So, four hours of cat-fights (when push comes to shove, I can be very violent; that is one thing everyone learns from the 8.32 am CST local), three hours of unsuccessfully trying to evoke a Priyanka Chopra from the mirror reflection, and about an hour of reflection on hedonistic existentialism later, I was finally standing in front of the cash counter with seven of my conquests in hand, having got through the Third World War successfully, or so I thought, until the cashier reached out her hand for my clothes. Smiling politely, she fed something into those blasted digital calculators and, still smiling politely, named a price nearly thrice my own estimate. I stared at her, hoping I had heard wrong, but it was not to be. The thing is, she explained, still with that silly grin on her face, out of the stuff I had selected, three were 70% off only if bought with a set of three from the same brand, another three were only 70% of the price (i.e. 30% discount), and the only one left was a 50% off without any frills, which, in effect, meant that I had wasted five whole hours and bought one top. One. ONE.
I burst into internal tears, bought that one top, and stumbled out of the shop, mortally wounded. WWIII had had its say. So the moral of the story is, don’t leave your boyfriends and clothes lying around, and don’t ever trust a sale, ever.
P.S. I did go early the next morning (Sunday, sale was still on) and bought a huge amount of stuff before G3, G4,….,G100 could even get started on their Sunday brunch.