A visit to the Shopping Mall… No it is not an essay that I was supposed to write at School. It was a visit that I was supposed to take. … … I call myself a weekender. Or at least I pretend to call myself that. Because a true one travels during the weekends to new places, while I sit at my place and let my mind travel to new places. But weekends are different when your parents visit you, especially your mother. It all starts, in my case at least, with your mother and your neighbor, Mrs. Someone, talking to each other about a new mall built at some place. And then, they see you slumped on the couch, watching a series, and an idea sprouts… “Hey beta! You’re not doing anything… Why don’t we all go to the mall?!!” someone will announce. And that will be the start of doom for your weekend. Hardly it is the other way that we visit the mall because we actually have a list of things to buy there. My first question to this announcement is always “What do you want to buy?” to which their absurd reply is “We’ll see what’s available there…” And I’m like ‘Every thing’s available there!!’ But that expression doesn’t count very well to them. This made me think about it that why the malls have been an instant success, replacing the local specialized shops in the market? And to find this answer, I took them to the mall, to let my observation out in the open to let it do what it does best. The structure of a good mall is very clear and organized. Each category of products is clearly separated and stacked so that one can easily find items of their choices. So one would generally look for the category and walk in that direction to find their item. This way, our purchase would be organized, even when we have a properly crafted shopping list. However, this is not the way people actually shop. They enter the mall and start analyzing the first item they see in the first category nearest to the main door. Then they move on to the next item, and the next category, unless it is the end of the mall. If you think about it, the mall has almost killed the concept of ‘a shopping list’. People no longer look for the item they intend to buy, they look at the item and decide their intention to buy. And we are often very bad at making such decisions, resulting in overbuying. Then there are some people who just love to look at different available products. It is a fun time for them. They just go through the whole list of items available in the mall and look at the size, ingredients, material, tags, price, quality, brand, discounts, design, etc. for all of them. Although, they want to purchase none of them, still window-shopping, as they call it, is fun, at least for them. And for people like me, who are there only to drag the shopping cart around them are the most traumatized victims of this approach. And that day when I was accompanying my mother and my neighbor to shopping, I was one of those victims. I used to ask her before that what quantity of products is she going to buy, so that I can decide whether to take the cart or just the hand-basket. But with my experience, I know their answer is always an under-estimate for both the quantity of items bought and the time taken overall. The mall’s tag line is ‘We have something for everyone!’ Something for everyone… Be it kids, teenagers, adults, love-birds, newly weds, newly parents, workers, artists, elderly people or aliens. The mall has something for all of us. Isn’t it cool? No… Not for people like me! I got past the security check faster than the ladies I was accompanying. So I went ahead of them and walked around the mall. The entrance of the mall had two sides, one for groceries and consumables, the other side was household plastics and utility-wares section. I skipped both of them and moved on. At the kids’ section, several little devils were playing with stuffed toys and different sized balls. It was a mayhem, but no one cared. This section was not built for shopping, this was so that the kids allowed their parents to shop in peace. I saw a little boy, dressed in adorable baby suit and baby trousers, bring a red-plastic-rose from somewhere and present it to a little girl, dressed in black frock. She accepted it and smiled at the boy. While the boy went zooming around the area, dancing and skipping on his way, the girl gave the rose to another boy sitting next to her, who rejected it by throwing away the rose. The girl sat there in despair, while another boy picked up the rose from the floor and presented it to an adult girl in her twenties. She awed at him and kissed him on his cheeks, to which I felt really jealous of. Moving on to the next section, fashion and accessories, I saw people of all age group seriously analyzing the items on display. While everyone liked what they saw, but half of them were in dilemma that the things won’t look as good on them as they look on the dummy doll with chiseled abs and perfect muscles. I saw an elderly couple looking at new trends in fashion. The elderly man was trying to convince his wife that the tees would look nice on her on their Goa trip, and that she shouldn’t wear a saree on the beach. But it seemed he was having a hard time convincing her. In the books and magazines section, I found all kinds of weird people. Some were so engrossed in the covers of the books that I thought of selling just the covers to them and give away the books to actual readers. While some were just scanning first page of the book to decide on their buying, some people just turned all the pages of a book, probably looking for pictures. I wondered when will motion pictures will be the new books of this age. In the household corridor, I saw several newly web couples trying, pathetically, to accord on a particular design of the crockery that will best match their home. While, a bachelor group of guys just picked up things nearest to their hand’s stretch in less than a second. They even made a poorly portrayed sexual joke on the round handle-less bowls. While a particular area was filled with several ladies, resulting in a jam. Each one of them was examining a particular product, its price and other attributes, probably detailing it to the molecular level of metal. Then I reached the upholstery section, where long and maze like shelves covered both the sides of the path. One could easily hide in these sections, and it was the least crowded area of the mall at that time. I turned at the end of a shelf and bumped into love-birds. They were roving through the tall display galleries, playing their games of brisk touches and teased eye-contacts. I let them play at peace and moved on. After several other sections and such observations, I reached back at the starting of the mall. It would be a bewilderment for me if I had not been accustomed to this, but it was not. I casually parked my cart just behind where my mother and her friends were looking at some plastic alternative of some household product. I had walked around the whole mall, while they were still stuck at the very first shelf of the very first section of the mall. I sighed. But then mother looked happy, so I let them take their time. God bless me, I said… of course in my head. 😛
This time, when I was traveling alone, going back to my parent’s place, my two forms of writing mixed up. I had another almost while waiting for the Bus driver to whistle.
My bus was to arrive in about an hour. I have had my dinner and it was an overnight run, so I was desperately waiting for my bus to arrive. Nothing exciting was expected from this travel, as usual. It was supposed to be one of those travels that I don’t write about, that I hardly even remember. Guess I was wrong about that.
The bus-stand was about a few meters away from the waiting area. And for informing the fellow travelers about a bus’s arrival, the driver used to blow a sharp, loud whistle. The fascinating thing about it was that people in the waiting area always knew whether the bus driver’s whistle was for their bus or not. Or so it seemed. Or maybe the buses were all strategically timed that no two buses coincide on a single time, making a whistle unique for that time.
I was wondering about all this as I had nothing better to do. My phone was about to die and I had to keep it at rest for it to live up till the morning when I will reach my destination.
I was humming a song, or a tune, I don’t really remember. But I remember that instant when a bus driver’s whistle made me look towards the exit of the sitting area and then quickly back to the wall infront of me, as if I had seen a ghost.
She was dressed in peach-colored some-kind-of-top and the legendary blue jeans. And yet I felt a blurry outline around her persona, I saw a live-portrait of her. Her hair was rolled up hurriedly, a bodkin was visible. And she was wearing no makeup at all. Yet she managed to portray such an eye-candy.
I looked away as soon as I looked at her, and she had already caught me looking at her in that 2 seconds of time-line. I stared at the wall opposite to me, and continued with my humming, which had increased its pace to several beats up the bar.
Every time such a situation happens with me, me and some stranger, either I fart words so bad that the other person runs away or I don’t do anything at all. And I wished this time wouldn’t be so. I prayed…
With almost impossible turn of events, she came up and sat beside me. I figured that all other unoccupied seats had some weirdo sitting on the next seat. And I looked a good guy on my first impression, to be honest.
I didn’t want her choice to be proved wrong. So I didn’t do anything impulsive or stupid. Really, I did nothing. I casually sat there, and just sat there. She was listening to some sort of music and was deleting multiple pics from her phone. I came to know it afterwards that my humming had stopped somewhere in the middle of this chaos.
But then somehow I found that in proving her decision to be right, I was just letting go of this opportunity. I liked her and wanted to know more of her. And if I do not speak, I won’t ever find out if I had a chance.
So I started rehearsing our conversation in my head, several iterations, several scenarios practiced. I gathered up my courage and straightened up my posture to bring out my voice which had gone deep down my guts, and was hidden somewhere in my intestines.
The bus driver’s whistle blew, a bus’s arrival was announced. Everyone around me got up and went towards the stand. I watched her go as she gathered her luggage and glided towards the bus.
A fly flew inside my mouth and I choked on my open mouth, ready to speak “Hi”. I coughed continuously till I had the damn fly out of my food pipe and got up clumsily to see her climb the bus. Even if I ran, I didn’t stand a chance to reach there in time, if I ran that is, hypothetically.
Next in half an hour or so, my bus arrived and I got the usual boring seat beside a fellow who snored all the way to my stop. I couldn’t dare to sleep and see the whole episode of my failure all over again. So I decided to stay up, watch through the window, the objects fly by me, in a blink of the eye, like the opportunities in my life.
This time, my solo travel diary was almost an epitome of me being a loser, well, almost a loser.
Remembering that hide n seek game and those series of emotions that flowed in the hidden light of the night’s darkness.
We were running frantically towards the end of the street. We had 30 more counts before he would open his eyes and would see us running, holding hands…
My heart was pounding, not just because we were running out of our breaths, but because we were running together. Without any prior planning, we both had simply looked at each other and at that second had decided that we were gonna hide together in this game.
She was holding my hand so tightly, almost pulling me along with her. Probably her excitement was more than mine, or probably her fear. She didn’t look back, towards her brother, who was counting with his eyes closed up against the tree. She was a rebel, and that day she showed it.
The count was almost complete. All of our other friends had already chosen their hiding place and were almost invisible unless, ofcourse you knew already their usual hiding place. We knew where everyone used to hide, quite easy to mark an area where each one of them used to hide. We were running towards a new area altogether.
He announced his hunt beginning with a roar, declaring that soon he’s gonna catch all of us.
I smiled. “Not us, not today.”
We took a sharp left at the end of the street and then a right and disappeared in the maze of turns, till when we reached a deserted neighborhood leading to a dead-end.
We looked for a place where we could hide, from everyone. There was an old van, rusting at the end of the street. It was dark, and probably this part of the neighborhood had no residents. Not even stray animals could be seen. Was it luck or something fishy; Mr. Fate’s prior warning before he hits hard, I thought.
We went behind the van. It was parked right ahead of a street parkbench, such that the bench was not visible in any way unless you move around the car all the way to its back.
We went and hid behind the bench. We felt like tiny people as we could easily be hidden behind the bench from head to toe.
She finally let go of my hands. Holding hands… So pure, simple, emotional, and sweaty… Uncomfortable.
I sat there rubbing my hands on my jeans, slowly wiping off the sweat of it. Just then, she grabbed my shirt and pulled it so hard that I was pulled along with it. She asked in an anxious tone “They won’t be able find us here, will they?”
I was about to shrug when she herself said “No they won’t. This is the perfect place.”
I continued staring at her. She was beautiful beyond my ability to describe her beauty. So I won’t. But yes, she was way beyond my league.
We sat there talking about various possibilities, fantasies about what could happen if they catch us here. She was not willing to become the seeker, no matter what. Almost all of her plans had me showing myself up and then taking the seeker with me, keeping her safe. So much for the game, I thought. But in the end, she will again say “Nah! I won’t let you go…”
Time passed, rather quickly than I thought (read ‘than I wanted’). She occasionally touched my hands, and I rather skillfully took my hands away. Hey! Don’t judge me! It was summer and I hated sweat. I’d rather prefer something equally emotional and direct, not involving sweat.
I think she sensed it too, as her lips had tightened and she was looking at me without blinking, from my eyes to my neck, and back. Her neck was tilted and I could almost hear her heart beats, which were risen way up above normal excitement level.
There was mumbling sound nearby and then a ruckus, and our whole gang, one after other, appeared out of nowhere in the street that we were hiding in. They were laughing at the seeker, who had been trying to find them since last half hour, but had no luck in doing that. (It was half an hour already?!!)
I saw them coming towards us, scanning and analyzing the street for some good hiding place, and then I saw her pale and disappointed face. She was looking at me, her expressions were hard to describe. But they said “Damn!”
I gave her the ‘its fine’ expression and she nodded.
We had not disclosed anything to each other yet about our desires or intentions or imaginations, but I think they would have been same for both of us. We couldn’t do what we wanted to do that day, but being 10 year old toddlers, we hardly cared. We soon blended with out friends and forgot the whole episode.
Now I don’t even remember what was it that we wanted to do that time, but it doesn’t matter. After all, what could possibly be in an innocent 10 year olds mind!?
A series of funny and interesting incidents that happen with me and my family.
Now for those of you who found this title weird and think that what’s wrong in doing this, kindly consider that I come from a dry state and here no one would have ever seen me drinking before.
So this happened when I had gone to a different state for giving my presence in my sister’s wedding. This state doesn’t have restrictions on drinking and it’s very normal for people to drink.
It was sangeet night, the night when there’s open battle of dancing between bride’s side and groom’s side. Battle is namesake, everyone just wants to enjoy and dance.
We were on the dance floor and we almost had forgotten where we were and who all were watching us. Our concentration was mainly on dancing and impressing people in nearby vicinity.
But then suddenly, someone from our group comes with a bottle of water and offers it to everyone while drinking it himself. Being from a dry state, you never suspect a water bottle and humbly accept it with gratitude. So did I while taking a big gulp from the bottle, till that person took it away from me.
But as the vodka drains down your throat and every thing it touches heats up, you know that it’s too late… In my case, I came to know it a little later when it has successfully landed on my stomach bed.
I ignored it and kept dancing. Good thing is that a few gulps doesn’t do any harm / good to me. I stay sober nonetheless. I didn’t see anyone around me. But back in my mind, I knew that everyone had seen me drink from that bottle.
When my eyes accidentally met my mom’s, she immediately gestured me to come down the dance floor and talk. And I knew it will be a serious talk.
I somehow managed to keep a calm face, innocence on it. As I didn’t suspect the water bottle to contain anything else than water, so I couldn’t be held guilty, I thought.
She asked me did I drink anything that anyone else offered? This was a truth test. I passed. I told her what happened, exactly as it happened. She warned me to not accept anymore drinks from anyone as there it was normal for those people. I silently obliged…
I went back to the dance floor, handled the repercussions of the vodka on my body and danced my heart out. Again, everyone around me was a bit drunk, and ditzy. Whereas, I was sober, as far as dizziness is concerned. We all danced like maniacs, but the thought came to my mind afterwards that people might have thought that it was vodka that made me dance crazy…
When I came back from the dance floor, ready to leave the party, I felt thirsty. I grabbed a water bottle from a nearby waiter. My mom instantly snatched it from me and tasted it herself to check that it was actually water. I smiled at her while taking back the bottle, but I was thinking… How different people see a particular act, when they come from a different background and environment!
Anyways, the night went well, and vodka gulp didn’t have any visible effect on me. Fingers-crossed…
Not all of us love shopping. Some of us suck at it, while some of us even get scared of the thought of it. So how does someone like me feels when it comes to shopping… Let’s see.
First of all, when it comes to purchasing something, I’ll just explain myself that I don’t need it. Then after several days or months of finding ways to survive without those things, I’ll finally accept the fact that I need to buy that thing.
No no… This doesn’t mean that I’ll just go there and buy stuff. No. I’ll add that thing in my shopping list. That’s it for now.
Then finally my shopping list will be large enough to call for a day, probably weekend, to go out for shopping.
No, I don’t go shopping here either. My weekend will go finding other stuff to do, trying to persuade my mind that those things are more important than going shopping.
I’ll search on online websites for the products that I want. Scroll and scroll and scroll to find a perfect choice, but then again, there are other websites, which might have different price. So, I’ll just search again on other websites, and again the cycle will repeat. Even if I find a good choice, I’ll just not be able to add it to the cart.
Finally, working without the things becomes difficult, I will not be able to take it more, or probably as someone else has forced me, I’ll go for shopping…
Sulking as it was the shopping day finally, I will just do whatever I can to delay the process. But in the end, I’ll have to go to shopping that day.
Now the first task would be deciding the place to go shopping, deciding on the list of shops. Based on the product that I intend to buy, the options available will be plenty. This is supposed to be a good thing, but not for someone who hates shopping. So, I will pass time asking several friends and strangers about good shops.
Finally I will narrow down to a list of shops where I would set out for finding the products. I will plan my route of transport and will start the journey… preparation for the war actually.
And as soon as I reach the first shop, the war begins…
With so many options and different prices for each options, I will start comparing and evaluating options based on several criteria. Actually, such an evaluation solves the problem of choice for people, but for me, it narrows down to a few favored options. And choosing between them is the actual war. And know that, for me, that’s not easy…
Not just the choices of products, I will even start visiting several shops. This will add more choices to my list, thus complicating it more.
And to add to my problems, I have no idea what do I want actually. What looks good on me, what makes me happy or what do I like out of all the options – I will have no answers to all these questions. And thus, I will not be able to choose from the options.
All these problems combined makes shopping the most difficult task for me. Dilemma from the problem of choice, anger due to lot of options and being unable to choose any, and melancholic feeling from the whole process of shopping makes me feel miserable in the end. Due to this, even after buying something, I will hardly like it as it took a toll out of me while buying that.
At the end of the day, I’d sit in one corner and mope about the purchase that I made, and feel sad for the loss of money that happened. And that night, it will take me great trouble falling asleep.
So, these were my shopping blues…
Dreaming reality, while on a walk to some destination, narrated by an out of control mind…
Just five more minutes of morning sleep… And you have your schedule delayed. As that five more minutes turn into hours of extra sleep. And as you know, the things we have to do in the morning cannot be skipped. Hence, only option we are left with is to get late.
This was one such morning for me. After the fight with all the things in my house, which were trying to make me more late than I already was, I entered the lift to go down to my vehicle. The boring music in the lift didn’t help better my mood at all. But that reminded me that my vehicle at the mechanics’ garage and I had to take some other means of transport. Damn!
I tried my luck with public transportation and private auto, but as the distance was not that much, none of them seemed to agree at an affordable price. So I had to take a long walk in the warm and soothing light of the global-warming-pissed-off-sun…
It was just a 5 minute ride from my home to the place I had to reach. But when walking in that heat, it would take more than 15-20 minutes. I had totally dropped the idea of getting a lift from someone, as people usually do not help strangers walking on the road, no matter how well they are dressed or look, as recent news stories are rather scary…
To make my “long short walk” less loathed, I started playing by myself while walking. I measured the maximum distance I could cover with my legs stretched fully. I made my each leg compete each other as to which could break the maximum distance covered in one step. People work more rigorously while they are competing someone, they say. And that was working… I was walking faster than I would usually. I was walking in my own mood, swinging my arms and waving my head, like a seven year kid would do.
(But while doing this, I didn’t notice that it would have looked totally ridiculous walk to others. But I couldn’t care less… :P)
A gear-less bike slowed besides me, the girl riding that looked me walking ridiculously and then laughed and stopped the bike ahead of me.
I immediately corrected my walk, rather tried walking in a more “cool” way. But I think it didn’t work out, as she started laughing as soon as she saw me again. 😛
“Yeah I know that was funny. But that helped me walk several hundred meters in this pi- angry sun.” I justified myself, while carefully choosing my words to not swear. 😀
“Yeah! The heat is totally f**king us today!” she agreed and I felt relaxed to know that she was of “cool” nature.
“Hop on if you need a lift. But you have to promise me one thing…” she offered.
“What?” I wanted to say ‘Anything, ma’am’, but controlled my urges.
“You have to promise that you won’t behave like those needy weird jerks that I meet all the time.” she said.
“Well… Would me doing things like I was doing just when you came count in those weird stuff those jerks do?” I played with my words.
She laughed again, and said “Definitely not. That’s… well let’s just say… tolerable.” She laughed again.
I hopped on her bike and she drove off.
“So where to?” she asked.
I said my destination and came to know that we both had to go to the same destination. It was a relief to me and to her also. We don’t trust strangers these days, be the lift-asker or the lift-giver.
She applied a sudden brake and, if you know how those gear-less bikes are designed you would understand, I slid directly onto her and had to hold on to her waist tightly to not fall off from the bike.
“Sorry.” She said in her childish tone.
“It’s okay.” I said. After a while, I added- “From when girls started doing these tricks on bike? To play with the backseat person?”
She started laughing again. “No no…! It was not like that! There was a squirrel on the road. Seriously!” she said justifying her sudden braking. “Although, you gave me a great idea for next time.” she added, and then giggled, while looking back at me through the bike mirror.
I smiled plainly. (Although inside I was not just smiling… I was jumping! Leaping! Crazily waving my head and hands and shouting my heart out!)
“Don’t get your hopes high…” she said “…yet.” Again she played with me and I enjoyed being played that way. 😀
We reached our destination rather quickly than I thought. She was driving fast. Another thing that made me like her more.
“Thanks. You saved my day from ruining.” I said while getting off her bike.
“Yeah? How’s that?” she asked.
“Well, if I had walked all the way here, in this heat, I would have had a very bad mood. And then when that boss would shout at me for his own mistakes, I would have shot back at him and said things which I shouldn’t have. I would have then let out my anger on my friends, just because they let me to. And while going back home, due to the events of the whole day, I would have skipped my dinner and taken my miserable self directly to bed, where I wouldn’t be able to sleep due to hunger and anger together.”
“Wow! That… That was… Well. Thank you.” She said.
We parted at the entry gates, I was walking towards the way to stairs, and she was walking towards the elevator.
“Sure you don’t wanna take the lift?” she said, teasing me to take the elevator with her, winking “Lifts are good, aren’t they?”
“Yes, they are great. But there are some walks which are better than that.” I replied teasing her back. “Not all walks are bad.”
“Sure. Would you walk me back home tonight, after we have had our dinner together?” she said and smiled. I need not say anything, we both knew my answer. I walked up the stairs and she went on with the elevator.
Well, I walked up the stairs, but not in the similar fashion. The paragraph above which I said would have ruined my day had happened in real. There was no lift, no girl, no talking and no nothing.
In real, I walked all the way to my destination, without any lift or any help from anyone. I was filled with sweat, exhaustion and irritation when I reached the place.
But an out of control mind made up this story to divert my attention from the reality…
While I travel seldom, of the times I travel, mostly I travel alone. Solo travel diaries are my weird experiments and experiences from incidents during my solo travel.
“Don’t talk to strangers. Stranger is danger.” something that we are taught since childhood.
But still, it happens, often, that you meet someone on your journey, you talk with them, and they leave a lasting impression on your mind, sometimes on your wallet.
I was standing near a charging booth, refilling the juice in my phone, which would help me stay alive that 9 hours solo journey.
While we don’t have anything to do when we can’t use our phones now-a-days, I usually have a lot of fun when my phone’s not in my hand.
I was whistling the tunes of some of my favorite songs, sometimes singing them along. I was observing the people around me and started noting down the types of people that one can find on a common station (probably future post 😛).
While doing all this, I had my one hand fixed on my mobile phone while the other on my bag. I just couldn’t let go of the fear of someone stealing things from me from that crowded place.
Suddenly, a man in his forties came from behind me and started talking to me.
“Hey. You’re a local resident of this place?” The man said.
Rather hesitantly, I replied “Yes.”
“Actually, I was here to meet my friend. He’s at the platform 10. (We were at platform 1). But the problem is I forgot my wallet at home and I need to buy the platform ticket. Can you please give me some money?” The guy continued, in English. Yes.
He was dressed decent and was speaking to me in a sophisticate manner and in English, in a state where very few do that. So, his first impression on anyone would be that he’s a genuine case. And he was asking for a nominal amount, so one would just give him money, with intentions to help.
“Actually, I don’t have change for that amount. Sorry.” I said the truth, but even if I would have had change with me, I would have lied to say the same thing.
“How much do you have? These shops can give you change.” He said pointing at the nearby shops.
I said bluntly “Why don’t you go and ask them directly? They would probably give you some money.”
This would have offended a genuine man. But he went on to talk to the shopkeeper.
While he walked to the counter, I watched him from the corner of my eyes. He walked to the counter, looked at me, and then was standing there for a while. There was confusion on his face. And it looked very genuine to me.
“He would give change if you buy something from him.” He said to me when he came back.
“I already bought what I need for the journey. And I gave him all the change that I had against those stuff.” I shrugged.
There was silence, a weird silence for few moments, after which he was about to speak something. But I interrupted him – “Why don’t you ask them? They might be having change and they might help you.” I was pointing towards the station officers.
He looked towards them. His face showed hesitation and he left, slowly looking around him, as if finding someone.
Then he boarded the train standing on Platform 1 itself. While moving towards the train, he briefly glanced back towards me.
I was watching him, indirectly.
He was obviously not a genuine case. He didn’t need any platform ticket. The train that he boarded left soon thereafter, and I never saw him come out of that coach. He might have needed money for some other reason, but he lied about the whole friend thing.
And I didn’t fall for it, being a cold hearted person. Had he told me the truth, I might have helped. Probably, still not. It’s hard trusting people nowadays.
While we may make friends out of those strangers while travelling, we have to be vigilant too. Not everyone’s the same.