Are you coming?’ she asked for the fourth time, this time in a threatening tone. I had run out of excuses, so I just ducked under the table and pretended to look for a pen I hadn’t dropped. Peeping under the table, my friend went on, this time with her eyes twice as wide, and tone turning almost orgasmic. ‘You don’t know what you are missing. It is 60% today, they’ve never gone this up so far,’ she said, with the incredulity in voice that she normally reserves for landmark events in world history. I still shook my head.
I just can’t bring myself to doing this one thing, no matter how much I see people discuss the great bargains. I hate shopping during sales. There, I’ve said it. I’m sure there’s a name for this disorder somewhere in the useless scientific terms dictionary. This time of the year when you can make friends with any strange woman in the city by just starting the topic of how much discount is on in which big store, I’ve told my driver to not even turn into the lanes that lead to a shopping mall or market. The whole world and its cousin is anyway stuck on that lane, trying to first get parking, and then doing all they can — push, shove, elbow — to buy a discounted thing that may not be their size.
I’ve always felt this way about the sales, ever since I was four and my mother took me to the sale at Snowhite, a popular readymade garments showroom at that time. There were aunties everywhere, some uncles in tow too. Everyone had a mini mountain of clothes in their hands to choose from, which they wanted to securely keep, lest anyone else takes it. Mom liked a red sweater buried in a huge pile on the counter and tried to pull it out from its sleeve. It wouldn’t move. She pulled harder… and harder, till a salesman pointed out that she was in a tug of war with another woman who was pulling the other sleeve from behind the pile. Mom wouldn’t let go and neither did the fighter aunty. Feeling as protective as a four-year-old ‘responsible’ child can, I went to the other side and almost tickled that aunty into loosening her grip.
A war of words followed, and my mother emerged victorious. I looked around and there were such battles going on all over the showroom. I would’ve introspected, a la King Ashoka in the Kalinga war, on the worth of all this, but I was four, remember? And then, when mom wanted me to try the 21 sweaters she had short listed, we were told that tryroom facility is not available during the sale. That afternoon of putting on and taking off pullovers in the corner of the showroom, ensured that ‘shopping in sales’ gets firmly added to the ‘Things-you’ll-never-catch-me-doing’ list of my life.
Shopping is meant to be a pleasant experience. Some even call it therapeutic. Somehow I fail to see the therapy in hoards of people queuing up to first get into the stores that have an ocean of people already inside, then having to hunt for something worthwhile in the unsightly piles of stuff, since everything’s off the racks. And then to make payment, again get into queues that are several lifetimes long. Therapeutic? My foot.
Here are some calmness tips for fellow sales-haters, if there are any...
— Come out of the ‘I won’t buy it till I touch it’ mindset and try online shopping. With good brands offering the same discounts on their websites, it’s quite a good deal to go digital.
— From next season, go to the showrooms just before the sale is about to begin, try out and shortlist the clothes you are sure you like (and fit into). Make a note of their price and where they are kept in the store. When the sales start, go straight for them, rather than indulge in mindless hunting.
— Avoid long queues by looking for a payment counter which is not in the middle of the crowded sections (usually clothes). Go upto the section of décor items, and make all your payment there. Sometimes flashing your best smile at the shopping attendant and asking him/her to help with quick payment also helps, but don’t tell anyone I said so.
Sonal Kalra wants to start a movement, ‘I hate sales’, and is looking for sponsors. Would any retail chain volunteer? Okay, sorry, that was silly. Send your calmness tricks at