The festive season sees a Kafkaesque metamorphosis in me. No, it is not that religious fervour overtakes me, but that I become a pathologically obsessed trailer of sales. While on our Sunday peregrinations, on spotting a shop with a ‘Sale’ sign, I will spring from the car and sprint towards it even as the spouse tries to distract me by discussing the displacement problem in Darfur. I usually return flushed with triumph clutching several items for which no one has any use.
Now the art of conducting oneself at a sale is no mean one. You will spot the item you want at the same time as the person next to you. You will swoop upon it eagle-like and secure it under one arm. While the co-shopper glares at you, you use the free hand to clutch at some other object you may or may not end up buying. Thus having secured a cornucopia of items, over which your entire being is now draped, you select the ones you want. The minute you discard one, be sure that another equally crazed person will snap it up.
This obsession for a bargain extends to our weekly shopping. Fearing my propensity to buy things that offer something free with it, the spouse has taken to making a lengthy list in bold black letters. But am I deterred by all this? Not on your credit card. Many a time, I have returned with a 10 kg bag of basmati rice that offered a set of Pearlpet jars with it. “Who on earth will eat all this rice?” the household help will ask feebly. Similarly, I will always buy toothpaste that offers a free toothbrush with it. The spouse remarked that unless we all developed an extra set of teeth, we would never have to buy brushes for the rest of our lives after which we could bequeath them to our heirs.
The buy-one-get-one-free is a slogan that never fails to excite. There are numerous shirts floating around our home searching for occupants that I have snapped up under this scheme. My boys have complained that I have bought several shirts in delicate shades of pink and mauve for them just because I could avail of the double whammy offer. “What kind of wuss wears these colours?” they ask.
What really hurts is when you have bought something and find that the next week there is a free offer with it. I always take this as a personal insult. Similarly, the art of bargaining. You will stroll up to a vendor on Janpath and ask the price of something you don’t intend to buy. On hearing the amount, you will plunge in a verbal duel with him. The two sides lock horns. By now, you are determined to teach the whippersnapper a lesson. You argue with the passion of an Alan Greenspan trimming the Federal reserve. At last the hapless vendor throws in the towel and off and away you go with the item you never wanted in the first place but exulting in having made your opponent bite the dust. This penchant for bargain basement items are a global phenomenon. I assure you that there are millions before whom I would sale, sorry pale, in comparison.