Shopping in India

I can handle the traffic, the filth by the side of the road and the nosey neighbours/cousins..
but I really can’t handle shopping here.

All I wanted was to buy a saree for someone and I thought I would go to the biggest shop here.(So I can avoid the sales people)

As you enter the shop, you are met with a line of beauties, their only job is to greet you and ask what you are looking for..then they will call another decked up beauty who will guide you to the lift, take you up to the level where sarees are kept and hand you over to the next decked up beauty, who in turn will ask you again what you are looking for and pass you to another sales person.
Once you buy what you need, then you have to wait another 30 minutes before you can pay because the man manning the counter was talking to his friend. ,(You are still escorted by another beauty to the payment center and handed over to the next beauty)Then the man at the counter realizes that you are using an overseas credit card and he wants to write the card details on the slip(Why? I have no idea!)
Then you have to wait another 20 mints because the man misplaced the counter slip you have signed and has to rummage through all the slips in front of him till he found the right one.
Then you have to go to another counter to collect your shopping.Fortunately as soon as the payment is done, the beauties disappear and you are free to find your way out of the shop.

What I am used to is, go to the shop, read the floor information on the wall that lets you know which level has what I am looking for, take the lift/escalator to that level, look for what I need, pick it up, go to the check out (most often self check out) pay for the stuff and walk out.
I like to be in control. I don’t need to tell 100 people what I am looking for, I don’t want to feel obligated because the sales person has to open all the sarees and then will have to fold it back, I don’t want to answer if I am looking for anything else and I certainly don’t need to be escorted to the lift.

I was told that what I experienced was the ultimate customer service!!!

I am still trying to grapple with the ideology that forces people to do such mindless work in the name of ultimate customer satisfaction.


Finding my Shangri-La

I have been forever searching for my Shangri-La, but there was something missing in each of the place I thought was my corner in this world. In my Shangri-La everything was supposed to be perfect and in harmony. The sensible one in me knew there never can be place where everything is perfect! But that didn’t meant that I was going to stop searching. I had to find it. I felt in my heart that if I searched long enough, hard enough I will find my corner, where I can be at peace with myself, where I can be just me.

I never understood, if it was the actual journey, or the final goal of ultimately finding my Shangri-la or was itsomething else that fuelled my search.

Like Odesseus I have been journeying slaying my own personal demons and one eyed monsters enroute.. I was the nobody..

“Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years,
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca will offer you riches.
Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
she has nothing more to give you.

and if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become,with so much experience,
You must already have understood What Ithaca means”
constantine cavafy

I woke up this morning feeling famished.
I went downstairs and was greeted by two people who opened their heart and home to me and gave me more parental love in the last 3 weeks than I ever got in my 39 years.

Amma, she didn’t criticize me for the way I tied the saree..She was delighted to see me wear a saree, She even found safety pins for me..
She made idli and coconut chutney for me because I had mentioned that it is my favourite breakfast. She saved Sambar for me, just in case i wanted to eat something in the middle of the night!

Appa, He has a PhD in English lit and asked me to help him find a word he was searching for..even though he knew I studied in Malayalam medium..!! He didn’t assume that I wouldn’t know..
He also explained to me me things I didn’t see in the Coleridge’s Rime of the ancient Mariner..

From nobody to somebody..

I came here with a list of things to do..
Never thinking that I will finally find my Shangri-La..

Ee uthradam nalil, ningal ellarkkum entey Onam ashamsakal

Time of my life

This trip to India was something I have been wanting to do for years..
I even had a list of things I was going to do..
I am here for another 10 more days.
So far I have done 10% of what I had planned to do. I should be disappointed. But I am not.
It feels like I finally managed to to put my life on pause..It was like a run away train until now.. I am so much at peace…

I have been reading..It is such a delight to go to the book shop and pay 250 Rs for the latest Paulo Coelho’s book. I can afford to buy all of Coelho’s books and still won’t have to rob the bank!

I even managed to read a malayalam novel, which is an achievement because I haven’t read a malayalam novel since 1986. I read Akamiyam by John E Abraham..(absolutely a brilliant book)

Now the most oddest thing I missed when I came to India is…
Bread !!!
Especially raisin toast.( I always hated bread and only ate it when I was really lazy to cook something, which happens very rarely.. Right now, I would love to have a nice cup of coffee and a raisin toast at Mackers!!)

Craziest thing I did in India..I learned to smoke!!
Will I be a smoker? time will tell..
( Eating my own words about why one shouldn’t smoke has been a pretty bitter experience though!)

oru vattam

This was a long pending trip that I promised myself i would do one day..and the one day was always like the Ganapathy’s wedding!!!

Finally I am doing what I promised myself..

In Kerala!!!!!!

Going through all the things I wanted to see once again..

25 years later..

I went back to my old school.

What I remembered was the long pathway lined with age old cassurina trees on either side..huge play ground..old boarding school building with white washed walls and windows painted brown..

What I saw was concrete jungles and car parks..gone were the cassurina trees..gone were the play grounds..

Now I am not really sure if I did the right thing to come back..Perhaps I should have just lived with the old memories..