Saturday, October 27, 2018

Why men suffer from Shopo-phobia


Whoever thinks that nothing can beat the agony of a man in a lingerie shop hasn’t seen a man in a grocery shop. With a shopping list in his hands, he is as clueless as Rakhi Sawant in a library. But nothing can shake his confidence. Remember how Kangana was oblivious of what she was buying at a sex toy shop in Queen? Confident but clueless. 

Each time I venture in a grocery shop, I observe men shopping for everything the lady of the house ordered. Don’t judge me. I’m not a sadist, but if you are a writer of any denomination, your discerning eye and an ear for nuance are always an asset. 

So it’s a lazy Sunday and I’m at 'Needs', a supermart teeming with women shopping for Diwali festivities. And there he is – dressed in casual shorts, a lost boy look in his eyes and a massive trolley at his disposal. Despite the bounce in his gait, he looks oddly vulnerable. He peers at the list with such seriousness as if contemplating what to say at the UN Security Council meet. Focus. The moment he spots the listed item, he adds it to the basket with an impenetrable air of an ultimate executioner. ‘One down, nineteen to go’. 

I smile, because no matter what he does, he is bound to get into trouble. The ‘Honey Nut Cheerio’ he selected with a certain smug certainty is not the sugar free cereal his wife wanted. The orange marmalade he picked is not the mixed fruit jam his daughter loves. The black olives he singled out are not the green seedless variety his mother needs. And that’s not Sabut Kali Masoor dude, that’s Dhuli Masoor dal you just pulled out. 

Same hi to hain, what’s the difference you ask? Well, I’d let your wife be the judge of that! 

Given the number of soda bottles and snacks he is picking, looks like there is a Diwali party at home. Half way down the list, confusion gets to our lone shopper. As expected, he flips out the phone and makes a call. “Baby, should I get Tropicana Orange or Minute Maid Pulpy Orange? And Macaroni is pasta right?"

I’m unable to over hear what his wife said, but he decides to take another life line. “Excuse me, where can I get Pasta sauce?” 

“Sir, second from left.” 

Don’t chew me to bits but men can be IIT toppers or MBA’s from top business schools, and yet, following directions is as tough for them as applying mascara. They can straddle the corporate world with amazing ease, hobnob with the world’s who’s who but will not remember where they parked the car in the parking lot. So for unexplained reasons, our guy lands at the wrong counter. This section has an assortment of salad dressings but no pasta sauce. Rather reluctantly, he calls the wife again. “Baby pasta sauce is red but all I see here is mayonnaise?” 

At this point, I’m fairly certain the lady at the other end is pissed. Because the guy is almost apologetic, “Okay chill, I’ll ask someone.” Given that I have enough masaala for my article, I guide him towards the pasta sauce counter. As I contemplate which oil to buy, I notice the guy has pulled out a bottle of ‘Buy One Get One Free’ Olive Oil. While he thinks he’s clinched a deal, it is likely that he picked Extra Virgin Olive Oil used for dressing instead of Pomace Oil used for frying. Once home, his perky sense of optimism is likely to be trampled by his wife’s heavy boots of reason. 

To top it all, worse awaits at the billing counter. Given that Diwali is round the corner, the queue moves slower than the queue at ATMs during demonetization. Finally, when he is almost ready for billing, the lady ahead in the queue nudges her daughter to hold her place while she sneaks away to pick some bread. 
Truth is, the odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one. No wonder men prefer on-line shopping. It is not surprising why men are Shopophobes and women Shopoholics. The saving grace is that in the era of on-line shopping, both can co-exist happily. On the phone that is! 

(The article is not meant to stereotype men.)

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