Monday, December 26, 2005

Stayin' Alive

This post is no ode to the Bee Gees. Neigh, it is in fact a tribute to one woman’s bravery and courage in the face of a man-made disaster so sinister my hand trembles as I type its name. The Boxing Day Sale.

The 26th of December began like any other day. The sky was a delicate shade of oyster and a steady drizzle fell - well steadily. There was no ominous sign - no black cat no one eyed kangaroo that told of what was to come. She watched the breakfast news and caught stray reports - £ 5 billion would be spent over the next 5 days, 250,000 people expected at Bluewater Mall. She looked at her sherpa (her husband) “ We should take part in this pagan festival that celebrates the indiscrete spending of money”. The sherpa looked doubtful but she brushed aside his worries with a threat to cut off his free food supply.

The streets near their home were deserted. The trains sparsely populated with other adventurers – their faces set in steely determination. At each station though their numbers grew, and by the time the iron worm carrying them stopped at Oxford Circus there was hardly room to breath. The sherpa’s eyes begged her – lets turn back. No! We’ve come too far she silently told him by stamping on his foot.

Outside it was like the earth had vomited human. Everywhere she looked people were being pushed forward whether they liked it or not. She tied herself to the sherpa and they set off – careful not to step on the toes of the already irate mass of humanity.

After a couple of failed attempts at shopping (The Gap, River Island) she drew herself up to her full height (5ft2) and strode in to Zara. It was bedlam. Women were willing to kill, maim and jab in the chest to get that silk blouse at 50% off. After an hour of staving off such physical attacks she emerged triumphant with a shopping bag filled with treasures in silk and 35% cashmere. She had been separated from the sherpa though. She found him crouching in fear near the entrance.

Next on the list was Selfridges. Imagine if you will well coiffed Chelsea women carrying Prada bags and wearing row upon row of Mikimoto. The vision of grace and good breeding. Until they see you admiring a Mulberry bag they want. Then it’s good bye good breeding and hello take your hands off that you bitch it’s mine. The shoppers in the luxury bags department of Selfridges are about as well mannered as a bunch of stampeding elephants. Serpentine cues wound around the ground floor – just to gain entrance in to the hallowed spaces allocated to the brands. Their founders no longer alive to see the hysteria their creations arouse.

It was the same story everywhere. Debenhams. House of Frazer. Nike Town. And the hundreds of other stores that she didn’t venture in to. The roads seemed to get more and more crowded with every passing hour. But she refused to let a pesky few hundred thousand people scare her off. The sherpa wasn’t as sure. But she bought his support with a wool and cashmere coat. Sucker.

Feet aching, hair resembling a bird’s nest and weighed down by the shopping equivalent of a small nation’s GDP she and her faithful sherpa dragged themselves back home. They had appeased the pagan consumer gods and -

‘OOH! Marks and Spencer start their sale tomorrow! Leave your snow boots on sherpa!”

Tips to make your sale shopping a success

1.Know what you want. Do not think you can window shop during Boxing Day and January Sales. You will find yourself being scraped off the sidewalk by a loved one if you try.

2.Have a plan. Decide where you are going and do not get sidetracked. Even if the sparkly sweater calls to you from The Gap as you stride purposefully towards your patent leather heels at Faith – Ignore it!

3.Forget your manners. Don’t be polite and say ‘Lady, please take your hands off the trousers I’m holding’. Just snarl instead. Watch a few Vampire flicks for tips.

4.Feel no guilt. Very important. You’re helping the economy. Or so you tell yourself.

5.Wear comfortable shoes.

6.Don’t forget your sherpa.

29 comments:

Mali&Madhu said...

I really wonder if the sherpa was not a (to coin a new term) Jungian slip since a lilting South Indian accent saying "sherpa" sounds a lot like "Sure, 'pa" to me. I'm willing to go out on a limb here but ... Im pretty sure that moulding the patidev into a yes man definitely makes shopping a whole new experience...

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

M&m- Hey hey hey hey hey! You kinda have a point :D

alpha said...

haha! Bravo, bravo! Inspired and Jealous! Sherpa indeed. Mine (well, can't even call him sherpa as he refuses to be the Sherpa)...gives me sleeping pills the day before and stops internet and newpapers for a week. If the economy is in the decline, you know whom to blame.

TomCruiseChellum said...

Sherpas and appas are all like that only. TCC remembers a particularly footaching visit through the state emporia in Baba Karak Singh Marg in our Rajdhani with his daughter many years ago (and it was not sale time)Orissa Emporium is still holding a saree for her to collect. And I remember a memsab helping her select a saree and telling her "Never count on men for these things like this

Swathi said...

India seems to have a Boxing Day Sale equivalent everywhere...what with itz 1 billion ppl throning the shopping malls or exhibitions at any point of time during the weekend...

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Sale?!

"Be afraid. Be very afraid."

J.A.P.

Siri said...

Loling here. Had a bit of my "fearful" shopping experience at Chennai's (you wonder!) own Spencer Plaza on 25th. And the phrase "earth vomiting humans"....amazingly accurate...
Very nice blog you have here troasf....

krishna rautela said...

good piece!!

Aparna Menon said...

CLap CLap cLap...That was wonderful..

Though boxing day sale don’t seem to be of much Hype in US, the Thanks giving sale was an exact mirror image of what you said. Determined Desi IT geeks who flocked at Best buy and circuit city even as early as 4 am, couldn’t not lay their hands on those free lap top coupons..!!

Either you have to be a super early bird…or an ultra super late bird form the previous day 

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

thank you! thank you! i think the sherpa and i deserve a bravery medal of some sorts. perhaps from george jensen?:)

Ash said...

hehe, sherpa , hehe !

I wish the sherpa had a blog too ! :D

Olinda said...

Ah, Shoefi, this brings back such memories.

A beutiful pale peach Jaeger swing coat from Harrods. On that winter sales trip, me and the mother got separated, and not having mobiles at that time, I planted myself at the location where I understood we had said we'd meet (I think it was on a landing by the stairs), and I got chatting to the fella next to me, in between scribbling in a notepad. When the bloke's wife showed up he said "This young girl's been waiting here so long she started writing a book!"

Imagine my surprise when I called the hotel to leave a message for my mother, reasoning that she would call to do the same sooner or later, when after two rings, she actually answered the phone, having given up all hope of finding me!

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