Monday, 5 June 2017

When Dame Shopalot takes inventory

Hiya folks!

So what are we raving about today?
Oh, just this overwhelming consumerism. **Snort, snort** Says the self-confessed shopaholic!

Well it's like this, I got down to the unenviable task of cleaning the supplies cupboard this weekend (now you feel the pain?) and was absolutely baffled by the quantity of goods stashed in. Rather shamefacedly, I observed duplicate and triplicates of pasta packets, noodles, instant desserts, tons of biscuits and what-nots! What was I thinking?!

Hey I am not alone here! This is what happens when I go to the super market for grocery shopping.


You go to buy a single bar of soap, there are no singles on the shelf! Only 3 or more! You want 100ml olive oil, you get a 1+1 litre and do what? Get a full body tel-malish (oil massage) of course. Talcum powder? Buy one, get one free - 500 gms each, go dunk yourself in it! Washing soap? Buy 2kgs and get 1 ltr cleaning liquid free. Wash all your laundry and your neighbor's too! You want a 250 gms of frozen peas? It's your lucky day - Offer is Buy 1kg, Get 1kg free....Peas all the way, yayy! Fancy some cold-drink/juice? You might as well throw a party, with the gallons you've landed! 

Super-markets stock and display only the bigger versions of everything.
Boy oh boy! Can I get just what I want and no more?
Of course not! Take it or leave it, that's the way it works. 
But wait a sec! No one is complaining about this. Am I noticing it just now or are the shopping trolleys getting just bigger and bigger?

All around I see gleeful mommies loading humongous trolleys with provisions and supplies enough to cater to a mini-army for the next 6 months, with their kids surreptitiously adding contraband junk-food to the loot. But of course she's just on her bi-monthly visit to replenish stores, keeping an eye out for the contents of the neighboring trolley, you never know what you might have missed! 

At the billing counter, the cashier is tirelessly scanning and billing the endless stream of purchase. Billing queues of bored husbands trying to pass their time browsing on their smartphones while keeping a steady watch on the slow-moving line. And just as the man is revoking the jaw that had dropped on seeing the bill and returning his credit card to his wallet, the wife reaches him with kid in tow, 'Mil gaya! I found the Spicy Chilly Sauce!' she declares jubilantly. But woe betide one who's had his turn and is now trespassing on the rules of a queue. 

'Thou shalt have to go back to end of queue even if thou hast only one item.'

So the man goes back to the end of the line, rather like the video-game character, who goes back to square one and starts his journey all over again. Meanwhile, the Mrs has no qualms and gainfully employs her time browsing aisles missed on her previous sojourn. 
You gotta hand it to the geniuses who framed the BOGO - Buy One, Get One Free offers! What can be better for the Indian shopper ingrained with the bargain-hunting genes? Oh there are the Buy 2, Get 1 free, Buy 3, Get 7 free offers too but nothing draws the hardcore shopper more than the Flat 50% off or of course the BOGO offer!
Like ants drawn to sugar, we flock, loot and grab such offers. 

While I am on this rant, let me vent on another aspect of rabid consumerism - Packaging. How eco-friendly are cling-wraps and use and throw packaging for products like deos/shampoos/icecreams etc.? 

Here I am, trying to do my bit to save the environment by refusing to print railway/flight tickets, tiny scraps of bus tickets, ATM withdrawal receipts, bank statements etc. while big brands are selling laundry detergents packed first in high grade polythene bags, in turn packaged in thick cardboard cartons along with over-generous plastic scoops! Obviously I am paying for these unwanted extras too! Didn't anyone tell them about refill packs or saving trees?

My cupboards are inundated by extra helpings of soaps, deosprays, gigantic containers of shampoo and talcum powder, cartons of laundry detergents, oils, snacks and well, generally everything. Folks at home groan with boredom - Will we ever expend that everlasting jar of jam/pickles? Why can't I try that new shampoo brand? Oh, because I have 2 huge bottles of this one to see through. 'Do I have to gulp oats every single morning?' complains the youngster. He has no choice until that 2 kg barrel is emptied. The maid pitches in with her, 'Madam, the floor cleaner you bought, is just colored water. Don't blame me if your floor isn't getting cleaned!' What can I say? Hmm, BOGO made me do it!

Enough of this! I am going back to my neighborhood kirana-dukaan (grocery store) to get precisely what I want and just as much as I want. Just one bar of soap, 50 ml of hair-oil, 100 gms of talcum powder, one tube of toothpaste, 100 gms of lentil, 50 gms of mustard seeds, 25 gms of cashew nuts (Yes! You can actually buy that little)....you get the drift? Besides grocery, this handy store stocks eggs, bread and all fresh vegetables (not clingfilm-wrapped), takes orders over the phone, offers home delivery in less than 30 minutes. He gets whole wheat cleaned, sifted and ground to flour of the right grade - not too fine, while remembering to blend in soya and millet - just the way I ordered it. If he doesn't have a particular item I read off the list I've made, he ensures he gets it from the neighboring store. For instance, if I need freshly ground filter coffee, he'll get it for me from the neighboring 'Anna's store. And guess what? He doesn't mind if I don't pay right away (I am a credit worthy customer, cool ain't it?), accepts payment through mobile wallet and throws in a free bunch of cilantro with every delivery! You can't get more personalized service, can you? 

So as we progress on the fast-paced, efficient escalator to supermarket stores and online grocery shopping, I am stepping off that course and walking back to the simple grocery store that I left behind. Sadly I might be a bit late, many small retailers are shutting shop, courtesy - Competition from large wholesale supermarkets and online websites. 
Hang in there, dear 'Chowdhary General Stores' I am coming back to you.

Cheers,
Kala



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