Ah, shopping! A magic far beyond all we do here! Most of my past moments that keeping popping up as memories have a lot to do with walks down any of the markets, looking wistfully at the windows full of dreams. From Jhansi to Dehradun, from Delhi to London, from Seoul to Sydney… shops and shopping has managed to capture most of the free space in my memory.

‘Now even the online bazaars are over-flowing with temptations,’ I said, getting up to go away from the PC screen for a glass of water.

My wife must have smiled… no, I really am not sure but the tell-tale shuffle told me she had immediately left her rocking chair and hijacked the PC. ‘No more blogging for some time now,’ she announced in a rather loud happy voice.

I returned with my glass of cold water only to find Specky fluttering around inside the online playground where page upon page was opened. ‘My world of exploration,’ she hummed joyously, ‘these pages hold all the secrets that we keep searching for all over.’

‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘the pages also hold the most exciting moments, the greatest adrenalin rush moments we’ve had and we’ve given.’ There was a moment of silence when Specky gathered all her thoughts and then laughed out loud, saying, ‘Yes, the time when we ordered two books and the package received had only one. There was such a massive confusion and it was so difficult for us to explain that for one book costing barely a hundred and fifty rupees we wouldn’t go on and spend double that amount on running up our phone bills.’

‘But those guys did understand in the end and realised their error,’ I said.

Well, we’ve certainly had our share of adventures and misadventures in the world of online transactions. One thing that we know for sure is that whenever we happen to go on our online jaunts we go with the Erma Bombeck mindset. Wasn’t she the one who famously explained:

“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. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Yes, we are quite familiar with all sorts of online stores selling all sorts of wares. I remember the time when we were on the verge of buying the latest smartphone from a brick-and-mortar store when Specky had one of her well-known intuitive inspirations. She said, ‘Let’s just rush home and see what our online friends have to offer.’

We did rush back home… it was one of those market visits that surprised us because when we drove out of the underground parking lot, the sun was still up! Well, we reached home, logged on four sites at the same time and discovered that our online gambit paid off handsomely. There was a massive discount and in addition to that we got a few hundred rupee worth of add-ons too. Such incidents haven’t been too frequent, but they do happen and when they do, we pounce upon them. but we have this habit coming back to our favourite sites again and again and again. As Sophie Kinsella has said in ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’ – the movie: 

“When I shop, the world gets better, and the world is better, but then it’s not, and I need to do it again.”

The magic of online shopping

The magic of online shopping

Only a few days back as I sat thinking hard on what we could order on the net, Specky asked me, ‘There are a lot of sites giving great bargains from offline stores.’

‘Ah! Are you suggesting we buy a deal coupon for a lovely dinner for tonight?’ I asked. Such brilliant ideas need to be catapulted into action immediately.

Specky smiled and said, ‘No, we’re not eating out tonight. We need to go for a party. But yes, I was actually talking about such sites only. Didn’t know much about them.’

A short browse told us that sites like snapdeal did have a range of surprises for us. They went on to offer great deals for not only the foodies but also for salons, movies, plays, books, flowers, gadgets, spas… and they did seem to have some unbeatable offer for almost everything. Frankly, we hadn’t been to these sites before and so those couple of hours before we got up to move to the party were spent gathering a lot of valuable information.

That night when we came back from the party we were not very keen on sleeping and so sat down to do some joint online shopping research, we even found great Kohl’s coupons after doing a few clicks. We weren’t really serious about making any purchase that evening, so I opened one of the online store sites and just typed in ‘happy’.

Specky was following my moves carefully and when she saw the result, she was excited and said, ‘Oh my gosh! I thought only happy feet, the movie will come up. but here are so many toys, books, movies, albums, and even gadget accessories that have this name tagged to them!’

‘See,’ I said, ‘online shopping even when you’re not shopping can be such a great incursion into the world of abstract philosophy.’ Specky looked at me bewildered, but said nothing. I can be like that sometimes and she knows that very well.

The next word I typed in was ‘politics’… and found that even this strangely unpoetic word managed to be used as a tag for over sixty-eight MP3 downloads there, a couple of movies, a lot of books, and evn a toy called ‘All Things Equal Loaded Questions – Political Party’ costing well over seventeen hundred rupees!

‘No wonder,’ said Specky, ‘politics is indeed an expensive game. Write love this time.’

So love it was. And besides the usual toys, books, movies, and music albums, we noticed that there were matches for “love” found in Books (59108), Belts, Bags & Luggage (11), Beauty & Health Care (67), Posters (66), Movies (306), Computer Accessories (6), Mobile Accessories (19), Baby Care (5) and Games (3).

‘Online shopping at stores like Shoppok can be real fun with you,’ said my wife giving me one of her special looks when she is pleased to the core.

‘Well,’ I replied, ‘let us get down to buying something now.’

‘You know we never do impulse buying,’ said Specky, ‘not even when we are too happy to notice our impulses! Search and research is our motto… remember?’

Well, having spent quite a few months in the Indian Military Academy more than thirty years back, I had become rather fond of such taglines. No, not the ‘Victory and Valour’ sort… but like the ‘Search and Research’ tagline for our online shopping sprees! And I also have a tagline for those moments when we get down to actually making a purchase. We call that moment a ‘Good Lord we’ve done it again!’ moment.

By the way, even that day, we did end up ordering Dev Anand’s autobiography… and I’m still reading it. You’ll soon be reading it’s review.

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Arvind Passey
12 September 2012