Ever since I saw, the advertisement that read ‘shop like a man’ my mind was not at rest. At first, the wordings tickled my funny bones.

What is it to shop like a man? If the word ‘man’ is replaced with its female counterpart, then it really makes sense. For in my house women did most of the shopping. When I was very young, I found myself assisting my mother by carrying for her bag loads of items. Then when I got married, my wife took up the responsibility. My father very rarely did the shopping and during my regime as head of the family, I strictly adhered to the policy of my father – “Man for making money and women for spending them.” In my neighbourhood too men sacrificed the pleasure of shopping to women. And so, the slogan ‘shop like a man’ began to play poser to me.

On second thoughts, I found a venue opening up before my mind’s eye. How can one find the truth of the matter, unless one plunges headlong into it? Hence, I decided to go for shopping to find out for myself how to shop like a man. Deepavali came as a good excuse for doing the shopping.

On a Saturday morning  I wore a costly white dhoti and a minister white shirt half-sleeves, slipped my legs into a pair of leather chappals, put on my Reebok dark glasses and said, “see you, dear” to my wife.

“Hmm..Hmm…m…Inaugurating a literary association? Or delivering a talk in a book release function?” my wife asked.

“For shopping,” I said and started my car. She looked at me as if I were from another world for she could not believe her ears. Her only suspicion was why her husband should put on the best meant for attending functions when he wanted to go for shopping. She did not know that I wanted to shop like a man. And this is the only sort of dress that modern women have spared to men.

Driving a car in the town is a real adventure. “If you successfully drive in Pondicherry, you can drive anywhere in the world”, people say. I was lucky enough to find a place to park my car in Nehru Street, just opposite to a mall in which I make use of the ATM services. A push of the button and I was rich. The moment I found my shirt pocket bulging with currency notes, all of Rs. 1000 denomination, my gait had completely changed. I moved out of the ATM centre, puffing out my chest. May be, this is yet another aspect of ‘Shopping like a man’.

My next questions were what am I to shop and what shop to choose. Festivals remind us of new clothes. I decided to buy clothes for the entire family, comprising five grownups and two kids. That means I should shop in three places—Men’s Wear, Women’s Apparel and kids dress. It is not that I do not know that all these items are available in just one shop especially in Pondicherry. However, I felt that no man, worthy the name, would ever enter a small shop and so I searched for the biggest. In Nehru Street, almost every shop selling clothes is as big as a palace and so I chose one to do the shopping. I found a milling crowd inside and so stepped back. I tried with a second, third and fourth, and found that every shop was crowded.

I had no other option but to elbow my way in. That too befits a man, I said to myself, as I somehow managed to gain entry into the kids wear section. I know, as a man, the children have to be satisfied first. Further, they will be happy with whatever dress material we choose.

Wow! What a wide variety! How to choose from an ocean, as the sellers call their shops? I never had experienced such a tough time in my life. Yet with great difficulty, I managed to select the best for my grand children.

Winged Time flew fast. When the goods were billed, I was so tired and exhausted. I felt a pinching in my stomach. I looked at my watch. It showed 2.30 p.m. My God! Have I skipped my lunch? I am accustomed to taking my lunch exactly at 12.30 p.m. on all working days. To navigate my way in the crowded city to reach my home some 7 kms away would take me another hour. Why should not I eat out?

I entered a nearby restaurant that boasted of multi-cuisines. I eagerly entered. I was honoured with a token. My token showed the number 77. “Token number 70 is having his lunch, Sir. You will have to wait for five to seven minutes”, someone said. I agreed.

How many seven minutes passed, I did not know. Someone woke me up and said, “You can go in and have your lunch, Sir.” I realized that hunger has subsided and sleep had hugged me.

When I came out of the restaurant, after eating for the sake of eating, I said to myself— Oh! This shopping is for women. They are really patience incarnate.


About the author: P. Raja
P. Raja
P.Raja (October 07, 1952) a son of this divine soil, Pondicherry, India famed for its spiritual heritage, writes in his chosen language, English, and also in his mother tongue, Tamil. More than 5000 of his works – poems, short stories, interviews, articles, book reviews, plays, skits, features and novellas – have seen the light through newspapers and magazines that number to 350 in both India and elsewhere. He has 30 books for adults and 8 books for children in English and 14 books in Tamil. Apart from contributing special articles to Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literature in English (London), Encyclopedia of Tamil Literature in English, and to several other edited volumes, he has also written scripts for Television (Delhi). He broadcasts his short stories and poems from All India Radio, Pondicherry. He was General Council Member of Central Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi (English Advisory Board - 2008-2012) representing the Pondicherry University. He is Editor of TRANSFIRE, a literary quarterly devoted to translations from various languages into English. His website: www.professorraja.comAuthor can be reached at [email protected]

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