The envelope looked harmless. It was addressed to Dr. Raghunandan. I brought it in, along with other mail and placed it on the table. My wife opened it.
“SALE !! Garden Sarees and dress materials at 40%-60% discount. Every day 10am to 7 pm. No lunch break. 4th Nov to 24th Nov at Keni’s hotel, 18th June Road, Panaji Goa. Sundays open. Do not miss this golden opportunity!!”
I cursed myself for writing my name and address in the book that was kept next to the cash counter during their last year’s sale. I was under the impression that it was for some lucky draw. But the realization was too late and I could not do anything but drive my wife to the sale.
The hall was full of excited ladies moving along the rows and rows of tempting sarees. They were enjoying themselves, picking up their choices, draping the folded material on their shoulders and seeking opinions of friends, mothers and daughters. There were a few very fortunate ones with enthusiastic and eager husbands (obviously newly married, first timers) helping them in choosing the right dress and a few unfortunate ones trying to force an opinion from bored husbands who whiled away the time looking at other ladies.
We began with the first row. Me and my wife. I am an important adjunct in the process of my wife’s saree selection. Lot of value is attached to my views and opinions and my wife does not buy without my concurrence. She picked up one.
“How is this colour?”
“Like the design?”
“What about the border?”
“And the pallu?”
“Can’t be better.”
“If you are under the impression that you can fool me into buying this one and be done with today’s shopping, you are mistaken.”
“I know. Just tried my luck.”
“So, now tell me what you really think of this.”
“Thanks for confirming. I had liked this a lot and so, was sure of your opinion.”
She moved along the row slowly, taking out and examining every piece minutely and I followed. Half an hour passed. We had covered half a row.
“Why don’t you take an active part and select some good ones instead of dumbly following me?”
I took an active part and selected one.
“I can rely up on you to pick up the worst amongst the thousands that are here”I put it back and chose another one.
“Look at the colour combination. Will anyone in their senses wear it?”
I proffered up the third.
“This border is exactly like the one I have purchased for my birthday. You never remember any of my sarees.”
I told her not to bother about my opinion and buy whatever she likes.
“Impossible. I can’t buy the saree if you don’t like it.”
I suggested that she continue with her selection while I went out for a breath of fresh air. I asked her to short list three and call me for final selection. I said that it would make things easier for both. This was agreed up on and I went out.
I spent the next one and a half hours amusing myself walking up and down the street looking at people out for an evening.
Crowds in front of the eateries gorging on all sorts of sweets and fried stuff, just looking at which, my cholesterol shoots up.
Foreigners being heckled by hawkers and swindled by shop keepers.
Traffic police locking the wheels of wrongly parked vehicles and the faces of the owners on seeing the wheels locked.
Domestic tourists in their “I love Goa “ T shirts.
So on and so forth.
I was in the middle of the fifth round when I received my wife’s call.
She had selected three as I had suggested. One was cream with orange coloured flower patterns. The second was greenish with geometrical patterns in grey and red, and the third was light yellow and black.
I was supposed to pick one and that was final.
I picked the green one with geometrical patterns.
“Don’t you like the cream with orange flowers? “
“I will. If you promise to buy it this moment and leave this place”
“Then I will buy this cream one and since your first choice was green, I will buy that too!”
Next morning she took them out into the balcony to appreciate their beauty in natural light.
“This green looks different in natural light"
"If you don’t like it. exchange it for the yellow one”
She returned the green and brought yellow.
Her friends came over to look at the sarees. One of them said that both the sarees were indeed very nice but she had heard that there were plenty of new colours in the sale.
“Left to myself, my choice might have been different. These were my husband’s selection!”
The Hills are Alive
6 days ago