I usually hate shopping in malls. There is something very draining about the whole process. Since I only go on weekends, I have this perception of malls being extremely crowded. Secondly, since I am usually shopping for clothes and there aren’t many options for people of my size and shape, I end up feeling very depressed about my body and low on self-esteem. Thirdly, everything is way too expensive and I’m constantly doing this ‘bank-balance’ check in my head as we move from shop to shop, feeling very poor. And fourthly, the kids keep repeating, “I want this, I want that” like a mantra, and I get bone-weary of saying “No” a hundred times a minute. Is it any wonder I then gorge on ice cream and add guilt to the whole enervating episode?
But yesterday, I had a completely different experience of a mall. I’d gone to Select Citywalk Saket for Rashmi Anand’s book launch, and after that, I thought I’d hang around and hunt for interesting gifts for my younger one’s 13th birthday, which is tomorrow. She has her final exams going on, so a party was out of the question. Instead, she’d asked for several ‘little’ items. Nothing expensive, she said. Just kiddy stuff like a stuffed-toy pencil pouch, glow-in-the dark stickers, and children’s books.
Since it was a weekday, the mall wasn’t very crowded. Since I wasn’t shopping for clothes or anything expensive, gone was the tension, self-doubt and low self-worth. Since I was shopping for my daughter, there was an abundance of love in my heart. Since it was meant to be a surprise, there was a sense of joy and mischief and excitement as well. I found about 10 little and big, thoughtful and playful gifts for her and a couple for my other daughter (consolation gifts!) without digging too much of a hole in my pocket. I just can’t wait to wake her up tomorrow morning with all those packets and see her happiness at opening them.
It’s so much more fun shopping for someone you love – more than shopping for yourself. Though the mall experience is never going to become easier, I can perhaps make it less taxing on myself if I start shopping for a different set of ‘stuff’ in future: delight, joy, a sense of sharing and expressing your love, pleasure in someone else’s pleasure.
Never mind that I’ll need clothes too eventually. Sigh.