I had already mentioned sometime back that doing Grocery Shopping is an Ordeal here in the US.
On a usual work day evening, I had to face the ordeal for the millionth time again albeit due to my own fault. I suddenly had a craving to eat Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani and so I wanted to hit the store to get some chicken for next day. I was all dressed up (which is wearing a T-shirt that would beg washing and a Shorts that would wish it was worn inside out) and checked with my wife if I should get 0.5 or 1 pound of Chicken, as I was the only chicken-eat-tarian in the family.
Wife: “0.5 would be too less, you won’t get much for making the 65. 1 pound will be too much, you won’t be able to eat it fully. 0.75 pounds! How about that?”
And so w(if)e decided that 0.75 pounds is the right quantity of chicken I would need, if I should minimize the wastage, never mind that the Grocery store itself wastes tons of meat every single day that could not be sold.
The Hitchhiker’s guide to Grocery states that, If you know what you are going to buy, you should never turn back and check to see if anything else is needed. Because 100% of the time, you will be asked to get more. As I am someone who hasn’t read the guide (heck, the guide doesn’t even exist!), I ended up going for the door knob and making a courteous turn around and asked the dreaded question.
Me: “Do you need anything else?”
I could have simply opened the door and walked away merrily with just 1 item to buy, but no I had to be Mr. Nice Guy and turn around and ask. Little did I realize when I asked that question, that I was in for a big list of things to buy.
Wife: “Oh sure, we certainly need milk. I forgot about that!”
It is like Dominoes. You just tip one and the rest of it follows through and falls down. Now, being in US buying milk is not as easy as going to the nearby bakery and getting a half litre Aavin milk packet. It is much more confusing than you think.
Me: “Which ones?”
Wife: “Hmm… half gallon of 1% milk, 1 gallon Fat free and 1 gallon Whole milk” (Good luck trying to understand how the word “Milk” became such a long sentence).
Me: “Ok, I will get them.” and I thought I would be spared and that’s all I might have to get, but no. We are now going full fledged.
Wife: “Let me see the fridge!”
That is when I realized I would need a paper to write down the list, because my brain cannot hold more than 2 grocery item at a time. I already had 4 (Chicken and 3 kinds of Milk). I quickly grabbed an old receipt lying on the kitchen countertop and tried to look for a pen. After fighting for 2 minutes with the daugther over the only pen I could spot, which she was using to scribble notes on from her previous experiment, I was ready to take down the rest of the list.
Wife: “We need Apples. 4 or 5.”
Me: “4 or 5? Please give me one number and no, we can’t do 4.5”
Wife: “Ok 5 it is. You and your obsession with accurate numbers. We will also need a bananas. Just get a bunch whatever number you feel like and the usual Bread that we buy”
Choosing a bread itself is a big task. There are thousands of varieties to choose from. In India, it is easy to buy a packet of bread, you just walk to the nearby bakery and ask for a bread packet. That’s it your 2 minute bread shopping is done. But here, you have to choose if you need white or wheat or honey wheat or whole grain or multi grain or thin sliced or anorexic sliced and the list goes on. Thankfully, we just like the Sara lee Honey wheat and just stick to it. So no big deal there beyond your first few attempts of trying to choose and like one from the variety. We have already attained nirvana in the kind of bread that we need.
Wife: “And finally a Cabbage. Make sure it is white in color, it shouldn’t be green”
For a moment before that I thought the list was over with the bread. One more to the list didn’t hurt and so I added cabbage to the list.
As I was ready to shop in the store, working my shopping cart through the multitude of aisles, I realized that Cellphones are necessary evils. I have a separate post on themselves that I am waiting to post. I say this because, with an already confused mindset I get a phone call from home adding 2 more items to the list.
Wife: “Can you get 1 bunch of Cilantro and a bunch of Green onion? I forgot about them”
Me: “What? wait I don’t have a pen, I can’t write it down, I can’t remember the other ones, what did I buy, what else I need to buy, my god my brain is short circuiting, I see sparks.”
Wife: “You need those for your Hyderabadi Biryani tomorrow!”
Me: “Oh ok, let me just get it then, hang on!”
Butchers can easily upsell you.
Me: “0.75 pounds of Boneless skinless chicken thighs please!”
Butcher: “Sure!” and puts it on the scale “Oh! it comes to 0.84 pounds”
Me: “Take a little bit out please!”
Butcher: “oh, it is 0.64 now! that will be too far away from 0.75, you want more or you want less?”
Me: “Got me, I want more. Let’s do 0.84 pounds”
And so my friends, an average ordinary Indian Man who was quenching to eat a Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani one day, set on a mission to buy 0.75 pounds of Chicken but came back with a big list of items – 0.84 pounds of Chicken, 3 kinds of Milk, 5 Apples, 6 Bananas, 1 Bread packet, 1 Cilantro bunch, 1 Cabbage and 1 Green Onions bunch.
This post should have really been title “The Ordeals of Grocery Shopping – Part II” but I thought it would be cool to make the title rhyme like a movie and hence I titled it “The Indian man who went to buy Chicken but came down with a lot more”. Anyone wants to guess the real movie name that sounds like this title?
Edit: And the winner for the Movie guessing contest is Nikhil. The answer is “The Englishman who went up the hill, but came down a mountain”, starring Hugh Grant.