This is how a famous Bollywood song goes:
Hum tum ek kamre mein bandh ho, aur chaabi kho jaay!
Such an ambiguous song it is. You and Me locked up in a room – which one? Bedroom or bathroom or the Kitchen or the store room? and the Keys are lost, what keys? You have keys for rooms? is it the House Key or is it your Car keys? or is it even your key! With so much ambiguity in the song, the Guy must be an idiot to expect romance from the girl and the girl must be “idioter” to romance him anyway!
But this is not the point of the post, this is just a pointless introduction of this pointless post.
People have weird experiences when they shop in weird Indian stores in US. Let me assure you that the Indian stores in India are a 100 times better than the Indian stores in US.
This particular Indian store is more like a Godown or a storage room. Seriously, I have stopped going there as I had a few bad experiences with Billing and Customer service. There are other Indian stores here that are not weird, packed with nice friendly people and a neat place. Coming back to this one weird store, it was sometime last year when I went there for regular weekend Grocery. My job as a husband was simple, drive the family to the store, hold the then 1.5 years old daughter in the arms and just randomly move around the store.
I like random, you can be at your will. You can have a sense of freedom. But in this particular store, there is only a few ways of being random. There are only 3 aisles with each aisle enough for just one half of a skinny person to move freely and that half is his lateral section and not his cross section. On the extreme left there will be a lot of varieties of bags of Rice and wheat stacked like a mountain. You will see people desperately trying to pull out a bag of rice, without impacting the balance of the bags placed one over the other. If you walk through this aisle, there are chances of bags accidentally falling on you. Perhaps they should have a sign that says “Falling Bags” like the ones you will find on the freeways through mountains that says “Falling Rocks”.
The walkways between the aisles are not left alone. They are stacked with more stuff that can be sold. It is a marketing technique. People don’t look down, so what happens is they very likely stumble upon the stuff on the floor and fall flat. Then all they have to do was see a nice shiny glowing Potato and go “Wow!” and then grab a pound or two of it. Trust me, it really works, even though you will see more people falling than walking, it is more business this way than having less stuff stacked around.
The best way to stock up the merchandise is during the peak hours of people shopping. How else you will see the store’s stock person goes around the aisle arranging and stacking up new merchandise. It is like the Old Hutch cellphone ad – wherever you go we follow. This guy is just like that, he will be there whereever you go, he is omnipresent. He can shout at the top of his pitch to the cashier when the cashier asks him the price of a certain item. He is usually a Middle aged Indian Uncle who is a partner in that store business, with neatly Dabur amla oiled hair, a belly with the shirt unable to cover it fully.
Sometimes it can be a check mate with all the stuff lying around. As I was trying to work my way randomly through these flow restricted aisles, I entered an aisle to look for some ready to eat stuff. It was a trap, I couldn’t get out of it one way as the stock person had left a bunch of items there blocking the way. He then walks through me literally and begins stocking things in the freezer on my other side. So you see now I am in a check mate position and I can’t move out of the aisle until he finishes stocking, and I am left there reading the expired expiry dates of freshly stacked Ready to eat items.
My worst nightmare came true. The stock person sang the famous ambiguous Bollywood song –
“Hum tum ek kamre mein bandh ho, aur chaabi kho jaay!”
This time, it wasn’t ambiguous. It was straight on. I started sweating profusely and was about to faint but my love for my 1.5 year old daughter held me up on my feet and reminded me that there is still room for hope in life. I looked around and I saw there was not even room for placing one bag of chips around me with all the things lying around, where would I keep hope. Besides, the Stock man was insisting on singing the next lines of the song.
I was saved by a ray of hope. Some guy walked from the side where he was stocking in the freezer and said “Ekskuse me” in a thick North Indian Accent. That’s it, the gap was made. It was enough for me to sneak through and get to the other side, like the South Indians who sneak through in the Tirumala Tirupathi queue for Dharshan of the deity.
Perhaps Clint Eastwood should make a movie with this “Escape from Indian Store”.
PS: “Dimple Kapadia” is in the tag list, just to increase the marketing value of this post.