Tie worn to the IIM L interview - 55 bucks @ Big Bazaar (worthless)!
The feelings when I swapped it for a hand-stitched silk one of Italian make during final placements from foolish friend - priceless!
The first time Big Bazaar made an impact in my life when I wasn't expecting it to, is captured in those lines above. Big cricketer places crotch-guard before innings, small corporate fry try cheap-silk noose a.k.a. tie before innings. With such parking area metaphors taking afternoon naps in my traffic-torn mind, I walked into Big Bazaar, Koramangala in Bangalore. When I did walk out of the place, I was the proud owner of a skin rash, an extra plastic cover with the BB logo on it, a fake leather belt for 59 bucks and hyperactive brain cells figuring out how the bloody loop of the belt works.
But what shook me up were the 30 odd minutes I spent inside the place itself. Everyone worth their salts, right from paan-wallahs in street corners to media professionals are screaming loud about the influx of people from across the country into the city. If there were 5 places in Bangalore where you wanted to see this for reality, BB would have made it to the 3rd place atleast (any cross-section of MG Road would be ranked 1 and rank 2 would be taken by a sampling of any multiplex's restrooms).
After winding up two stairs, playing i-stamp-your-toe-you-stamp-mine with strangers, friend and me reached the men's accessories section. The broader term of accessories did not, unfortunately, include magic potions to make people invisible or Israeli smoke bombs. Had they, I would have used the smoke bombs on all those around and the potion on myself thereby decreasing population and as a side-effect contributing to global warming. Crowds were choc-a-bloc on all three floors with the most furious mobs reserving their presence for the billing queues. On more than my fair share of occasions I have played both observer and observed in the game of jumping queue lines to get forward. Today I donned the clothes of the former. Breathing down the neck of a certain gentleman who was holding aloft 3 'Vicky' underwear for 99 Rs. and 2 pcs of Vicky 'banian' for 82 Rs., murmuring obscenities in Kuvempian kannada, was me. The queue refused to me any further, partly due to the constant barrage of calls the personnel behind the billing machine was getting and partly because of consistent failures of the billing machine.
In steps graceful Bong lady! I was under the impression that she was looking around for someone, when it occured to me. Her eyes were in search of a fool who would let her into the queue, with or without consent. Our eyes met! Her search ended... abruptly. I was the chosen fool for the day. With grace she slid herself between me and the person in front. I got off his back. Vikram and Betal, episode 2, slipped out of mind in silent animated movements. Her hubby nudged her forward. She moved further and conquered fool 2. V&B, episode 3 was on. I was again on his back. We made small conversation. Big jokes followed. Three Coimbatoreans who minutes ago remarked about how vyaraitea was available in Coimbatore's Big Bazaar and not here stood ogling at Bong lady. They were loud, used gestures to good effect and had bought black shoe polish, purple socks, other paraphernalia and 3 pairs of jeans. Only minutes ago, two queues were converging at a distant point. I took the one less taken... however the other queue had me overtaken. I cursed .. in Kuvempian Kannada so the neck may understand. Not my neck.. Vikram's from the V&B rap team.
I hated Bong lady for breaking queues.. sacriligeous. I disliked Coimbatorean brothers for crude comments. More sacrilege. New roll of billing paper was strung into failing machine. Bong lady unabashedly acts like she was born in a queue, with the queue, for the queue. Billing personnel take out the first piece of garment.. from its middle slips out kinky cloth. It was 'first piece of garments' and not 'first piece of garment'. Coimbatoreans giggle, gush and crack vulgar vernaculars. Bong lady does not understand. Bong lady is embarasssed. Only women behind me in the queue. She might not have been embarassed had she been where she was supposed to.
She leaves puffing! Coimbatoreans come forward in their part of the queue. They picked the wrong size of denim and had stayed in the queue for 30 mins to get it billed. The queue must go on. Theyr'e sent packing from the counter. The things they bought weren't.
Coimbatorean brothers and Bong lady had proposed. Billing counter-boy had disposed. Justice was done. The man in front of me looked at me with eyes that seemed to reflect my thoughts. I closed my eyes momentarily and nodded my head simultaneously. He followed the ritual while facing me. We knew that justice had been served.
The belt was packed. I asked him for a spare cover then sneezed loudly. Allergens in the air. But all I could smell was sweat. Big Bazaar, just a stone's throw away from a swanky mall. A mall in its own right. A place where families came, perhaps every weekend to make the same purchases of commodities like rice. A place with hands of a kirana store but the skin of a mall. Middle-class India's big answer to their upper class cousins who want weekends with fine dining.
Friend and me stepped out of BB. We walked towards the Forum, appreciating the easy pick we had on the fake-leather belt. It was only 59 bucks. The 4 o'clock sun, shone brightly on us!!