Saturday, January 07, 2006

Shopping the faceless bureaucrat way

I had seen a waistcoat that I quite fancied in the Indian Village Industries Emporium, and decided to go and buy it yesterday. So I caught the train, and, on the way across town, I dropped in to the Khadi Village Clothing Emporium, as recommended by my father. It's a Government of India enterprise, proof that socialism works... sometimes. Imagine if you will a 1940's department store, with tiled floors and everything behind counters, with people there to serve you, but only if you approach them, none of this "can I help you?" nonsense.

There I spotted a waistcoat which I fell in love with, raw silk in cream with threads of all the colours of the rainbow interspersed across it. I had to have it. So I try it on, find that it fits to my satisfaction and ask to purchase it. An invoice slip is written and I assume that this is instead of an invoice. But no, I have to take it to the cash counter, where I queue to pay for it. They then give me part of the invoice slip, which I am to take to the packing desk, where I exchange it for a package with my item in it. As Kalina, my cousin's wife said, it's just like Bulgaria before the fall of communism (she's Bulgarian, so I'll take her word for it...).

All in all, a quintessentially Indian experience. And I love the waistcoat...

2 comments:

Sitara said...

If the shop was anyhing like 'Khadi Bhandar' then the service willbe from the 'Ghandhin times. On the other hand at least you have the advantage of the merchandise being of genuine quality and not some fake stuff to make a fast buck! So little queing is a small price to pay for good stuff.

Mark Valladares said...

Quite right, Sitara! If it's that good (and it is), it's worth waiting for... and next time I'm in Mumbai, I'll probably go back...