There is one pecularity I share with the rest of my sex. Actually, there are probably several, but this one puts me firmly in the GIRL-girl bracket. I very much like to shop. Shoe shopping, of course, is my idea of a really sinful afternoon spent, but regular shopping will do it for me as well. And not just clothes or accessories or anything. I'm talking food, books, music, groceries, all that just makes my heart a little bit happier.
I went with a friend from work to Modern Bazaar the other day, at the Priya Complex, which used to be THE place to hang out at in Priya when it first began showing English movies, back in the day. We used to eat channa-kulcha type things then, but then Nirula's opened up and Modern Bazaar was left to the firangs who bought ancient Oreo packets there. Now it's all snazzy with all these cool products, and pretty well-priced too! Friend From Work and I went a little mad, picking up everything we saw and tossing it into our basket. But then we shook our heads at each other and took out most of the unnescessary stuff, like this pancake mix and syrup I had been eyeing. Oh well. Feeling very grown-up (because NOTHING can make you feel as adult as fancy food shopping) I bought a) blue cheese (not the Brittania slices, but posh cheese with mould on it) b) bacon (which my mom never let me buy too often because she was scared I'd get tapeworm. Honestly) c) a loaf of cheese and garlic bread, just baked and smelling yummy d) Cadbury's drinking chocolate, which okay, wasn't so fancy, but I wanted anyway and as a piece de resistance, a crowning glory if you will, as I got to the cash register I tossed in one packet of Malboro lights. How cool am I, baby?
But clothes shopping has always been a different deal. I've been shopping for my clothes alone, since I was about thirteen or fourteen. I remember before that my mother came with me, or aunts from the States sent me matching tops and shorts which I thought were so terribly cool, till I joined a big new school and realised they really weren't. I was invited to my first birthday party at Big New School and happily confident, I dressed up in my favourite frock, a more adult one than my others, because the sleeves were till my elbows and tight and the skirt didn't pouf out like the other ones and even the sash was all muted and understated in this peachy-rose. My mother dropped me off in an auto, said, "Have a good time!" and left and I walked up the stairs, bearing my birthday gift only to find almost my entire class there. All in jeans.
I think that was probably the first (but sadly not the only) time I felt less than confident and amazing in a room full of my peers. Everyone paused to look at me and I blushed violently and turned for the door, hoping my mother would still be there downstairs so that I could leave NOW, but the eleven-year-old hostess, who even though we have long since lost touch, remains to this day, one of the nicest people I have ever met, stopped me and said, "Oh, what a pretty dress! You look so sweet!" And so I stayed, but my party frocks were retired forever, given to the maid's children eventually.
I moved from Weekender to Sarojini Nagar when I was about fifteen or perhaps younger. I'm not sure exactly when, but suddenly all my clothes were emerging from there. This was the time when short, flirty skirts had just about come into vogue and everyone was wearing them, suddenly, as was I, despite a pair of matchstick legs. I loved twirling and watching them flare out, I loved wearing them to Khan Market, teamed with a purple polo neck t-shirt that I bought off a friend for 50 bucks. My favourite skirt was red with huge flowers on it, that came till about mid-thigh. I wore that everywhere, and there is a photograph of me that Leela has had forever, where I'm sitting at Chona's (in Khan Market, which made the BEST french fries in the WORLD, in those pre-McD days) and I'm smiling fakely at the camera and my skirt is in all its full, red flowery glory, spread across my knees.
I was a bit of a slave to fashion in those days. What other people said was cool, was what I wore, perhaps just to fit in, to feel more like everyone else. Stretch jeans were the fad one year, and everyone had a pair, clinging to fat legs or skinny ones with an oversized sweater on top. (Those jeans came in very useful once I went to boarding school, because then they doubled as riding breeches). Another season it was all about the tights--remember those black lycra ones?--we wore them everywhere, some more experimentative, bought them in hot pink or neon green, but I stuck to black. I forget when exactly the trend moved from oversized tops and tight bottoms to the other way around, but suddenly, before I could even blink, parrallel (I KNOW I haven't spelt that right) pants were everywhere, in madras checks and here I came into my element, because they looked so much better on me than they did on the other taller, less skinny girls. You teamed them with a sleeveless top, and they did look rather nice. I loved my parrallel pants. I wore them till they ripped, and then, sadly, they weren't making them anymore.
But I gave up when the really ugly fashion statements started hitting the market. Does anyone remember those horrible towel-material type tight tops everyone was wearing one year? They came in hideous colours, all pastels and oh, they were gross. Why anyone would want to put something like that on their body is beyond me. Jeans were my only concession to style, but once flared jeans came into vogue, I felt like I had died and gone to heaven because FINALLY there was something that looked good on me. They say now that flares are so out and straight fit are back in but they can go screw themselves. I'm sticking to my flares, I have a lovely pair I bought the other day, admittedly not as large a flare as my older ones, but a flare none the less, which ride low over my hips and are this beautiful shade of dark, faded blue. I still haven't thrown them for a wash, because they fit so WELL, but I'm going to have to soon. Jeans just ride so much better when they're dirty. (Levi's new range, by the way, if anyone's shopping, 544).