On the first part of the journey
I was looking past all the shops
There were clothes and shoes and baubles and mops
There was junk and trash and fops
The first thing I met was a klutz with a phone
In a shop where he bustled around
My head was hot and the wimmin were mad
And the air was full of sound
I've been on vacation with women who shopped
It went beyond all pain
On holiday, I knew I wuz copped
And there wasn't no one for to hear me complain
La, laaaa, la-lala-la, la laaa la …
After two days on the shopping trail
My head began to go spare
Three days left me haggard and pale
Life SO is not fair
The story got worse when we rode the rails
Made me sad to think I wasn’t dead
I've been on a journey with women who raved
After a while, I felt no pain
On holiday, I carted and slaved
'Cause there wasn't no one for to take me home just then
La, laaaa, la-lala-la, la laaa la …
After nine days the wimmin let me run free
When the hills had run down to the sea
There were clothes and shoes and tea-trays and lamps
Thinking of it gives me the cramps
Shopping gives meaning to a woman’s life
Opposing it causes strife
Despite all the shopping they had nothing to wear
And they kept buying large bags. In pairs.
You see I’ve been shopping in Purgatory
Nothing can hurt me again
From shopping, escape is illusory
If they stop you can be sure they’ll start up again
La, laaaa, la-lala-la, la laaa la …
I was afraid. Very afraid. For the first two days, I laid low. I said little except to worry aloud about the amount of luggage. I even left one suitcase (about as large as a camper caravan, wheels and all) behind in
Mistake. The lull etc.
We reached Mussoorie after breakfast. By , market analysts across
They bought THREE of them. Oh sweet Lud.
At least I didn’t have to carry them back from Kulri to Library Point. They were kind enough to deliver free of charge. Oh yeah. So kind. Can you see where this is headed? Back in our room, I was pondering my immediate future (and a possible vocation as a Sherpa) over a cup of tea when the bell rang. Deliveries started. For the next fifteen hours (OK, OK, minutes), the world was full of sweaty men and large packages.
Candles (Candles?!) Cutlery. (Cutlery?!) Carvings (Yes, these I expected) But canvas? No, not canvas. Wall hangings. And enough cardboard cartons to package the Gateway of India. Whole.
Stepping sideways in the aisles between the containers, I tightened my jock-strap another two notches and Got Down to Packing. There were 48 hours to go before we left Mussoorie and it didn’t seem anything like adequate. Exaggeration? OK, try this.
Take one Container. No, not a baking dish, ducky. A FORTY-FOOT container, the kind they use to transport industrial boilers. A fully loaded one. Clear so far? Good. Now take suitcases, large, two numbers. Plus duffle bags, also large, four numbers. Transfer contents of forty-foot container to said suitcases and duffle bags, taking good care to store separately ...
(a) baby’s stuff, as in clothes
(b) baby’s other stuff, as in bottles and Wet Wipes and diapers and the Devil knows what
(c) the rest of baby’s stuff, don’t even ask, I believe the damn things breed in there
(d), (e) and (f), stuff belonging to two ladies and more stuff that aforesaid two ladies have to have close to hand when they travel although in 2 weeks of driving around I never once saw either of them open that bag
(g) stuff belonging to a Certain Lady and to attendant Coolie with Strolley
(h) stuff that Certain Lady needs to have close to hand (stuff other than the Attendant Coolie, that is. He doesn’t go in the bags, worse luck, he carries them)
Tried it? Whadyemean, you can’t make it all FIT? Of COURSE it can fit. You’re just not TRYING … Remember you still have to fit our SHOPPING in there ... don't be such a drama king, there's nothing wrong with you, yes you can breathe perfectly now STOP the play-acting already and NO, I will NOT get you some water ...
On the fourth day of the journey … We were due to leave Mussoorie in 3 hours. Lunched at Whispering Windows for old times’ sake. It’s amazing how perceptions change over the years. When we were in training it seemed tres coolth. And expensive. Whereas now … Anyway, lunch was ingested, view was enjoyed. Coolie was then summarily dismissed. Entrusted with the duty of taking Very Small Person back to the rooms for an afternoon nap while the Powers that Be “pick up something we ordered yesterday, we’ll be down in a quarter of an hour”. Now this nap thingy, with the attendant singing of lullabies, telling of tales and clutching of finger by small hand, is something this Coolie quite enjoys. (Awright, so I’m a sap when it comes to the Small Lady). When, however, said nap runs its course, tea tray is brought in and there is still no sign of the Powers that Be, the Coolie tends to Worry.
Cell-phone connectivity in Mussoorie is not the best (though still awesome when compared to Nainital). I was debating whether to Panic Large Scale and call in the police, when the doorbell rang. The Powers that Be filed in, eyes slightly glazed, a certain swagger to their collective walk like a bunch of trainee vampires who’d just stumbled upon a blood bank. You know what I mean? Kind of proud and satiated and a little disbelieving of what they’d Gone and Done.
Except that the procession did not end with them. For lo, verily behind them came there came a caravan. One surmises gold, frankincense and myrrh were part of the loads, though I did not espy the apes ivory and peacocks. After the first speechless glare, I asked (I’m afraid I actually squawked in the heat of the moment. Humbling to realise that when one most needed to sound grave and Last-Trump-like, one sounded more like Chicken Little played at high speed) where they proposed that I should accommodate the train-load of junk. Their reply was a repeat of the Packing Order.
Then, in what I thought was a Master-Stroke of Reasoning, I pointed out that we could buy n number of bags, but we couldn’t fit them in the car. Surely they didn’t propose that we hire another car?!
Mistake. BIG mistake. Three faces lit up with sudden inspiration. I retreated to the balcony to smoke a moody cigarette or two. O Tempora, O Mores would have about summed up my mood at that moment.
One must give Credit where it is Due. The Better Half bought Nothing for the first ten days. (Assorted cutlery, the odd sackful of cushion covers and a bushel of embroidered stuff apparently counts as Nothing). I was eloquent in my gratitude and in my appreciation of her sterling good sense, I was effusive in my praise of her depths of sympathy and consideration. This is a HelpMeet, when comes such another, I thought and glowed with pride.
Cometh the Dawn …. Three hours to the flight back home, and I was taking a well-earned smoke break before I went to shower and change. I fancy there was a certain gleam of pride in my eye as I surveyed the Bringing of Order from Chaos. Suitcases, duffle bags, occasional bags – all stuffed to the gills and beyond, standing in line all through the room across the living-room down the hallway to the door like a file of obese children about to start on a nature ramble. I was also (mentally) thanking the Better Half for being Wise Enough to take the rest of the paltan out to visit a family friend, thus Giving me Space to Wrestle Stuff into Bags.
(I had spent two days shamelessly dumping large bags on anybody flying back to
Then, as I wiped the Sweat of Toil from my Brow and prepared to sluice the Tons of Soil from the Self, the doorbell heralded the Return of the Powers that Be. With the Better Half in the vanguard. Followed by … oh déjà vu … yet another caravan. With no more bags to spare. And hardly any time till check-in.
Words failed me.
They still do.