Eid calling: One man's tale of surviving Chaand Raat shopping
Ladies, if you have a man in your life who takes you out for 'Chaand Raat ki shopping' without complaining then you need to treasure him. Though if it’s your husband, then that’s fine. His spirit was broken long ago and he’s resigned to his fate.
If it’s your father, then stop lying, they don’t make fathers who won’t complain about driving around at stupid o’clock in the morning (unless he really wants to get away from your mother).
If it’s your brother, then he should probably be thanking you. You are his ticket to ‘family only’ shopping malls. Now try not to slap him as he stands around staring and drooling like he's at the Playboy Mansion rather than Dolmen Mall.
If it’s your boyfriend, and he seems to be genuinely enjoying this night then he’s really into you, perhaps even in love. You should probably not share news of your arranged marriage for now. Let’s rip his heart apart closer to your shaadi time.
If it’s a single male cousin the same age as you or perhaps a little older, then oh boy, you are screwed. This bhai of yours has already planned your wedding. Congratulations on limiting your gene pool. You now may have some mutant babies, and not the kind you see in X-Men.
No, in general, men don’t like Chaand Raat ki shopping, because we really loathe large crowds. We also like to breathe air which is 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, and 1% other gases, not air which is a 100% mix of sweat, farts, tear vapor from women who can’t find the perfect lawn ka jora, and various dupatta dye smells. This mix is especially toxic for us when shopping in creaky rundown shopping centers on Tariq road where there are 500 fans running in every shop and it is still 50 degrees, where the air is as humid and moist as a moldy old double roti, where the air is so rancid bacteria would not survive.
I apologize if I am generalizing.
For women, I realize it’s no picnic wading past large aunties whose makeup has melted in the heat leaving their faces looking like Picasso paintings, aunties who haven’t heard of the invention of deodorant. But at least you are motivated to find those perfect pair of shoes for your Eid ka jora. If the tables were reversed, and this was San Diego comic con, I’d be whizzing between the aunties like the Millennium Falcon through an asteroid field.
The problem begins with the traffic.
Everyone and their grandmother is out for Chaand Raat ki shopping. A five minute drive turns into a fifty minute one. Meanwhile, the windshield cleaning boys are out in full force during Chaand Raat, stalking traffic signals with a squeegee in one hand, and a bottle of cleaning liquid in the other. No, it doesn’t matter how clean the windshield is, the squeegee boys will attack you like post-apocalyptic zombies swarming humanity's last habitable outpost.
Finally, you reach your shopping destination, and there isn’t a parking spot in sight. Your man drives slowly in hopes of spotting a vacant parking area while impatient drivers stuck behind scream profanities as they blast their horns. Eventually, you find a spot, but it is a ninety minute rickshaw ride from where you want to shop. What’s more, it is pitch black with not a human soul in sight.
While shopping, our level of honesty is inversely proportional to how long we’ve been at the mall. After five hours, you could be trying on a barrel keg, and we’ll tell you it’s the most precious thing ever made.
Here, a small disagreement can take place before the two of you step out of the car. Your man is happy to have finally found a parking spot, but you don’t want to want to walk such a distance. At the same time the two of you are tense because the area is dark and times are dangerous. This is when someone suddenly knocks on the window, and you are surprised to hear your man scream like a five-year-old girl. Thankfully, it is a just a beggar, looking for some coin.
Finally, parking is done, and both of you step out of the vehicle. This is when the parking wala comes up to you demanding his twenty rupees. The parking fee is nominal, and paying them for their hard work is not a problem, but it is remarkable how the parking wala can find you regardless of where you are parked. You could be hiding on the moon, and a parking wala will float by: “Sir, paisay. Sir, paisay!”
Eventually, the two of you are inside, and the shopping begins. There are thousands of shops to visit. How delightful.
Every shop you enter, your man only has only one goal in mind; to find a place to sit. Yes, our eyes are trained to find an empty stool or a vacant chair like a sniffer dog is trained to find contraband. Sometimes we’ll see the seats already taken by an elderly lady, and will fantasize about pulling it from underneath her.
In dusky old shopping centers it is particularly heavenly to enter an air-conditioned shop. Here, even the weird pungent smells of the freshly dyed clothes start smelling good. Things seem even better if there is a nice place to sit. But just as we rest our posteriors down, we are disappointed to hear that you are moving on to another shop.
“Chalo? But we just got here?” we silently protest. “This shop is nice. Are you sure you don’t want that hideous blouse?”
Of course, as you go from shop to shop you’ll ask us how a garment looks on you. Now, trust me when I say we don’t enjoy lying. We like being completely honest about how that polka dot blouse looks like it belongs more on a giant panda, and how those pair of shoes look exactly like the five trillion other shoes in the store.
But our level of honesty is inversely proportional to how long we’ve been shopping. After five hours, you could be trying on a barrel keg, and we’ll tell you it’s the most precious thing ever made; “Now let’s buy it honey and go home.”