Put a lid on it

This happens to be one of those posts that have been bugging the Hipposaur (now grown into a fuzzy purple mass) for quite some time. Having lived in a city peppered with convenience stores since the last four years, life could not have been better for our fuzzy friend. That is one of those annoyingly urbane habits that the Hipp has developed of late: browsing through convenience stores; specifically, convenience stores that sell groceries. Nevertheless, the bugger's from Red Bengal ain't he, you might ask, dear reader, why would he do that to himself? Wouldn't he be better off touting a jhola and rushing off to the nearest local produce kirana for his weekly grocery fix?

Truth is, this being a blog would inevitably verge on the confessional, ergo, we ask for your patience.

Truth is, the Hipp is a visual creature, easily excited by bright lights and colourful shelves. The phoren-cutting grocery supermarket therefore becomes his weekly shot of quick-fix-capitalism that helps him trudge through the week in a relative state of functionality. Yes, a shame, but he admits it - the Hipp is a grocery whore, who cannot quite help himself, despite the menacing threat from hawk-eyed employees. And that's where the story gets interesting.

Truth is, clueless employees at any big store freak out the Hipp. Far removed from the neighbourhood kaku selling suspiciously neon-orange labenchus (that is candy for the uninitiated) in south Calcuttan suburbs; the new age convenience store employee is a wholly unexpected force to be reckoned with. Right from the young bunch of ladies caked with way too much foundation who insist on selling a rather hirsute male (the Hipp, that is) skin toners and vegetable protein shampoos, to the obligatory guy at the grocery aisle who will disappear in a cloud of smoke the moment you ask him anything, the Hipposaur has reasons to be afraid. Yet he still stalks the supermarket shelves with a needle and a spoon.

Truth is, supermarket employees are honest folks trying to make ends meet, who share seats while still clutching on to their sweat-stained Hyderabad Central emblazoned caps at the commute, who'll probably strike a decent conversation about current affairs if you make the effort. This is the face of the new urban have-nots, a sizeable pool of unskilled employees at the service sector. However, when they are in the aisle, the Hipposaur is afraid. Right from the eager clerk who would relentlessly spray perfume on strips of paper at the eponymous section, even if you simply want to see the bright bottles (colours are good), to the grinning young man who'll keep nodding to anything you ask him, the supermarket-slash-multi brand store is an esoteric and highly confusing social space. Befuddled? You should be.

Truth is, the Hipposaur does not quite know how to deal with the young lad who will rattle off basenotes and topnotes at the drop of a hat at the perfume section, all the while aware of the fact that the lad in question probably could never afford the decanter of Issey Miyake he's trying so hard to sell. Add to this the fact of the Hipposaur's fuzzy recollections of the abysmal working conditions of employees (damn the stint at the newspaper!), blend this with his general discomfort at uniformed individuals staring him down while making purchases and you have the perfect recipe for social awkwardness.

Truth is, the supermarket system works on the Big Brother ethic, with the clueless employee in the red cap automatically becoming the inevitable front-end punching bag for their well-heeled customers. They are trained to act the way they do, and hang around your neck only because the big man in the suit told them to do so, never mind if its carrots, or Cool Water by Davidoff.

Truth is, the clueless employee in question probably never grew up in a world governed by packaged vegetables and eau de toilette. As the Hipposaur makes his way to the express checkout, a niggling discomfort remains. But hey, someone’s gotta do the dirty job, right? With such capitalist-Zen-sedative explanations abound, troubled souls like the Hipposaur can be at peace, until the next mall visit, that is. After all, he cannot go cold turkey, not after bearing witness to the wonders of packaged carrots and Cool Water by Davidoff. One of these days, he might even burst out of the pro-cap-brahminical closet...

(The author confesses of never having actually used Cool Water by Davidoff. He has, however, pestered employees to give him a whiff of said product, and then deftly pocketed the tester strip thereafter.)


Sarit said...

Haha...grocery whore indeed. Loved the part about the perfume section and bright bottles.
Awrrrsome post

GreyVitriol said...

Grocery whore!
Grocery whore in a pro-cap-brahminical closet.