From as far back as I can remember, I never enjoyed spending money. My birthday checks would be promptly handed to Mammi, so she could deposit them in the bank account. Whenever I checked my balance, I would give a satisfactory nod, and dismiss everyone's pleas to buy something nice. I didn't need anything. Besides, if I wanted something badly enough I could always whine to my parents about it. Spending money was a time for mourning - there would be less money in my bank account. Shopping was a chore.
Of course, there has been the occasional large binge. A laptop. A car. Oh, and books. I could never say no to those musty smelling delights crammed with delicious, delectable words. For the past year, Nikhil and I have been living off of our savings; despite the bank balance falling faster than a cooling thermometer's mercury we've managed to indulge ourselves quite a bit. Spending money isn't a guilty pleasure anymore. But shopping is still a chore.
Yesterday, we visited the handicraft markets in Connaught Place. A line of artsy shops were packed in a row, each displaying wares and garments from different states. Glass windows displayed regional saris draped gracefully on awkward mannequins. The shops were filled with beautiful things - handcrafted, ornate sculptures of Krishna playing the flute, sandalwood carvings of temples, resin bangles, chunky silver jewelry, mirror-studded wall-hangings dyed in rich maroons and juicy greens. These visual treats satisfied my attention span for a few minutes. Then, out came William Blum's "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower." Reading about waterboarding and WMDs was much more appealing than sifting through pashmina shawls.
Five hours later, I cuddled into the warm, darkness of the cab and dozed off as the taxi bounced along Delhi's potholed roads. I'd finished a third of the book. Once again, I failed to understand what people (read: women) find tantalizing about going out, looking, sifting, bargaining, and - if the stars are in the right place - making that purchase. Just thinking about the process and the time it takes is exhausting. Maybe it's about owning nice things that gets those sparks flying. Or maybe some of us feel that if we have the money, why not spend it on making life a more pleasurable experience. I've heard some find shopping cathartic. Now that's a mind I'd like to pry. Even better, I wonder if there's a book about it...