From shopaholic to Zenist: Why I despise shopping

Musings on everyday life


Suresh Pattali

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Published: Thu 12 Oct 2023, 8:16 PM

I had been peering over the screen for almost an hour not knowing why I was doing it at all. I switched between Amazon and Noon sites not knowing what I was looking for. The hundreds of products I was staring at on their homepage were of no use or significance in my life. I still dawdled on, scrolling up and down, until the words and images slithered off the screen and strangulated me.

My partner, who was sitting behind me with all her watchful eyes on my activity, shook me out of my digital trance.

“Listen, you have been staring at the screen for a long while. What are you looking for?”

“Something to buy. I dunno what, but something.”

“Are you mad? You ain’t gonna buy nothing for the heck of it.”

“True, but I’m bored.”

It was a replay of my daughter’s tantrum when we roamed about malls in her formative days. “Dad, I want to buy something. Something, but I don’t know what.” She never let money stay in my already shallow pocket.

A shopaholic once upon a time, I had collected 22 watches and then sold them in my rainy days. I bought all things classy to pamper my soul. I don’t know when I turned the page on such temporal pleasures. I had transformed. From pitcher to mug, double burger to nuggets, large size to small fries and Coke to H2O, it is a detour I had taken but hardly noticed until this guy at the pizza counter looked at me in horror.

“Beg your pardon. Can you please repeat your order?”

“BBQ chicken minus cheese.”

As many a face at the Pizza Hut counter turned red with amusement, my daughter came to my rescue: “Never mind, dad, it’s your age.”

Really? Am I at the fag end of the continuum called life when age accelerates, and passion decelerates? No way. I can still fall in love, write letters, party around, and knock at my door with remorse rolling down my cheeks, and wait until someone lets me in at an ungodly hour. But shopping vexes me now. I just can’t do it anymore. I enter an electronics shop and exit in a jiffy without even casting an eye on any of the gizmos I used to be in love with. AirPods? No. Apple Watch? No. Home Theatre? No. Kindle? No. Sneakers? No. Wallets? No. Camera? No. There is nothing that I want to buy. I don’t fancy fashion anymore. My Tees have assumed the shape of an amoeba.

I have been resculptured to a Zenist now. Whodunit? Maybe my son-DIL duo who holidays with me once a year. Every time I looked at a new product, they would ask: “Dad, do you really need it? Every time you want to buy something, please ask yourself the reason to own it.”

“Why own a home if you can rent it cheaper?” was how they reacted when I mentioned I needed a house back home. “Park yourself at a resort whenever you go to India for a week,” they said.

“Dad, to own a house and be home proud is an obsolete Indian concept. A lifelong bother. We may never buy one in Munich. Pack less commitments, obligations and promises in life. The lighter the life, the happier it is.”

I now shiver by the grocery freezer pondering how many boxes of grated coconut would suffice for a week. Does the Dh5.99 tomato make any Himalayan difference compared to the Dh1.99 ones? Can’t curry be authentic without curry leaves? Can’t fruit salad be complete without the Dh19/kg Kenya mango? My shopping world has shrunk from Dubai Mall to a Karama supermarket.

Shopping is so intoxicating that come the weekend, I still sleepwalk to the nearest mall. The urge to own something — never mind what — is irresistible, but I have grown up, as is evident from the latest buy from a grocery: A scented eraser, half pink and half green. It smells of strawberry. Not that I will be able to erase my craving with it, but it gives me the freshness of a new ownership. It’s so rhapsodic.

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