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May 30, 2016

On Travel and Breathless Shopping Sprees

Text by Nisha Jhangiani

When travelling intertwines intimately with shopping, sparing a moment to take a breath seems like an unacceptable waste of time….

Those closest to me have often commented upon the fanatic-like role I take on whenever a sparkling bauble catches my fancy. Apparently I get an obsessed gleam in my eyes and my speech adopts an impassioned tone as I impressively rattle off multiple valid reasons for the purchase of a love-at-first-sight item. This cycle continues in a loop for hours until its ownership lies with me or, alternatively, I have been distracted by a worthy opponent — a pair of block heels from Marni or a blood-red Chloe Faye bag. There is no cause for worry as this mental condition is deemed perfectly normal and quite common too; if anything, I suffer from level one of this shopping malady; numerous peers of mine are at a terminal stage where the time lapse between discovery and buy is a matter of seconds.

I’ve lost count of the number of afternoons I have spent at the corner of Harrods or at the end of Via Condotti, nursing an inflamed shoulder as I plop down on the pavement. Surrounded by an embarrassing number of shopping bags, I greedily guzzle a bottle of water to quench the thirst and appease the hunger that have nagged me, thanks to forgotten breakfast and lunch. I have consequently bought a shameful number of things I don’t need. The things I do need have been bought in such a fit of delirium that I land up with multiple versions of everything that, in turn, again go to the ‘not needed’ pile.

I put an end to the illness a year ago. The brands that are available back home will now be sourced locally. Salespeople at Gucci, Chanel, Zara and H&M are counted as friends; they are the ones from whom I seek solace (and a quick buy) when my inner circle writes me off as raving mad. The world of online retail has also welcomed me with open arms.

I can be more specific and time-efficient now. Handcrafted leather from Milan, high-street British fashion from London, day basics from New York, and so on. It can get more detail-oriented as well; evil-eye-14-carat gold bracelets from Istanbul, French butter and truffles from Paris, cotton eyelet from Bali, home accent pieces from Barcelona, jute wall hanging and sweatshirts with cheesy slogans from Tokyo, cold-pressed coconut oil from Kochi, antique posters from Jodhpur, gota borders and custom-made jhoomars from Hyderabad (yes, I still buy things I don’t need — the disease does tend to strike back occasionally).

Finally, a holiday can mean spending an afternoon at Vondelpark — with my back flat on the warm grass, some good friends, good books, good wine and a generous picnic basket for company. Finally, I can take a deep breath and exhale…leisurely, no rush.

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