Racing past in an auto-rickshaw on the streets of Mumbai, the city appears decked up, eager to ring in the Festival of Lights. Lanes are stocked with shops selling lights, colours, and crackers. Even the local corner shop expects to gain the markup on seasonal goods.
I reminisce fondly of the sandalwood whiff of the Moti soap that was only brought out for the Abhyanga Snana. I almost smell freshly ground Utane filling the air. A faint cracker bursts in the thick fog of the balmy autumn morning. Dressed in our silks, we gorge on the scrumptious Pharaal, brimming with clarified butter and mum’s tireless effort. The squeaky-clean house has witnessed our struggle in wiping down the chandeliers and climbing over the balcony railing to string lights together. The corridor is smeared with Geru—an earthy-colored paste made with ground brick powder. The Diyas flank the neatly drawn and filled Rangolis who secretly compete with the other ones on the floor. One looked forward to shopping the most. Shoving through crowds as we haggled for wares at the market. Shiny wrapping paper that grandpa dearest would dismiss as a waste of money suggesting the good old newspaper be put to better use. The most expensive crockery was brought out for the guests.
The trip down memory lane is interrupted rudely by the ping on my phone. By now, every online shopping app installed on my phone has recommendations to make about Diwali shopping! Swiping the notifications left, I am left pondering. The Click-And-Buy model of shopping has certainly eased our tedious market exploits. With several smartly-monikered shopping festivals, countless orders are placed around the clock. Certainly, the marketing departments across companies must now come up with new and heart-touching portrayals of the festive spirit.
Bright sign boards reading ‘SALE’ draw us in. But can the number of shopping bags or delivery parcels quantify our happiness? Can the journey of the wishlist to the shopping cart mimic the fragrance of the marigold heap or dazzle us like mounds of Rangoli colour? Our homes are digitally powered but devoid of any honest connection. Smartly transitioning reels on Instagram portray messy to clean houses in a snap! But, do they ever encapsulate the honesty of our effort? Is a long list of purchases on your credit card indeed the measure of your contentment?
Digitisation has certainly changed the way we shop and rightfully so, businesses have adapted to this tech-first customer. In the absence of interaction in person, it compensates with impeccably designed product setups and easier payment methods. The attractive displays lure us to shop impulsively, sometimes even burning a hole in our pockets! Shopping is an experience-based activity that unfortunately is shortening gradually with minimum clicks. It is, however, impossible to make the reverse turn to the conventional ways. One can only hope for prudence, self-control, and rationality to guide our card-swiping decisions. Convenience birthed by technology is here to stay, as I’m reminded yet again by the ping on my phone reading—The Big Billion Day Sale!