(This is the second part of a series. Please read the first part if you have missed it.)
As I exited the Masjid, I was already making a mental note of what different chores I had to finish before I can go off for a brief walk in the Ramzan Bazaar. I hastened my walk because my first stop was the local grocery market. I had to go there, choose the shop which had the smallest crowd of shoppers and then buy everything that was required for the big day: the Eid. I had no more than an hour to do this before the grocery shops closed down.
I managed to cross the main road without getting buffeted into the entrance of Ramzan Bazaar. Between the huge surge of people who were walking in the opposite direction and the flow of vehicles that were turning into our lane, it was always difficult to navigate a quick way out. The recent spell of rain had not made things easier either. The surging crowd, the roaring bikes and now I also had another adversary: little poodles of dirty water.
At the grocery market, I was not surprised to notice a huge crowd of buyers at every shop. I stood there, trying to determine a course of action that will save me time. I couldn’t. Therefore, I steeled myself, took a deep breath and joined the throng of buyers at one of my favourite shops.
When you are at a grocery shop and there is a huge crowd, the best way to finish shopping (instead of waiting for your turn), is to catch the eye of the shop owner. (Yes, even buying groceries has a science to it and I have an experience spanning more than 5 years in it. Pity I couldn’t add this to my resume). I smiled at Ramesh, the son of the shop owner. We had developed a friendship of sorts and often discussed things such as sports and movies when the business was more relaxed. From behind the throng of the shoppers, I pointed to him that I needed only a few items. He nodded and with a gesture, told me to wait for just a minute. I smiled back and started to edge my way to the counter. This, however, proved to be tactless move. One guy noted what I was up to and blocked my way (his frame was thick enough to block me twice). I had no choice but to wait. While I was charting another course to reach the counter in my mind, out of the corner of my eye, I noted an old lady lift her shopping bag. Her body language suggested that she was leaving without completing her shopping. I sensed the opportunity and with a swift side-step, was finally there. I had reached the counter!
Another thing I have learnt from my grocery shopping experience is that you have to note which items are placed where in the shop, so that when you start naming them, you can do so in the right order, an order that will result in minimum movement for the shop owner. Therefore, Ramesh and his father were always very happy to serve me as a customer as they knew I tried to be considerate towards them. (Such goodwill never goes wasted when you are trying to save time).
Ramesh’s father had just finished serving a customer who was lifting his bag and was turning around to leave. (THIS -the few seconds- is a very valuable time as the person who grabs the attention of the shop owner will be served next and you will be left waiting for another 10 minutes.) I immediately named a few items that I knew were close at hand, successfully engaging the owner. Then I waited for Ramesh and named some more items that I knew were at the other side of the shop. This way, I ensured that I could get all the items I needed in the minimum time. (the person beside me was calling the shop owner to serve him, only to be asked to wait for a few more minutes). By the time Ramesh and his father had lined up the items I wanted to buy on counter, I had already totalled them and taken out the required amount of money from my pocket. Ramesh’s father would always accept the amount I had totalled –the man trusted me- but I always insisted that he himself calculate the total once again, which he did and I handed him over the money. With a smile, I took the change, thanked Ramesh and promised him that I will come again tomorrow as it was a sure thing that something must have been forgotten and not included in the list.
I reached home, wrote down all the items on another list along with their costs before making sure that the amount balanced perfectly with what was remaining in my pocket. After doing this, -relaxed- I poured myself a glass of water. I was twirling the paper list of items in my hands when something caught my eye. I set down the glass of water and straightened the list. To my horror, the list also ran on the other side of the paper which I had completely missed.
With increasing anger, I realised I was in for a tiring night.
-to be continued.
(This is an extract from ‘The Memory Lane – Diaries of AZ Damudi’)
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