Sunday, May 13, 2007

Can consumerism be a good thing??

Yesterday afternoon, I ran errands in town. Both of our watches needed mending, Brad was running out of notebooks and I needed a day planner. This took me, among other places, to Garuda Mall, one of the largest shopping centers here in Bangalore. Across from the mall is another smaller shopping center and when I pulled up on my scooter to the mall, I noticed a new shop had opened. MAC.

For those of you who don’t know, MAC is a cosmetics company. They have fantastic products and were a staple of my New York existence. Those of you who know me know that I am not big on wearing make up, however when I buy it, I tend to opt for MAC. They have more colors than we could have ever imagined on our own and the make up tends to wear really well.

Just the sheer familiarity of it drew me into the store. I walked around, bopping to the music playing on my iPod and touching EVERYTHING. It was great. The colors were a veritable rainbow splashed across a shimmering palette. The cosmetic brushes were standing proudly, waiting for an artist to come along and paint a beauty never before seen. My smile was tracing from one ear to the other and I felt comforted just being there.

A similar experience happened when I went to Bangkok in March to take my GRE. I had a lot of time to kill while I was there and spent most of it meandering through Bangkok’s shopping district. If New Jersey is the land of strip malls, Bangkok is the land of megamalls. It was one Mall of America after another, stretching on for blocks and blocks. I wandered through the shops, dropping in on the stores that I always loved window-shopping in: Coach, Gucci, Prada. You name it, they had it.

As I wandered through the malls in Bangkok, I stumbled upon the store I miss the most. I wandered in and breathed in the joy that it gave to me. Up and down the aisles, my hands strayed to touch things that I could never find here in India. Up one row, down the next, I finally found myself frozen and unable to move any further without making a selection of the most important items they had to offer. In front of me, a wall of spices teased me into the remembrance of home. Ground nutmeg, tri-colored peppercorns, white pepper, lemon and garlic seasoning, it went on and on. While India is one of the spice capitals of the world, there is a dearth of options at the store outside of those that the average Indian uses in their daily cuisine.

Before finding myself in the nicest grocery store I’d been in for the past 9 months, I felt like a horrible individual. Walking through the stores, I found myself craving my life in New York and the job I once had there that made shopping in some of those stores a possibility. My hands reached out and touched clothes, shoes, books…you name it, I fondled it. But the grocery store made me realize that what I miss is the familiarity of shopping. I spent 27 years with one type of shopping system. One set of rules governing the products that I saw. When I came here, the rules changed and therefore so did the shopping. There is no shame is wanting, craving, the familiar. The brick of Parmesan cheese that was a staple in our house back home. The bricks of chocolate that made baking easier. An oven to bake it. Row upon row of tank tops in every style imaginable in a society where I feel comfortable bearing my shoulders. I miss these things and I look forward to seeing them again. But now, in Bangalore, there is the power of New York in a MAC store where I can always go to remind myself a little bit of home.

8 comments:

Penelope said...

As long as it was comforting, then yes, I suppose consumerism is a good thing.

Pete said...

Wait a minute...You don't have an oven!!!

E(Liz)a(Beth) said...

Nope...just a toaster oven...no fancy cakes for us... :(

mycaylyn said...

feeling sorry for you not being able to bake a cake, and you the master of cake baking! Want me to mail you a cake or just eat one for you? and by the way, you can bake ALL the cakes your little heart desires when you get back home and I promise to be the chief taster! I LOVE cake!! :)

TJ said...

Want me to send you an Easybake oven?

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