Monday, August 03, 2009

The Sunday Yatra

Honestly, I do want to tell you this tale. What I fear is a distinct lack of empathy from your heart. As I describe the Sunday Yatra, you'll label it as petty cribbing: After all, it was just a matter of 4 hours - Taxi rides across the lush green freeways of Singapore; Picking up small artifacts from mall outlets; Is that worth whining about, you may wonder...So if you have a heart of stone, please avoid reading further.

The broad objective as I set out alone this warm Sunday afternoon was to collect Japanese goodies for a company event. Daiso, selling all Japan stuff at $2, had stores in four locations across Singapore. I had a ready laundry list of items from each outlet. It should have been a simple task without the influence of grave errors on my part. I can confidently attribute these to a combination of education, IQ and personality issues.


Underestimation of the bulk of items


Sure, these Japanese artifacts are adorable. But they lose their cute quotient when you have to carry over a hundred of them. It is then just a cold mission. In full cognizance of this, I thought it through and decided to carry a suitcase to cart them back. Was it enough? Rohan gave me a classic methodology of volume estimation. Hence I incorrectly guessed the size of each artifact packet, multiplied that by a factor of 100 and compared that with a bad assessment of the suitcase size. 'This should do' I thought, and left for the mission armed with one suitcase.

Overconfidence on communication skills

When as a team we finalized on this idea of giving Japanese gifts, I had made some trips to a few local stores to select the right items. Explaining this unusual order of over a hundred items from stores unprepared for such deals wasn't easy. In some initial attempts, by the time I reached the tenth word in the sentence, "We are having a company event on 6-7 August. Can you provide 120 pieces of this item?", I would lose the lady's attention. Being experts in cordiality, they do not let their face convey any loud expressions. They continue to smile, assuming they'd catch up quite soon. Over time (honestly it took over 10 encounters), I could make out the difference between a genuine nod and a smile of cluelessness. (Note to self: Learning when people have stopped understanding your line of speech is important for the career too).

Finally, I had struck a deal with Daiso. From the lady at Plaza Singapura, I had a list of items which had to be picked from all the stores. I thought it was just a matter of a few minutes at each outlet - announce my name, pick up items, domo arigato and move on. Well, it wasn't.

Overconfidence on physical strength

After multiple attempts, I conveyed to the first store manager that I wanted bags that fit inside the suitcase. After about an hour, I walked out of the first of four Daiso stores. I had picked up less than a quarter of the items and the suitcase was already full. Going back home for help would have been the right thing to do. But two strong misleading instincts of Chalta Hai! and Masculinity led me to the second store with a full suitcase.

Sembawang
Sembawang was relatively a pleasant experience. Having just a suitcase in my hand, I had the freedom to move gracefully in the mall. Hey, the shop was on Level 1! I again took a long time explaining the term 'reserved item' and used some objectionable sign language to convey the shape and size of the items. Eventually, I walked out with 3 bags and a suitcase. Off to Jurong East!



Jurong East

I have previously in life never cursed a store for being on Level3. In fact, I quite enjoy the view of pretty groups of chirpy Singaporeans from the higher floors. But somehow, dragging a suitcase and 3 bulky bags, I didn't stop too long to breathe in the cold, shopping aroma of the mall. I spotted the Daiso store at a distance and shuffled to the entrance. By this time, I had cracked the Daiso code of communication. I Reserve Item. Call your manager. Yes Yes. Smile. Bring the items. Check my name. Yada yada yada. Had they been more open to consumer interaction, I'd have also punched in the numbers on the cash counter to speed things up.

With the additional baggage, I trudged out and found my way to the taxi stand. As I caught the taxi for Vivocity, the bulk had grown to 5 bags and a heavier suitcase.

Vivocity
There are two adjacent malls in HarbourFront. Of course I reached the 3rd floor of the wrong mall and completed a full lap before realizing my mistake. I then muttered curses and landed up at the final Daiso Store. I somehow grew extra fingers and picked the additional 3 bags and headed down.

Oh, I hadn't mentioned this earlier. The suitcase was stylish, but for its loud-mouthed wheels. They would grumble at low paces and really let the expletives fly as I began to walk faster. So through the 'Fashion / Accessories' corridor, in the glorious lane of HUGO BOSS and BOSSINI, I orchestrated quite a spectacle - A disgruntled shopper, sweating inside the aircon space, with 8 white unweildy bags and a noisy suitcase, almost screaming for the taxi stand to move closer.

The taxi line at Vivocity was a 40 people long queue. I wasn't surprised. Had I believed in God, I would have certainly attributed all this to some bad karma and the consequential punishment. Instead I blamed it on Murphy.

Over the next twenty minutes, the taxi found its way to my apartment. I struggled for the last hundred steps. I thought that the harder part of the journey lay in the week ahead; In explaining the theme of the gifts, the concept of the cat and enduring comments on how the glass could have a little thinner or the blue a little darker. Just before I put the bags down, having single-handedly brought over 350 delicate artifacts home intact, I felt that 'This part of my life... this part right here? This was called happyness.'
p.s - Gift items are a secret right now. More on that later.
p.p.s - A maneki neko gift to the readers who cried by the end of the article :)

4 comments:

  1. I did.
    You may now please get in touch with me at your soonest convenience and finalize the details of shipping my gift.
    Thanks,
    Kanan

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  2. You shouldn't have attached the pic. Somehow, u dnt look that burdened, as I had imagined after reading the post.

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  3. i agree with satbir.. Iyer looks like he is travelling to his relatives place with a suitcase and taking some mithai dibbas along :P

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  4. I did pause for a few moments to ponder over the status on my heart "soon to be stone-ish" but when the very same heart answered in the negative, I decided to read on. Looking at your picture, as Satbir and Shweta rightly point out, I guess am fast on my way to get completely stone-ish! Huh!

    You are nowhere close to overloaded man! With your muscles and fitness levels, you should have just tried lifting all that with your finger nail ;)

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