This happened to you last year: You and your family set out for some eleventh-hour emergency supply of kurti/kajukatli/jeans/jalebi and were trapped in a traffic that seemed stuck from previous Deepavali and you firmly told yourself that next year you would do all your shopping much early and not be laid low by the maddening traffic.
Tell you what, it’s not going to be any different for you this year, too.
Well, Deepavali is a big tradition in this country. Last-minute shopping for the same is a bigger tradition. And getting caught in a traffic jam while out on shopping is the biggest tradition of them all.
And for all of you planning to shop on the last weekend before Deepavali, here is a brief lowdown on what is new in the market vis-a-vis crackers, dress and sweets, which constitute the core of Deepavali shopping.
Crackers: Till a decade ago, Deepavali was definitely defined by crackers.
Getting up early in the morning, and in the true spirit of the festival, bursting a 1000-wallah, but sensitive enough to not disturb other people, by tying it on the tail of dhobi’s donkey, was considered a major high point for many of us.
Another popular rite of passage of the day was to propel the ‘rocket bomb’ right into the garden of the neighbourhood uncle’s house in a friendly, good-humoured retaliation to the fact that he didn’t allow you to fetch the ball that you hit into his house during a street cricket game.
Unceasing sound and total irresponsibility —- yeah, just like Parliament but not that utterly purposeless — was what our Deepavalis were made of.
Unfortunately, today’s youngsters — it pains me to write this — seem to have become careful and sensitive. These days, crackers are frowned upon by everyone, including the cracker industry people because what is available in the market is mostly China-made.
Plenty of fancy fireworks that can brightly light up the night sky has flooded the market. And they cost, er, a bomb. To be sure, they are colourful and attractive. But the major downside of modern-day flashy skyshots is they can’t be tied to the tail of the street dog. We think crackers have lost their purpose.
Dresses: If you are a guy, we are happy to report to you that showrooms are filled with a mindboggling variety of fashion brands offering a multitudinous spread of trendy attire, which can make you look extremely stylish when you try it out in the showroom but somehow make you seem silly when you actually wear it in real life.
Seriously, we have strong doubts that dresses change character when they are removed from their traditional habitat (shops).
So your best bet, as ever, is the standard pant and shirt. But whatever you might buy, we have one simple advice: stay away from the slimfit stuff. Nobody has ever managed to look slim because he was wearing a slimfit dress. On the other hand, people can manage to look slim —- I would want this to be written into the Constitution —- if they are basically slim.
And we come to women, who are generally fiercely fastidious in matters of fashion and dressing, which in practical terms means they wouldn’t mind spending one full afternoon looking for a very small dhuppatta. Ha. Ha. Ha. That was typical jokey exaggeration that insensitively harps on gender stereotypes. Okay, then we will recast the sentence factually: Most women wouldn’t mind spending one full afternoon looking for a relatively small dhuppatta.
Anyway, women obviously have plenty of options when it comes to attire and it is but natural that they take time to make a choice. But to be fair to them, they kind of compensate for that by discarding it from their wardrobe pretty fast. Sometimes on the very same day they bought it.
Sweets: Deepavali is a festival that marks the death of demon Narakasuran and the people celebrate the occasion, as the lore has it, by trying their best to become terminal diabetics.
Seriously, Deepavali generally sees insane amounts of sweets being gobbled up, and to wear off whose effects some of us may never have to get down from our gym treadmills.
And these days, sweet options are many more than ever as our city landscape is dotted with several shops, choc-a-bloc with goodies, which can make you gain calories merely looking at it.
But don’t hold yourself. After all, festivals are meant for enjoyment. Go ahead and gobble that rasamalai or kaala jamun. To hell with calories. Also, who knows, next year they may be replaced by Chinese sweets.