Here is our Deepavali wish: Happy Pongal

As the final weekend before Deepavali arrives, we have a helpful bulletin for all the last-minute shoppers, which is: Don’t .

In fact, left to us, we will feature ‘never go shopping on the weekend leading to Deepavali’ as the first, and possibly the only, commandment in all sacred texts across religions.

We say this based on the experience we had a couple of years ago when we adventured into T Nagar’s shopping district, which is technically every possible nook of T Nagar. Looking back, it was a decision as stupid and senseless as that of Hitler’s to invade Poland. Of course, we agree that there can be no real comparison between Poland at the height of European winter and T Nagar — the latter, at the peak of its shopping season, is unimaginably more treacherous. (Compared to T Nagar streets, the traffic that Flipkart’s servers see on its big-billion sale day is, to use a complex scientific term, jujube).

The thing is Hitler and his men were up against just atrocious weather and formidable opposing armed command. Whereas we had to battle the most constrictive force known to humans till this day — the gridlocking T Nagar traffic. Any which direction we looked at all we could see was endless line of vehicles piled up in impossible inertia. We were stuck for so long that there was technically a case for us to apply for ration card and other official documents as bona fide residents of T Nagar. (Address: 23rd car (old no: 27th), Third Row, 270 hours, G N Chetty Street, T Nagar, Chennai -17).

Anyway, chastened by this experience, last year we planned for a safe Deepavali and accomplished it finishing our Deepavali purchases in April. The side-story to this is that by the time Deepavali actually came, we had grown two sizes bigger than the dresses we had bought. And we had to go without wearing new clothes for the festival. But we still had the bigger satisfaction of not getting trapped in the dreaded the Pothys-RmKV-Saravana Store junction, the local, but the more diabolic variation, of Bermuda triangle.

We hope things are better now. Or at least we hope the traffic snarl of two years back has finally cleared fully. Anyway, if you still want to go ahead and shop this weekend, we would suggest that you take an auto. One thing is, you don’t have to go through the pain of looking for a parking spot. For another, you don’t have to waste your energy swearing at other drivers (driving in this city actually comprises: 10% driving and 90% delivering cuss words at others in the road). The auto driver, who is a thorough professional in these matters, will take up this responsibility while you, sitting in the comfort of the passenger’s seat, can handle the other onerous challenge of swearing at the auto driver for plying without the meter.

Now for some actual shopping advice: Being festival time, most outlets are offering plenty of interesting and enticing offers. As a discerning shopper, patiently go through the entire list of offers and diligently weigh their pros and cons, and then choose to — both Amartya Sen and Jagadish Bhagwati agree on this —- ignore them all. Simply shop in a place where you have to pay, howsoever expensive it is, what is marked on the price tag

Seriously. We don’t say the offers are bogus. We simply say these offers just don’t make any sense. Most of them are on these lines: “Buy 3 shirts and you don’t have to pay for the fourth shirt that you don’t buy”. “Shop for Rs 15,000, and become eligible for exclusive shopping offer*) (*Conditions apply: You can shop for more as long as you are ready to pay for them, too)”. And this possible hall-of-famer: “Instant cash-back offer on all cards, except the one that you are using”.

Another thing you would do well is to acquire exclusive membership cards that almost all the important shops now offer free. When you shop with these cards you get important membership points, with which you stand to get more membership points and redeem them for — after all, consumer is the king — more membership points. Nobody in recorded history has got anything of real worth out of this card. Still, you part with your email ID and mobile phone number for getting this card, and the shop, in return, keeps you intimated on the various offers it comes up with on important occasions, like every 3 hours.

Jokes apart, here is to a Happy Deepavali to all of you. And in case you are out shopping in T Nagar, Happy Pongal.