Sunday, July 15, 2007

Maneka's Baroda Visit

It was with great pleasure that I welcomed Maneka to Gujarat for her first visit there. I was very anxious to make sure she had a good time and left with a good impression. Consider that mission accomplished.

In retrospect, the job wasn’t too hard. All I had to do was stick to a simple formula: Spend more time shopping. Probably 65% of our waking time here was spent shopping or doing shopping-related activities. And as she was able to get access to things she liked, it made for a fun time.

Maneka and I stayed at my Masi’s place for the weekend. She, like the rest of my family, was super excited to have Maneka over and to meet her and talk to her, etc. And of course the uncle questions and wedding questions were ready to be rolled out. My family means no harm; they are just excited about Maneka and want to make her feel like part of the family. And they want to get to know her better, and these are ways to strike up a conversation. What I didn’t expect was that other distant relatives would come over to meet her too, which I thought was rather awkward and when I got the inevitable wedding question I could feel some anger rising up. But that’s family, what can you say.

Masi went out with us to the shops, the first time she had left the house in a month due to illness. Obviously Maneka’s shopping adventure in Baroda was a big deal to her. But I’m totally glad she came. Watching her in action bargaining is a blast.

The first store we went to was a family favorite… every girl in our family gets hooked up by this guy Deepak at his store Shiv’s dresses. Deepak was a hilarious salesman. He wasn’t particularly pushy, but he was what could only be called FOB metrosexual. While showing dresses, he would say stuff like, “but the most awesome thing about this is the work on the churidaar”, or “this will look absolutely gorgeous on her perfect figure” and “this dress never will go out of style… it was worn during the time of the Mahabharat”. Sure enough, we ended up getting the “Mahabharat dress”.

We rang up quite a bill at Shiv’s but there was one more store that Maneka wanted to go to for saris. Apparently she had liked one that Jigna Mami had worn in one of Hash’s wedding pictures so we wanted to check out that shop since it happened to be in Baroda. That place, Thakoors, was more commercial than Shiv’s and I thought the selection was less impressive, but we ended up getting some good stuff from there. At one point Maneka got so into it that she hopped over to the seller's side of the partition and looked at the saris herself instead of them being shown to her. Bhoti and I had a bunch of laughs after I explained to her what “crap” meant in English, after the 50th time I had heard a dress salesman prounouce “crepe”, a commonly used sari material, as the other word. She could not stop laughing whenever the salesman would show us the “fine Italian crepe”. Needless to say he nor Maneka nor anyone but Bhoti and I were amused.

Maneka and I debated about a black sari, which I thought could be dropped" but she insisted was awesome and worth getting. At this point our bill for the day was about Rs.60K, which is a lot, but in the end we pulled the trigger on the sari after we calculated that all the shopping was still within reasonable budget, especially since we were getting hooked up with 20%+ discounts thanks to my Masi.

The next day I took Maneka to the ashram to show her around, and we had a special lunch with Kapilbhai and Dhartiben. Kapilbhai said after that he really liked her, which I could tell. We then went to hang out at Kamatiebaug, a famous park in Baroda, where we met up with Arch who had come from Amd for the day to see Maneka off. We talked and walked for a while, then headed back to Masi’s flat so Maneka could try on the clothes which had now been sown for her fit. She looked awesome… some of these outfits will be debuted at Sidd’s wedding, and I expect nothing less than jawdropping reactions. This is some high-quality stuff. Keep your eye out especially for the wine-colored dress.

We got a little boost of goodwill when Deepakbhai called to settle the bill, and Masa got on the phone with him to correct some bad math on the bill. That was enough of a pretense for Masa to ask Deepak for his own discount, on top of the one he had given Masi. Sure enough, he knocked off another few thousand Rupees, and we were happy.

And so she left back to Delhi with one extra stuffed suitcase of Rs.60K worth of high Baroda fashion. Gujarat Zindabad.

1 comment:

  1. neil... i applaud you for being able to go through with all that shopping! well played.