Thursday, April 7, 2005

Shopping for curtains

There have been many instances, which I have felt fatalistic: a feeling in retrospect that I had been drawn to a particular incident. Some of the end results have been good and some bad. When they were good, I have thanked my stars for having guided me right, and when they were bad, I just consoled myself telling: getting trapped too is a part of life.

At the same time, such incidents have also made me feel that, if not the entire life, at least some parts of it are pre-determined, whatever you do. This latest incident of mine -- fateful, but definitely not tragic -- was a very commonplace event; just a chain of events. But it set me thinking.

As we moved into our new house, we were looking out for curtains for windows and doors. We were told about the new type of "ready-made curtains" that have buttoned loops. We wanted to try them out.

Last Friday, we landed up in a shop in Commercial Street. That was the first shop we were checking out for these type of curtains. We saw a good range, found prices reasonable and decided on a set of them to buy. Also, the shop had a pleasing ambience inside. Something which made me like the place too.

Just after we decided on the purchase, I glanced at the place where the shopkeeper (a tall, fair, affable, suave guy, speaking good English) was sitting (on a stool near a chair and a table), I had a doubt if he would accept credit card, because I didn't find those contraptions there. I asked him if he would accept the card. He said, No.

As it's very hard to find a shop now-a-days which doesn't accept cards, and since we don't walk around with much cash, I asked him, why he didn't have the facility. He said, the shop is new, and that he was getting it.

He then directed me to a few ATM counters near Commercial Street. But since we were running short of time, I told him that we would be back the next day. He said he would keep the entire bundle for us. We were quite happy and decided to return the next day, with cash.

On our way back home, we wondered on the prudence of buying from the very first shop we had checked out, though we did like the material. Why not check out a few more shops? In fact, we saw many shops in Commercial Street itself and in Indiranagar where there were such curtains. Why go all the way up to Commercial Street again? That shopkeeper will wait for one day, and then he sell it to someone else. After all he is a businessman.

Over the next couple of days, we visited some three or four shops in Indiranagar. Of course all of them did accept credit cards. But, either we didn't get the required colour, or the price and quality didn't match.

Disappointed, on Monday, we returned to Commercial Street, and got into a shop. There too we saw lots of curtains. But again, somehow we weren't convinced.
So, finally we decided to go to the that very same shop we had visited first. But, will he have that set still with him? It was very unlikely that he would have, seeing the number of people checking out curtains along with us that day. But more importantly, again I didn't have the required cash in my wallet. Even if I emptied my purse, I would still be short by some Rs 60.

So, I decided to go to the near-by ATM counter. I was third in the queue. The first two withdrew cash and left. When my turn came, the machine developed some problem and just wouldn't dispense cash. The fourth guy in the queue too had the same experience. I went to the bank beside the counter and informed the concerned person. He said the notes had got jammed and a technician will have to be called. He directed me to another ATM near Bowring Hospital.

We walked to that ATM counter. Believe it or not, here the machine wasn't reading the ATM card! Again, not just me, a couple of other customers too had the same problem; and two of us walked into the bank, and informed the officials of the problem. Their answer: it could be a network problem; we'll have to call the technician.

Neither could I buy the cushions, nor could I take the cash. Left with no alternative, we decided to check out yet another shop, where probably we would find the right curtains and where our card would be accepted. We had seen one at the end of the road. It looked good and we were very hopeful that we will find the right curtains there.

But it was a disaster. None of their collections came anywhere near what we wanted. But the sales girl was very enthusiastic and suggested that we get the curtains stitched. When we said we had no time, she promised to deliver them the same day!

We made our exit, and having been really boxed into a corner, for the second time in about half-an-hour we decided to return to the very first shop we had visited. I had less money than I would have to pay and with very slim chances of finding the curtains we wanted. If we did find the set intact, I thought, I would show my purse to him, ask him to take whatever there was in it, and pay whatever little is remaining later. Hopefully he would agree.

When we reached the shop, the shopkeeper had a warm smile to welcome us, back. I said, "We had been out during the weekend..." He was equally apologetic: "I waited till yesterday, kept them for you... I think they are now gone."

Hiding my disappointment, I said, "I neither gave you an advance amount that day, nor I took down your contact number... It's okay... I know you couldn't have waited endlessly for me..."

He then interjected, and told an assistant to confirm that those pieces had indeed been sold out. That guy came back to say that what we had selected were intact, and the set that was sold the previous day was of some other colour!

The assistant brought the entire bunch for us to check. It was indeed the set we had selected. Before confessing that I was again short of cash, I asked the shopkeeper, how much it all totalled to. He took out his calculator. I couldn't believe my ears.

He told us a figure Rs 110 less that what he had told us the other day. Which means, I would actually be left with some Rs 50! Just to make sure that there was no mistake, I got the calculation done again by the shopkeeper.

Not much time was wasted. Contented, we thanked the shopkeeper, and he too thanked us for coming back to him.

On our way back, I was wondered if the shopkeeper believed what I had said -- that we had gone out during the weekend. Or may be, who knows. But why did the price come down, by a good Rs 110. There was not even the slightest bargaining. Since we had returned, if at all he wanted to change the figure, he should have actually hiked it. Or, did he make a mistake the first day?

I just kept thinking about the chain of events: how we began at one place, how we changed our plans, again, and again, and again. But ended up at the precisely where we started.

The typical explanation: It was destined that we should buy the curtain from that very shop -- the lack of cash, the delay, nothing seemed to matter!


  1. Ya,at the end of it all,the only word which comes to mind is destiny:)

  2. Ah, the extraordinary adventures of such an ordinary task.

  3. It is amazing the kind of stories one gets to listen with a few friends around. And the best part is its always a true story at the end. That some guy actually had the opportunity to say or do something so silly always has me in splits. The conversation slowly moves from one poor jerk to another till we all run out of gas.
    And when it comes to ur scenario...well we run around always in life for something or the other till the end..infact my friend came across the same incident last week.

  4. Dear Pradeep,
    Such incidents sometimes makes us believe in destiny. I have had several such experiences. I will write about it in my blog.

  5. ya, how do you explain these things? Like my grandmom would have said " there is a right time for everything"!!

  6. Destiny seems to be set of circumstances. Pl take a look at my blog