I have never warmed up to the idea of shopping. I guess I owe it to my dad's dilligent stinginess and my mom's utilitarian shopping skills. Mom shopped for us when we grew out of clothes ( which did happen quite often owing to her great cooking skills). Dad on the contrary refused to believe his kids grew( "Oh they are small, its just above the knee, no my daughters arent old enough to wear a bra"). Mom had strategic plans for shopping. She shopped mostly at home.
No !!! these are not days when online shopping happened and we lived in the Middle east ( also known as the Ggulfffu by the proud Malayalees). My mom who could never shop without dad's approval found solace in her magical man ' pettikaran' ( the suitcase man). He was the hero of my childhood days. A pot bellied man with a skull cap and a magnificient beard with few greys, always dressed in lucknowi chicken kurtas or embroidered shirts, that's how I remember the 'pettikaran'
You could call him the modern day self fashioned kabuliwala who came home with a world of fashion captured in his huge suitcase. And mind it!!! these were days when parents did not know the difference between tailors and fashion designers, so pettikaran to us was our family fashion designer. He decided more than anyone else what our options were for the year and the bonus was we could select from his large suitcase- a liberty we never had in dad's presence in a shopping mall.
His suitcase never failed to meet my mom's expectations. It had everything from vests and briefs to dresses and night suits, sarees and hair clips, yardley and brut. He was my mother's accomplice in her secret shopping spree. He smuggled stuff we needed and mom treasured the sarees he supplied which she would then gift her family when we went for holidays to India.
I remember vaguely the pronouncement of the 'pettikaran' which was a synergestic sound with the mix of a goat and camel cry combined at a low note. I still dont remember what exactly he announced was it ' kapde', ' samaan', or something like 'eeeehaaaahhjjkk'. But whatever it was , it was the sweetest sound I had heard and I longed to hear it on and on.
Times have changed, I have the freedom and luxury to shop from malls but my heart does not skip a beat at the sight of any piece of cloth or accessory, I never feel the warmth from any mannequin or sales girl as I did from the pettikaran. I don't know if it's my status of being an adult or the new found freedom, that deprives me of such pleasures.Or is it the realisation of having to decide on clothes a chore I disliked so much and left to mom, that makes me feel empty in these malls today. And as I slouch and drag my feet making the same old irritating noise with my sandals hoping to hear mom scream from the corner -" walk without dragging"- I inhale deeply and close my eyes and I can hear the 'eeeehaaaahhjjkk' somewhere in the distance and I wait for the pettikaran to rescue me from this chore like I did for Santa Claus.