I am writing this post from Bhubaneshwar where I am on an official visit.
Having been to Bhubaneshwar a few times earlier, I am familiar with what the place has to offer by way of shopping options. But shopping alone is not fun. However, I realized soon enough that what was even less fun was to be stuck with a bunch of male colleagues who had absolutely no interest in any kind of shopping activities! I had to spend about an hour encouraging them to venture out into the market place ( the “Market Building” is the Champs Ely see of Bhubaneshwar) with me. A couple of them reluctantly agreed to come along.
Orissa is a Mecca for handloom lovers- the Sambalpuri saris with the Kotki prints are available in every colour of the rainbow in the various state run and private run outlets. There are not just saris but also dress materials, dupattas etc
Now did any of this excite my friends? No!
I told them categorically that I would not let them leave the place unless they bought something for their wives. I dragged them next inside Priyadarshini and let the two salesgirls loose on them.. moving on to the next shop to look at something for myself.
When I got back after a quarter of an hour I found that things were pretty much as they were when I had left. Both these gentlemen were standing uncomfortably in front of the sales girls.
So, what was the problem?
They did not know what to buy!
Is that a big problem? What were the sales girls there for if not to help build some awareness about the different types of prints and weaves. But was lack of awareness about the fabric the problem?
I realized soon enough that these poor guys did not know anything about colours! I mean, they could identify colours but were somehow afraid to come to a decision on which colour saris to pick. I decided that this was probably something that I should help them with.
“Okay, what is your wife’s favourite colour” I asked and waited for an answer… ! I wondered a little later if I had asked some kind of a complicated question because neither of the two gentlemen could answer it. I tried to make it easier for them “What is the colour that she does not like” – I mean one could arrive at a decision by elimination too! Silence once again..!
I was getting irritated.. Finally one of them asked me to select. And I did exactly that – selected two saris for wives of two colleagues –ladies who I had never met!
Gentlemen, does this sound familiar to you? How many of you have gone to a shop to buy something for your wives ( willingly or dragged by someone like me ) and ended up buying something through a series of guesses or through the advice of a good Samaritan like me?
I know that it must have happened a number of times with my father as also with my husband!! The few times that these men in my life have bought me gifts their choices have in no way been close to what may have been my favourite in terms of colour or design. But I cherish them because they have been bought with love ( or so I imagine! I would not like to think that it was a result of inability to cope with the pester power of women colleagues like me) However, I must say that both these men have been consistent in their choice of colours. Both of them have bought me stuff always in pale shades of white or grey!!! My mother has also received saris in the same colours ( the few times she has received a gift from my father)
I guess what men do when they are faced with dilemmas like this is to go for colours that are their favourites…!
Men often say that they find it difficult to understand women- much less what women’s preferences are around clothes or jewellery ( besides the fact that women are reputed to like diamonds) . Men’s powers of observation (about their wife) deplete with every passing year of marriage. Whether I wear a silk sari with heavy brocade or my usual “uniform” of track pants and a T shirt, the reaction from my husband is often the same.., sure the silk sari may make him ask “Aren’t you feeling hot in that thing in summer” but that’s about it.. He may not notice that the “thing” may have been the sari I wore when we got married…
I don’t know if this is a cultural thing? As Indian women, we make least demands in terms of gifts. Sometimes we also scold our husbands when they buy us a gift on an “impulse”- telling them they spent a lot on something we did not need… We rarely tell them what we like and more importantly what we do not like, expecting that they will perceive it.
But take it from me friends- men are least perceptive about such things. Yes, they can sometimes sense our moods but they prefer to keep that fact away from us pretending that nothing is wrong. This entire attitude about ignorance around the home front with most men is rather surprising. For example, both my father and my husband do not know where certain vessels or cutlery belong in the kitchen – I wonder if it is ignorance?
Whatever, it is , I find that men thrive on this kind of ignorance. It keeps them away from taking responsibility for their actions.. ! So what cannot be cured must be endured . Great going guys . As a strategy ignorance certainly works !