Shopping Woes

Written By

Ushasi Sen Basu

Shopping Woes Loading

I grew up in a middle-class household where asking your parents to buy things for you was a sign of moral decrepitude. I also had an elder sister, and two older female cousins who were constant sources of cast-off clothes, so I didn’t need to shop much, but that didn’t stop me from having shopping woes.

College went by similarly. I would occasionally buy clothes from discount sales that all us impoverished college students kept an eye out for; and wore them with great success (though I say so myself). When you’re thin and eighteen and having the time of your life; you could wear a gunny sack and still look fabulous.

When I began to earn enough to think about improving my wardrobe — I discovered that I didn’t like shopping much.

By now I wasn’t svelte and seventeen anymore. I was a much more rotund 25.

Shopping was like paying to be insulted. Shop attendants (easily the most tactless people in the world, after relatives) would look me up and down with a look of distaste and say something dismissive like: “We don’t have anything in your size”. I hasten to mention here that I am a Medium or Large, depending on the brand. So, definitely in the “Oh sh**, Ushasi, you need to lose a ton of weight to look good in those pants…or anything!” but not the “Holy c**p, you’ll have to buy tickets for two seats on the flight” bracket.

I would then hurry through the store — alone and miserable, picking up prospective items of clothing to be tried on; averting my eyes from the haughty “What? That fat woman’s still here?” looks the attendants gave me. The trial room would be another ordeal; with the bright overhead lights and mirrors on all sides; the struggling to get jeans buttoned. Harrowing, most harrowing.

But of course, there would always be SOMETHING in my size. Although, in my hurry and embarrassment, I would’ve only found it in a shade of luminescent green with “i am a pretty girl” emblazoned down the length of one leg in purple. The assistants would finally crack a smile, like I had redeemed myself in their eyes by earning them a commission without a finger lifted or a polite word in exchange.

Point proven, I would sail out with a purchase which I knew I would never ever wear, unless at a fancy dress party.

At the time, I still looked upon online shopping dubiously. Little did I know that all my aggravation could have been avoided had I just been more “with it”. No sniffy, offensive assistants; no lines to the torture chambers, and none for the billing counters either. Win, win, WIN.

 I fell upon the online option belatedly, but gratefully. I didn’t see the inside of a shop until I finally started accompanying my husband on his shopping jaunts. This is a man who truly loves to shop. He cheerfully browses through racks of women’s kurtas to find just the right one; after I’ve already been through them in my hurried, embarrassed, wretched style.

He’ll wait patiently while I go through my self-flagellation process in the trial room and declare decisively when one of the items of clothing is a winner. He balances out all my shopping negativity with his air of doing something truly fun. I don’t really understand it, and sometimes paying for these things still feels like I’m ripping an arm out at the joint — but his company and good humour makes the process nearly painless.

On good days, when the trial room lights are low, shop assistants are kind, my husband and little girl play happily among the clothes racks, and all the clothes I try on fit me like a glove in the right places; I begin to understand (as the little dopamine bubbles burst in my brain) what this retail therapy is all about.

On other days; I sit down in my PJs at my laptop and shop online for a spot of simple and stress-free shopping.




Ushasi Sen Basu, 37, lives in Bangalore and is the erstwhile Editor-in-Chief of She published her debut contemporary literary fiction novel, 'Kathputli’ in early 2017, in both Kindle and paperback formats. Ushasi has been a professional writer and editor for over a decade. She also has an unpopular blog called The Crib that pokes fun at everything, including herself. Ushasi (aka Shashi, "U" and 'You-Over-There') loves literature and music, and dances like nobody’s watching. She is the mother of a five-year-old girl, who is the joy of her life and grudging guinea pig for many of her parenting experiments.

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