Saturday, 25 June 2011

On moving slowly and buying clothes

I tend to have two speeds: stationary and manic. It's been my general approach to life to spend half of it bumming around and half of it being the proverbial blue-arsed fly, and while it might not be conducive to controlling stress levels, it's generally got me through.

Well, I'm going to learn how to do things differently. It's increasingly clear that until the weather cools down a bit my speed setting is going to be stuck on slow. Walking down the street of necessity becomes a gentle amble, and I still get to my destination dripping. Lists of tasks that need to be done are stripped down to the most basic priorities, because the running-around-doing-30-things-in-a-day trick just isn't going to work here.

On the one hand this is a bit frustrating. Suddenly I have to plan properly, because last minute whirlwinds of activity are out of the question. On the other hand, having to move at a slow pace does a funny thing to you: it kind of makes things seem less urgent, and so less stress-inducing. Maybe I will come back in a few years doing everything on Indian time (in which case God help you if we have an appointment).

Anyway, today took me (eventually) to SouthEx to check out those clothing stores. I didn't pack very cleverly - I have tons of shirts but only a few pairs of trousers, the rest being en route and due to arrive some time in August - and I was in desperate need of a couple of new suits.

I always find buying clothes overseas interesting, because it says a lot about the local culture. In Seoul it was impossible to get the shop assistants to stop shoving items of clothing under your nose every five seconds when you were trying to have a quiet browse, which resulted in me walking out more often than not. In Holland it was sometimes hard to get them to acknowledge your existence at all.

In Delhi, a small gaggle of them appear as soon as you enter the shop and then follow you doggedly around, rarely making any sound and only occasionally showing any interest in the clothes on display. Once in a while one will offer commentary on some item you have picked up, such as "this is trousers". Eventually when you have decided to buy something they will spring into action, usually consisting of one of them taking the item from you and giving it to another of them, while another goes and gets a bag and gives it to another, and a fifth runs to the checkout to tell a sixth how much it is...you get the idea.

I exaggerate slightly. The truth is that the service is rather good, if delivered by three times more people than necessary. And in most of the higher end places a senior bod will appear, usually with perfect English, who will provide just the right mixture of helpfulness, expertise and reticence to make the whole experience quite pleasurable. And everyone is so damn nice it's quite impossible to get annoyed even when they are being useless.

Plus they don't get annoyed about ridiculously sweaty westerners trying on their nice clean suits, for which I could only be extremely grateful.

1 comment:

jamieonline said...

Customer service? How nice. Enjoy it. I was out in Den Haag today, but alas Customer Service was not anywhere to be seen.....