Thursday 13 October 2011

Big Game

Sometimes when I am out shopping in Mumbai, it feels like I am being hunted down like big game. My hearts sinks when I walk into a shop where I am the only customer. AC’s are suddenly whacked up and I can feel the eyes of the hunter/assistant boring into the back of my neck. I am a helpless gazelle, quivering, looking for a way out but it's too late. My personal space is invaded and a painful ‘I know you are there but I am not going to look at you’ dance ensues.
My eyes fall randomly upon an item. The hunter says: “That is a stapler.”  I move on trying to show absolutely no interest in anything at all, which is hard for me because I am a tactile shopper. I want to pick things up but I can’t bear the statement of the bleedin’ obvious that will follow as sure as night follows day: “That is a pencil.” I want to scream out: “For the love of God, I am not blind or stupid, you are making me uncomfortable, leave me alone.” 
I went into the Nike shop and the hunt started immediately with me ducking around rails only for the assistant to appear suddenly like Mr Benn in front of me. I touched a pink running top, only briefly and maybe by accident. I didn’t even like it.  Without drawing breath, she said: “We have that in an XXL.”
“Do you think I am an XXL then?” I asked.
She stared at me, a rabbit in the headlights (ha, the tables have turned) not knowing what answer to give. It was a trick question, I probably am an XXL but I wanted her to say something like: ‘they do tend to come up very small.’ Is that very British of me? I would prefer someone to be polite and lie than to be totally direct and honest.  I wanted to burst out laughing but instead, I turned on my heal and pretended to strop out of the shop.
If I walked into a shop with a placard that read: “I am only browsing, I will call you if I need you” would that be too subtle?  My Indian friend, Rita cannot understand my idiosyncratic Western ways. “This is a shop. That person is a shop assistant, let them do their job!” She is quite right; of course, it’s the Indian way to expect service. I just feel like a shoplifter under surveillance (guilty conscience, eh, Linds?)
Anyway, I’ll just have to get over myself because this Shop Review won't research itself.
And so to the newly-revamped ‘Turqoise’ in Bandra. (Yes, they spell it without the ‘u’)
The last time I tried to visit this store at its previous address; the door of my car was ripped off at the hinges by a rickshaw driver as my friend leapt out into the street.(yes, Hayley, you know who you are!)  This resulted in an ugly punch-up, an attempted bag-snatch and a James Bond-style rickshaw getaway so we never actually made it into the shop. I vowed never to go to back in case I was recognized. So I was quite pleased to hear that they had moved.
I arrived at the shop at about noon. Typically, I was the only person in there and fans and lights were switched on pronto. The sales lady, as per, is millimetres behind me and sure enough, tells me that the pink elephant I am looking at is a pink elephant.
“That is a pink elephant ma’am.” I bite my lip.
She is very attentive but her constant sniffing in the otherwise silent shop is a bit off-putting to the shopper (i.e me)
I was not bowled over by Turqoise, I felt that I’d seen it all before, yatter, yatter, yatter,  Buddha’s, tick, lotus tea lights, tick Crawford Market candles, tick.  It’s all here. But they had some other stuff too which I had never seen before (and hope never to see again!) namely, foot-tall musical instrument-playing welded ants! I am not a fan of the comedy ornament but there must be people out there who are because they are also selling these ‘sexy’ pink elephants reclining nude and looking a bit ‘come-hither’. Whatever floats your boat I suppose!
The following day, I took a trip down south to have a look at the new Design Temple in Colaba. I have been aware of Design Temple for some time as they organized an Art Workshop for kids earlier this year at BMB Gallery and I was well impressed  by the work my son produced with them.  I also bought a couple of the Animania prints they sell through Good Earth.
The shop is small and I want to buy every single item in it. The ‘Animania’ art work on the walls is a vibrant and whimsical take on the Sacred Animals of India. I quote: “It fuses the playful interpretations of seven graphic artists from across the globe with a subject of much gravitas in Indian mythology.” The exquisite mirror on the wall is inspired by the peacock artwork and the tiger rug is the most beautiful home décor item I have even seen. Gimme, gimme! There is even a space in the shop “for thinking.” Yes, even though it is only a small shop, they have provided stools to sit at and stare out of the window if you feel like. Artists? What are they like?
While I was in this neck of the woods, I popped into the new Attic just off Arthur Bunder Road, a little bit down and round the corner from Bungalow Eight (my second favourite shop after Good Earth) If you know and love the Attic in Khar, this is a bigger and brighter version, run by the same lovely sisters. Here we have colour, colour, colour and  lovely shiny things for all you magpies. The hand-made clothes are kooky, bright one-offs, there are shoes and handbags to drool over and bits and pieces for the house which are funky and different (hey, maybe I do like fun ornaments after all!) I spent over an hour in this shop and not once did the assistant ask if she could help me, she just smiled and said: “Just call me if you need me.” Now that is what I call good service!
Turqoise , 2 &3 Sunbeam Apartments, Perry Cross Road, off Carter Road, Bandra (W) Tel: 3240 9827
Design Temple (by appointment only - so they say, but I just turned up unannounced)  No 11, 9 Best Marg, behind the Taj, Colaba Tel: 2282 1001
Attic, 5/5 Grant’s Building. First floor, HNA Azmi Marg, opp Café Basilico, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba Tel: 6565 0444