Living in Consumerist America!

Most mornings I am woken up to emails from GAP, forever 21, Victoria’s Secret that scream, “60% off only today ONLY FOR YOU!!!” They really know how to make me feel special. I get all excited until H tells me he’s got the same emails. But these emails got me thinking of how marketing works and how easy it is lure even reluctant shoppers like myself.

Anyone who knows me will know that I hate shopping. I would rather do 50 burpees than go shopping (okay maybe that’s an exaggeration but I despise burpees and shopping equally.) But even for someone like me, shopping in the US is so much fun. Firstly because there is ALWAYS a sale – Christmas, Thanksgiving, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Fathers Day, etc. I feel like retail here caters to anyone at any time- ” it’s National Dog Day, lets give the doggies a discount on the t shirts that they’ll really hate wearing but their owners will love”. Secondly, for $50 I can get atleast 5 pieces of clothing. And if you’re waiting long enough in the checkout line that is a tiny store by itself with little rows of knick knacks, you’ll end up buying a loofah, a nail file that you’ll never use since you bite your nails and some cute panda socks all for $5!

H and his brother are compulsive shoppers. On our shoe rack at home, I only have one row of shoes while theirs occupy the remaining 6. If there is a sale, they feel like they have to buy something whether they like it or not. During the Labor Day sale, I dragged H to Forever 21 but it was such a mess of clothes strewn everywhere, I didn’t even want to window shop. But H spotted a random top for $3 that I didn’t even like but he said I should buy it simply because it was cheap. Never mind that I didn’t want, like or need it! H actually wants to plan our India trip this year around Black Friday to make sure he doesn’t miss on his “exclusive” deals!! He went nuts on his first Black Friday shopping experience last year!  So now my deal is if you want to buy something, you have to donate one piece of the same thing.

When we first moved here, I made the mistake of going to a grocery store without a grocery list and for the first few months we would spend atleast $200 on every visit. ‘Oooooh, 35 calorie ice cream!”, “ooooh chocolate covered raisins!” Then there’s the endless aisles of cereal choices. I’m glad I barely eat sugar these days because some of those cereals are clumps of colored sugar masquerading as food!! I’m always amused by how much time I have to spend looking for Greek yogurt or milk. There’s 1%, 2%, Vitamin D, flavored, low fat, unsweetened, sweetened vanilla, etc. In India, the milkman would come with a bucket of milk and we just put a big vessel in front of him. I’m sure he would laugh if I asked him if it was low fat!
What gives me most joy is buying fresh fruits and veggies at a store. Well, that’s until I realize how perfect they are. And we all know how nothing is perfect. So how is each strawberry the same shade of red, how is each banana the same size and shaped like those fruit bowl paintings?  All this mass produced stuff for the big chain retailers is GMO, not organic even if they claim to be and quite tasteless to be honest. I once left two oranges on our table for 4-6 weeks and it didn’t spoil!! But we’ve discovered our local farmer’s market that has the most amazing fruits and veggies and local produce and it is a delight to cook with that stuff. Makes me think of India and how we should all go back to shopping at our local kirana stores and not the Ratnadeeps and Mores.

It’s funny how the Indian stores here in the US are replicas of the stores back in India. While the American stores are color coded, arranged by category and you know exactly where the dairy is, where frozen food is,etc, in the Indian store, you can go around in circles and still not find what you want. Plus some stuff has fungus, some stuff is past the expiry date, packets are strewn all over the place and there is always “pooja samaan” available for the Indians who never did any poojas back home.
But that’s the thing about living in the US. While we may pay exorbitant amounts on rent and a car, cost of food and clothing is so affordable to everyone. I buy t shirts for $2 which is about Rs 120. I would call that too cheap in India and criticize the quality. Not to mention, for some reason, jeans fit me better here than back in India!

Ooooh I just got an email from Shoedazzle “Buy one Get one free”. Winter is coming and I need some Boots! It’s not a want, it’s a need, of course!

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