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Why Online Shopping Is Not Nearly As Good As The Real Thing

20/02/2016 8:31 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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Cropped shot of woman with shopping bags

"Don't show your age, shop online," says the husband. I shoot a surprised look at him. I know I'm ageing, we all are, but so far, no one has told me I show it. I mock a seductive pose and say, "No, I don't show age, I show curves."

I have no vanity about what I believe are a part of the package of being a woman, but ageing is a touchy topic. It compels one to do silly things.

Not that I'm afraid of ageing. If you can't beat it, accept it, is my philosophy. But I don't believe that how or where I shop has anything to do with it. If I'm not a friend of online shopping, it's only because I enjoy it better offline.

The pleasure of shopping, especially for clothes, is in feeling the texture and fall of the fabric, and trying it out to check if it flatters you or not.

I do love browsing online shopping sites with their innumerable wares that look oh-so attractive on the brightly lit screens. Photographed eye-catchingly, you get to see them from various angles, read about their make, material and know the exact dimensions, which perhaps you won't bother to find out when buying in the real world. You don't really know the actual size and number of zips of that tote you bought just last week, do you?

But when it comes to putting it in the cart, as they say, I always hesitate. The whole experience is just not visceral enough.

The pleasure of shopping, especially for clothes, is in feeling the texture and fall of the fabric, and trying it out to check if it flatters you or not.

That's the catch -- my generation has experienced the real pleasure before stumbling on the virtual one. Hence, we will always be in two minds.

There is great delight in waltzing through racks of merchandise in a shop, picking out the ones that catch your fancy, turn this way and that, holding them against yourself, preening in front of the mirror and then deciding whether you want to try them out or not... It's an activity that calls for the right kind of shoes and no shadow of a man tagging you. Men simply don't have the expansive mood or patience shopping calls for. It's one of those arts the men folk have refused to accept as such.

Why do they need so much packaging even for unbreakable things like clothes and nail cutters? You are just generating too much waste.

I could have brushed this aside as just another male vendetta, but in the office where I previously worked, women were divided over their shopping habits and believed it was a mark of their age.

Of course, you can order clothes, try them on and return them if you don't fancy them, the husband tells me. Just imagine the courier boy hanging around the door when you're trying out stuff. I don't even take the husband for shopping because I don't want to be hurried through this meditative process. Moreover, what a wasteful exercise! I know of people who have tried and returned stuff that made its way into their doorstep from across the seas. I'm someone who counts my carbon footprint, and I would not enjoy that.

The one time I ordered vegetables from an online vendor, the amount of plastic that gathered in my kitchen made me depressed. Why do they need so much packaging even for unbreakable things like clothes and nail cutters? The numerous air-filled plastic bags, Styrofoam and bubble wrap.... You are just generating too much waste.

So I have shopped the new way. Perhaps I should buy groceries online, especially when there are great discounts, but what about the friendly neighbourhood vendors who drop off stuff within15 minutes of a call? I'm a believer in 'buy local' as far as possible. But you can't mention sustainability and online shopping in the same breath.

If I don't buy online, it doesn't make me an old hag. It only makes me a discerning and sensitive shopper.

And alas, in the virtual world, it's not always the case of "what you see is what you get". I once saw the garden furniture I had been eyeing online in a showroom of the same portal. The pieces were disappointingly diminutive. It would have been a blunder to buy them without taking a good look at them physically.

Moreover, I can't suddenly own something I have only seen virtually. Even though that's how I came to know my husband. You see, I'm no tech-phobic. I used the latest technology to find a life partner back then.

So if I don't buy online, it doesn't make me an old hag. It only makes me a discerning and sensitive shopper.

In any case, if you have to give up physical shopping, where will you find occasions to flaunt all the stuff you buy online?

By all means, ''aur dikhao", but not virtually!

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