Durga Puja shopping was the highlight of our clothing-calendar when we were young. One new dress for birthdays, one for Poila Baisakh (Bengali New Year), but Durga Puja (the biggest religious/social/cultural event for Bengalis) meant many, many new clothes, gifted by various uncles, aunts and grandparents.
But the catch was, you often got stuck with stuff that you wore only once (in front of the said uncle/aunt/grandparent, so as to soothe his/her sensibilities). As we entered our teens, we became more style-conscious and praise from the said uncle/aunt/grandparent, “Baah, ki sundar manieyechhe tokey” (How nicely the outfit is suiting you!), was no longer enough.
Clothes had to be trendy, peer-friendly and, most importantly, self-chosen. Which is why we (my cousin-cum-close-friend J and I) decided to take matters into our own hands when we were all of fifteen and decided to ask for cash gifts from our relations for the Durga Puja shopping.
Armed with our stash of cash and loads of attitude, we intrepidly boarded the red L-20 bus which took us from suburban Barrackpore straight to New Market, the shopper’s paradise in the heart of urban Kolkata.
Tirelessly roaming the alleys and bylanes (giving the bigger shops a miss), searching for the trendiest and tiniest (it was our mini-skirt phase) export-rejects in the hole-in-the corner shops, powered by exhilaration and egg-rolls (chicken-roll for J, who is allergic to eggs), we spent a very happy afternoon snapping up clothes at clothes-pin-prices. I remember buying a denim slit-skirt for Rs. 40, rainbow peep-toes for Rs 35, and a bateau-neck, embroidered top for Rs. 10! Of course, it helped that we were both reed-thin, as teenagers are wont to be.
Laden with bags of merchandise and merriment (I had ten white plastic bags, one for each finger), we returned home, totally giddy with shopaholism.
It was a wonderful Puja, parading our new outfits to the admiration of the local guys and the envy of our gal-pals!
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST SHOPAHOLIC EXPERIENCE?