So, the last weekend, I went grocery shopping with my mother.
It wasn’t something I liked to do, since my mother has a tendency to spend too long at boring places.
Yet, I decided I’ll accompany her, especially since my father was too busy, and my mother wanted to go to an Indian shop, which was quite a few kilometres away from my house.
Then came the first obstacle. My father’s usual driver was on leave, so the spare driver from my father’s office, who was new to the city was to drive the car.
He didn’t know where he was going, yet he kept on driving to God-knows where, and after an hour-long trip around the city and a disastrous attempt to ask the way, we called my dad who promptly replied that he had no idea where the shop even was.
Finally, we called up the usual driver, who was on leave, and he directed us to our desired location.
If I thought that the trials of the day were over, I was hopelessly mistaken.
On entering the shop, I noticed that it was fully packed with other Indians, also out for shopping on a weekend. I told my mum that I’ll wait near the counter while she finished her shopping.
But, my mum told me firmly, that I was going to help her out with the shopping, and I agreed quickly and kept walking right into the heart of the crowd, swallowing my crowd-o-phobia.
No! I did not do that just to please my mum. It was because I had spotted someone whom I’d wanted to avoid, my math teacher, especially after my lousy math marks in the last test.
We came across a fairly deserted aisle, which contained shampoos and soaps and other such things.
While my mum was browsing through the varieties of shampoos, and I was staring into space, I noticed someone appearing at the other end of the aisle.
It was the very person I wanted to avoid.
“I’ll be back in a few seconds”, I told my mum.
“Stay right here”, she said.
“I still have lots of things more to take.”
“We’ll go to the next aisle and that we’ll come back to this aisle a few seconds later.”
My mum just stared at me curiously.
By then, my teacher was getting more closer, but she didn’t seem to have spotted me yet.
It was then, that I was struck with a bright idea, which on retrospection, now seems like a rather idiotic one.
I whipped out my dupatta (scarf) from around my neck and tied it around my head and over my face like a Muslim niqab (face veil). I presumed that, with it being the Middle East, I wouldn’t stand out much. I stood there, pretending to closely examine a bar of soap and hoped my teacher would walk safely past me.
That’s exactly what didn’t happen.
My teacher noticed my mother instead. They didn’t know each other, but I had underestimated the limits two Indian women of around the same age could go up to.
My teacher approached my mother and said,”Excuse me, but you look rather familiar. Have we met before?”
“No. I don’t think so.”, my mother paused, and then asked,”Are you by any chance from Tamil Nadu?”
“Yes. I am.”
“Did you live in Chennai?
“Oh no. I’ve never been to Chennai. But, I realised why you look familiar. You look a bit like a girl in my class.”
Damn! I’d forgotten how alike my mum and I looked.
I was almost a carbon copy of my mum, except that I had a chubbier, rounder face. And that my mum was far more pretty, with her high cheekbones and all.
“Are you a teacher?”, asked my mum.
“Yes. In the Indian school. What do you do?”
“I’m an economist. What subject do you teach?”
“Math. In the 12th grade.”
Holy fudge. This just wasn’t happening!
“Really? My daughter is in the 12th grade math class. I think you might know her. She was here now. Where did she-“, my mum trailed off, on account of spotting me.
“Anu! Why are you wear-”
I interrupted her, by saying, “Amma, allergy, you know right”, hoping she’ll take the hint.
But, she didn’t.
“Allergy? What allergy?”, she asked oblivious to my frantic eye-signalling.
At that exact time, the scarf unravelled and fell off my face, on account of me being a novice in the art of veil-wearing.
“Anu! Just as I thought. You look like your mother, you know.”, exclaimed my teacher.
And there ensued a rather lengthy discussion between my mother and teacher which ended with them exchanging phone numbers and inviting each other to their respective houses.
So, one more reason added to the rather lengthy list of why I dislike going shopping.