Confessions of a Discount Addict


Confessions of a Discount Addict

Illustration: Juergen Dsouza/ Arré

India’s most secular festival, the festival of discounts, is here and you can buy everything cheap – from an auto with a driver to underpants for your hands. Everything except “maa baap ka pyaar”, as my mother says.

As I type this, e-commerce websites are mopping up the profits of this week’s sales and planning an offsite to Ibiza. They will be back with renewed determination and another bright idea of yet another … you got it… SALE!

Interns aka minions sans the cuteness of Kevin, Stuart, and Bob will then make themselves useful by preparing pointless PowerPoint presentations with marketing plans for the next sale. “How about we spam the fuck out of everyone? I don’t mean just emails and newspapers; I mean roads, trains, pillars, TVs, urinals, satellites, comets, and Jupiter’s moon Titan where life may exist in the near future. What do you say, sir?”

Obviously sir, still hung over from the Ibiza trip, will like the idea very much and implement it without giving it much thought and wonder boozily what legitimate reason for a sale they can think of after that. Because SALE is the only thing in India to which boys and girls can simultaneously masturbate, without touching each other or themselves. And since it does not involve sex before marriage it is of course considered sanskari.

Now as someone who consumes the internet for 16 hours a day, it isn’t humanly possible to get through a day without a sale ad popping up on the screen. Being a true Indian and by that I mean a sucker for discounts, I found myself tumbling down the rollback rabbit hole.

I didn’t want to buy anything expensive because I am pathetically broke, so I was just looking around for some no-show socks. No-show socks are the latest hipster trend, second only to the tea infuser. As the name suggests, these socks are so tiny that they hide inside your shoes and if your feet are large, they curl up around your toes to give you a false sense of satisfaction of wearing socks without actually wearing them. (Hipster things are life’s enduring mysteries.)

Hoarding, you’ve been taught since you believed floaters with socks were cool, is what will save you.

But the first law of sale came in the way of my quest of turning hipster. The first law of sale states that the stuff that you want to buy will never be available at a discount. This law is universal and applicable to both online and offline stores. So hipster socks weren’t on sale but what caught my eye was a set of 12 pairs of full-length socks, which appeared on my screen as a recommendation. The price of this “must-have” set of socks was slashed from a gigantic 560 bucks to a mere 540. Twenty fucking rupees. With ₹20 you can buy a cigarette and get seven Pulse candies free – one stick of cancer and seven tablets of cancer. Free. Free. Free. I began to wonder about the guy who’d find these 12 pairs of socks irresistible and would get a boner at the idea of a whooping discount of ₹20.

But this guy is not alone. Many of you have probably opened another tab already and are searching for these discounted socks, which you will leave behind in your will. And while you look for the socks, you will most likely stumble upon a dinner set that comes with a big bowl, in which the sun can fit, and a small one, which will make even a drop of semen overflow. And even though you have never hosted a dinner serving the sun and semen in bowls, and you don’t plan to do so in the future, you will buy it. You will also pick up a mug with a random quote and furry wallet with the vague idea of gifting it to some cousin you hate at his wedding a few years down the lane. And then to make amends to your wanton materialism, you will feed your soul Chetan Bhagat’s One Indian Girl at 50 bucks a pop. You will buy it even though you have never read a Chetan Bhagat book without getting a seizure.

But just as you are about to shut the window, you will take a quick peek at the other big items on sale – on the off-chance that you may get your shopping basket worth ₹250 for ₹230. Giving up on that 20-buck discount could mean regretting all your life’s decisions. Sure, you took up a low-paying media job after miserably dragging your feet through engineering college, but this decision needs a deeper analysis and more research than your career.

When finally the stuff arrives you will you be flummoxed at your life choices. You will then shove the purchases in the store room, which is already overflowing with ragged cotton mattresses, old pillows, older clothes, holed blankets, dented utensils, out-of-style shoes, and grandma’s ashes… all because you are born with the genetic strain of hoarding. Hoarding, you’ve been taught since you believed floaters with socks were cool, is what will save you. Not charity. Not goodness. Not even God. That cockroach-infested storeroom in all our houses is the temple of greed at which we worship.

Eddie Vedder, who wrote the music for Into The Wild, the story that inspired a generation to “give stuff up” has probably never encountered the material force that is the discount season in India, but when he wrote, “We have a greed to which we have agreed”, I’m pretty sure he was talking about us.