My encounters with French-2 – where I got ‘Oui’-fied!

I was kinda racking my brains about what best to buy for my little nephew, niece and cousin (yeah when you have the (mis)fortune of being the first-born in the family on the paternal and maternal sides, you end up having cousins who’re as old (young) as your nephews/ nieces!) . Yeah, so I wanted to buy something nice for the li’l ones, at the same time I didn’t want to splurge on something which they would soon outgrow and would thus get wasted. So I thought I’d buy some stuff which could be really useful (atleast for a year or two) and which we wouldn’t normally spend on, back home. Well, this was at the back of mind all the time I went into any shop here.

So my eyes scoured for this something when I was at one of the touristy places last weekend and was taking a walk around the neighbourhood – there were a lot of small shops with ‘SALE’ written across them and that made me happy! 😀 I found one shop which seemed to have some stuff for the infants and kids, I went in to take a look. It was a sale alright – there were heaps of all kinds of clothes, jackets and other wearables and people were pulling at it, obviously wanting what someone else had in hand. I spotted these cute little winter jackets – complete with a hood, mittens for hands and feet and I thought – this is perfect! I’ll buy three of these and my gift’s ready! Little did I realize, it wasn’t going to be as simple as that.

Firstly, it really was a heap and there was no separate heap for the jackets. And since it was for kids, I had to check the sizes before choosing them – the tiny little tag which says – 6 months, 9 months, 12 months etc. and which is not very easy to spot. Now two of these kids are nearly a year old and the girlie is 6 months. Apart from the different sizes, I had to be careful about the colours I chose – I couldn’t end up with pretty pinks for the boys and dull browns for the girl! So my task became all the more complicated. Well, let’s say, after 45 minutes of non-stop scouring and pulling out tiny hands and legs (of clothes, of course!), I ended up with 3 jackets – I partly lost patience after that and partly decided – a gift is a gift, what they do with it later is surely left to the parents!

So then, with my arms loaded with these three heavy jackets, I walked deeper into the store between aisles filled with clothes of all kinds – for women mainly. That’s when I realized how big the shop actually was and how many people it held! I picked my way amongst them and finally managed to reach the billing counter. A woman of African origin, said ‘Oui‘ with a question-mark writ all over her face. I pointed to my armload and pointed to her machine and said bill. She again said ‘Oui‘ and pointed towards something behind my back. I turned my head and saw – a serpentine queue whose end seemed to be lost somewhere in the other corner of the store – all women waiting with basket-loads of clothes they’d bought to be billed on that Saturday afternoon! They were snaking up to the counter in a round-about fashion, which I’d failed to notice. I caught my jaw from hitting the ground and quickly went past atleast thirty ladies to stand in the queue.

And then started the ordeal of waiting.  It being a ladies queue there were a few cat-fights here and there, about people forming invalid sub-queues in the wrong directions – but nothing which wasn’t settled amicably in a few minutes. As I stood between that throng of French women who were chattering away in a language which I couldn’t remotely understand, I felt lost! I did contemplate leaving behind the jackets and coming away, but then thought the better of it – having invested nearly an hour of my time, I wanted to buy it that day. Standing in that queue I realized why men tend to get annoyed when they shop with us. Those ladies, even as they stood waiting, wouldn’t let a piece of cloth alone – they checked each and every piece of clothing in every counter of every aisle – irrespective of the colour or size or pattern or anything. They wanted to take it in their hands and see it for themselves! There were times when I wanted to scream – aunty! please move on! I want to get these 3 damn things billed and get away, can you please let me go?! But I did nothing of the sort, you don’t go to a foreign country and voice your strong opinion amongst a group of people whose language you don’t understand! I grit my teeth and counted sheep as the line woefully slowly moved on. It was a good half hour before my turn came, I paid the cash and rushed out.

Phew! It really had been years since I’d shopped for anything like this by standing in such a long queue! For all the trouble I took, those babies better coo and be nice about their jackets! 😉


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