August 15th, 2018

The not so short shirt story. (Part II)9

Then I took another deep-er breath. It appears deep breaths do a world of good to the constitution, physical as well as moral, of people about to plunge into more difficult aspects of life in general, and of a conversation about exchanging a shirt for something else than a shirt in particular. Appearances are deceptive, and so I found out when the deep breath did little for any of my constitutions, but I decided to take the plunge nonetheless.

I cleared my throat though, since I was afraid that my voice would quaver when requesting something that would quite evidently put considerable strain on the patience as well as good manners of the salesperson, both of which qualities he did not seem to have been blessed in abundance with anyway. There was also some evidence to suggest that the salesperson’s job description did not emphasize facilitating people with not-so-sound prior good judgement when such people brought back shirts sans original packing, and expected to go home humming a merry tune with something else than a shirt in their bags. There were factors galore, in other words, that could bring a quiver to one’s voice when stating one’s objective behind bringing the shirt back – and that too, mind you, without the original packing, and a clearing of one’s throat was hence well warranted.

After the throat had been sufficiently cleared, it occurred to me that instead of asking the salesperson’s permission to opt for another article of attire, one could perhaps adopt a not so straight forward course of action. It occurred to me rather suddenly that having a paunch in the dimensions I was blessed with had some inherent advantages, and chief amongst those advanatges was the fact that there were few articles of clothing that could look becoming when wrapped around the sheer girth of my equator – or what would have qualified to be my equator were I technically a circle. In all fairness I was guilty of not having paid attention to these advantages prior to that day. It was to be assumed that the salesperson would find it relatively less offensive were one to try out all the available shirts at the store with a vangeance and so arrive at the conclusion that none of the store’s products seemed to have been stitched with the sole purpose of flattering one into thinking that one could look good in an article of PnC clothing.

I proceeded with this plan of action, and asked to be shown a few shirts for size. The salesperson feigned surprise at my apparent ignorance and told me quite politely how very unlikely it was for the standard shirt sizes to have changed ever since I had last bought a shirt for myself. “Surely”, he seemed to be saying, “you have not gained all of that ‘prosperity’ overnight, have you now? Do not know what shirt size you are! Are you telling me this is the first time you are buying a shirt for yourself, all by yourself?” This is where I found out that I was dealing not with a novice but a professional, a finding that underlined to me the perils of under-estimating the enemy, and caused me to issue a harsh-worded rebuke to self silently.

My plan seemed to be headed for destruction unless I made a quick recovery, and make one I did – albiet unbeknownst to myself. The details are a bit hazy, but what I have surmised is that while I was issuing those silent rebukes to self, my facial expressions must have been oscillating between those of one issuing rebukes and those of one at the recieving end of such rebukes – and seeing that must have made a profound impression on the salesman. An impression that was not to last for very long, but did the job in the present quite well. The salesman proceeded to bring me a few shirts to try for size.

In the try room, a trial of a different kind presented itself to me. Suffice it is to say that there crept in another factor into the equation, which made it imperative for a new strategy to be devised and adopted at the earliest. As for the trial, allow me to leave a hint or two for the perceptive reader: It is normal practice at most stores to have a few shirts lounging about for people who are buying a shirt for the first time and need to see what size fits them better than others, or looks less inappropriate on them than others. Presumably the store has a strategy to tackle the challenge presented by people who are not bestowed with a necessary-to-buy-a-shirt-imaginative mind, people who know what size fits them well, but cannot for the life of them decide, without trying a shirt on and looking at themselves in the mirror from all directions, whether or not it might look as good on them as a shirt must for them to make a buying decision. One steers clear of unnecessary presumptions though, and leaves the store’s business to those who make it their business in the most literal sense. Whether or not a strategy is in place to tackle the afore-mentioned challenge, a store must have a few shirts in different sizes readily available so the less priveleged can make a more informed decision when they come in to buy a shirt for the first time and without the slightest indication of what size might suit them best.

The shirts deployed for such duty are quite often in colors that in a shirt one might refrain from classifying as pleasing to the eye, and in patterns that one can hardly be faulted for assuming were not the intended patterns when the shirts were being made. As long, however, as one does not intend buying those shirts and wearing them to the prestigious events in one’s life, and more importantly, as long as one is only expected to guage an idea about the right size so that one can invest in a shirt made in a completely different color and one that sports a perfectly non-hedious pattern, one does not mind donning such a shirt for a few seconds. The trouble, however, is that when a shirt has been worn by a few hundred people over the course of the past few days, it is likely to be equipped well enough to invade one’s nostrils from a mile..

When the salesman had initially brought me the hedious yellow shirt, I had attributed the revulsion in my senses more to the color of the shirt than anything else, but when the familiar revulsion returned upon being presented the blue shirt with the pink patterns in it, I knew it had to be more than just color. I also knew at that very moment that I had not the stomach to try on the other four possible sizes, so I decided to throw caution to the wind, and prepared to put my tackling hands around the salesman’s horns.

I took another deep breath, partly to expunge the invading forces from my system, and partly to strengthen my resolve to assert my right to buying a different article of clothing instead of the shirt.


The not so short shirt story. (Part 1)4

I had a few shirts to return. One of them, I had bought from this well-known store that is on a “75% sale” all year round. The store thrives on volume-business deriving its margins from economies of scale, and has outlets dotting the entire map of the UAE. One could connect these dots in one’s freetime and get an intricate pattern that would qualify for some abstract, futuristic master-peice drawn from joining seemingly random dots. I had bought the shirt a day earlier, and needed to return it, but since there is a no-return policy pretty much everywhere in the UAE, my second best option was to exchange the shirt for something else that cost no less than AED 130.

So, accompanied by another milder mannered fellow blogger, I sauntered into the store – lets call it ‘pick and carry’ or PnC for convenience sake, and engaged one of the twenty odd salespeople in what I had intended to be a lively conversation. I began by appraising him of the predicament we were in, he and I: I had a shirt I had bought the day before, but did not see it finding a long-term abode in the intended wardrobe, and he needed to find me an article of clothing that the wardrobe and I would be more accomodating towards. To say that he did not seem entirely pleased with the said predicament would amount to grossly understating the unfriendliness of the gentleman’s demeanour, and also to an unfair undermining of the effort that he seemed to be putting in not concealing his utter disapproval of my lack of prior good judgement.

The knicq smile is not known to vanish in a haste, and nor did it do so on this particular occasion. That a smile was most unwelcome under the circumstances was a fact not entirely lost on me, but I was in good company – and one alludes here to the presence of a certain blogger on the scene, a blogger who whatever else it is he does to make a living does not work as an unsmiling salesperson at a well-known store that is on a “75% sale” all year round – and I refused to part with the smile however unwelcome it was in that store. We must all do our duty in thwarting the evil designs of these ridculously large stores, and resist the unsmiling cultures they are trying to force upon us through their over-worked and under-paid minions otherwise known as floor sales-reps. But, to call a spade a spade, the knicq smile was having a most difficult time resisting the charge of the frown lines as the conversation progressed.

One is not confident of one’s ability to maintain the integrity of a dialogue when reproducing it from sheer memory, and will hence refrain from quoting the dialogue, but one does recall that the conversation started with a clear stating of the afore-mentioned predicament. To this the salesperson, after inspecting in great detail the contents of the PnC bag which I had brought with me, responded with a query pertaining to the whereabouts of the original packing, which was sadly missing from the bag – the bag in which the subject of the whole exchange, verbal as well as non-verbal, lay awaiting its fate. Aware of the NLP pitfalls of introducing red words early in such a discussion, one steered away from plainly admitting that such packing had by now been recycled into more meaningful commodities by the city municipal corporation, and diverted the salesperson’s attention instead to the presence of the original purchase receipt, often billed by the competent legal authorities who look into such matters as the critical, crucial and generally the most important document in these buyer/seller disputes.

If one had hoped, however, that the salesperson were a rookie and gullible enough to fall for such diversion tactics, one was sadly mistaken. The salesperson had not only the temper of a matador bull, but the focus of a charging bull too. Perhaps some prudent readers might disagree here, and attribute the apparent focus of the bull to its inability to make sudden and unplanned diversions in its chosen course of charge, and to such readers I must admit that I am most taken and impressed with their ability to decipher the hidden truth in cliched similis and metaphors. So, the salesperson brushed aside my feeble attempts at diverging his focus, and I had little option but to come clean and admit that the packing material had been properly done away with and disposed of in the best and most environmental-friendly manner possible i.e. it had been consigned to the trashcan, from where it was sure to be picked up by the municipal authorities, who it must be said are the best and most resourceful people when it comes to disposing the original packing of shirts that cannot find space in one’s wardrobe and must be returned – albiet without the said packing.

Once again, if one had intended to strike an amicable note with the salesperson by exhibiting one’s concern for the environment and highlighting one’s recent contribution to conserving the earth’s environment, one had another thing coming. The salesperson upon being told of the possible whereabouts of the original packing of the shirt, and hence the absence of even the remotest chance of same being brought to the store at a future date – distant or not, went into a brooding mood. He completed with remarkable alacrity the formalities of scratching his head, shaking it sideways to express once again his disapproval of what he clearly seemed to find lacking in my prior good judgement faculties, and uttering the appropriate ‘hmms’ and ‘ahems’; and then proceeded to narrate our predicament to his superior.

He returned finally bearing the cheery news that the shirt could indeed be accepted back, provided I had the original receipt, which is where one began to develop a deep awe and respect for the competent legal authoriies who handle these matters. I fished the receipt out and handed it to him, and after throwing a cursory glance at it, he returned it to me, and invited me to choose another shirt.

This is where the matters really began becoming interesting, because up untl that moment I had purposefully refrained from disclosing to him that I had had an overnight change of heart about what article of my attire I was in more dire need of. If I had to return that shirt, which I had originally purchased as a gift for someone else, I did not think I was going to get myself a shirt, because… well… I have enough shirts as it is.

I prepared to drop this bombshell on the poor unsuspecting salesperson. It broke my heart to look into his eyes, and find them scanning the racks stacked with shirts, while I had my unbroken heart set upon buying a pair of trousers.

I took a deep breath…


Simple point(s).6

Here’s the thing about headaches. They hurt. That is the one thing about them headaches I am not partiularly crazy about. That is saying a lot, since Saab will tell you, I am crazy about everything, and most people I am blessed with; about some others I am crazier, but then they are worth being crazier about. It is all besides the point of course, since it is my recurring headaches I intend making a point about, and the point is simple: They hurt, and that is the one thing about them I am not crazy about. The latter part of the former statement must sound like a point in itself, and it is one too, but it is not the simple point I intend making. The simple point I do intend making is about the hurtful nature of headaches, and everything else, whether or not it qualifies to be a point in itself, is but an extension of the simple point.

Here’s the thing about simple points though. They are simple – too simple, and hence it is very difficult for your average 40 watt blogger to build a meaningful post around a single simple point. Multiple simple points are a lucrative prospect but also carry the risk of complexity; and when you get simplicity mixed up with complexity all you get is an ideal JB post, since it is JB who finds simplicity in complexity and complexity in simplicity. What, one might be excused for wondering, is wrong in a post becoming an ideal JB post? One is a fool. Anything which even borders on an ideal JB anything is ambitious, unreal, hypothetical, and hence qualifies to be classified as nothing. Now, the thing about Jalali Baba is here – he has exacting standards, much too exacting to be practical and real. Only nothing can come close to be anything remotely like something that would meet Jalali Baba’s definition of ideal.

Ironically, Jalali Baba fails his own standards – in his choice of disciples and friends for one thing; which is a pity becuase it means Jalali Baba is more than just nothing. Given as intelligent as he is, it is quite likely though that he chooses bad people for friends – or at least one bad person for a friend – just so he qualifies to be more than nothing. I feel exploited!

People should refrain from choosing me as a friend just because I qualify to be a bad choice, and making that bad choice helps them qualify to be more than nothing because making a bad choice means they are not JB-ideal, and only nothing is JB-ideal.

Oh, and yes – my head hurts!

Watts ‘n flashes.5

I have not been able to think of any topics to write about in a long long time. At times like these I seek refuge in the Jalali Baba stories. He must hate me for this blatant exploitation of his eccenticities to keep this blog going , but then he hates me for so many other things that one more reason will scarcely alter the equation much. The equation, I am afraid, is hardly an equation. It probably reads “n reasons to hate = knicq”, where ‘n’ is not a finite number. Knicq on the other hand is mortal, and a physical entity governed by the laws of physics, biology, chemistry, economics, country of residence, Shariah, and those of the unknown; and hence finite in every sense of the word. An equation that pits a finite entity against an infinite value can hardly be called an equation. If at all it is an equation, it is not one that may be called fair, and in being so – unfair that is – it emulates and replicates life itself, proverbially and idiomatically speaking.

I used to be able to string together fragments of a few thoughts and make myself a coherent post. Then, I began to flatter myself. Somewhere along the road, and perhaps thanks to my blog-hopping of days gone by, I came to consider that I was capable of emulating some of the brilliant writing I had come across – writing which is characterized by that ‘flashes’ kind of feel, writing which reads like the public appearance of a glamour star. Have you seen one of those? The peculiar thing about those appearances is not the appearance itself but a hundred cameras flashing at the same time. Few would disagree that a ridiculously dressed guy, or semi-dressed woman stepping out of a car is hardly a mega-event until the cameras go flash, flash, flash!

Some people are able to write like that. Their prose reads like a hundred cameras going flash, flash, flash! I do not know if they are forced to write like that because their thought process runs at a speed much faster their fingers can ever type at, or because they set out to write their peices in little more than headlines. Someone like me, whose writing is more like the dim and boring light of a 40 watt bulb, cannot be blamed for getting very impressed with that flash flash flash kind of writing. Someone like me, whose writing is like the dim and boring light of a 40 watt bulb, should also never attempt to go flash, flash, flash. The trouble with 40 watt bulbs trying to go flash flash flash is that they hardly get to the third flash – more often than not, they go flash, ahem, flush, …er… phat!

Granted, there’s only so much of a hundred cameras going 3F that one can take in a day; there is little chance of getting anything done in the flashing light of cameras – be it a hundred cameras or in multiples of hundred. There is that exhilerating feeling that must come from being exposed to the bright and random flashes of a hundred cameras, but take exhileration too far and you have substance abuse on your hands. On the other hand, the light of a 40 watt bulb is good only to create a spooky effect in a perfectly not-spooky-at-all room; either that or you need the 40 watt light when you have had one red bull too many.

For writing that is easy on the eyes, it must take after the light of the good old 100 watt bulb. Ask any 40 watt bulb, and it will tell you it has tried to upgrade and illuminate its surroundings like the more illuminous 100 watt bulbs – pun not intended, but has sadly failed. So when I found that if I tried the flash, flash, flash writing one time too many, I would go kaput, I tried to upgrade and I attempted to write in that interesting manner which seems to come naturally to people like A, Yazzo, Maranello and Owlie (and so many wonderful other writers) – needless to say the 100 watt post is not coming through.

Knicqland is 40 watts, but knicq could tell you about this one time when writing seemed easy, but telling is not good. See that was knicq trying to go flash, flash, flash and ending up with flaphat!

- which could be a new kind of a hat, but who wears a hat these days?

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