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     Volume 4 Issue 11 | September 3 , 2004 |

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Straight Talk

Retail Therapy

Nadia Kabir Barb

Shopping?" I groaned. "Do I have to?" My husband looked at me in the same way he does when trying to explain something simple to one of the children but not quite getting through. "She would be over the moon if you did take her". We were in fact talking about our eldest daughter--a self proclaimed shopaholic! This was even more surprising coming from someone whose parents break out in a cold sweat at the thought of trawling through the over crowded shops. "We'll call it distribution of labour-- I'll stay home and wait for the plumber and you take her to the shops," was his next offer. To some it would sound like a good deal but the thought of being jostled and pushed around the streets of London trying to get from one shop to another really did not appeal to me. However, the enormous hug I got when I capitulated and told my daughter that we were off to the shops was reward enough.

We decided not to go to Oxford Street, one of the main shopping hot spots in London but to the Kings Road which is another shopping area. The underground was not particularly busy and when we came out of the station the sun was shining, the birds were singing--well, maybe not, but it felt like they should have been, and the streets did not seem as crowded as I had thought. The Kings Road is a long stretch of road with mainly small shops. There are some high street outlets, other more eclectic boutiques and very few departmental stores, interspersed with cafés, pubs and restaurants. We decided that our plan of action was to browse and if anything caught our eye take a closer look. As we walked down the Kings Road, we chatted and laughed, made fun about the outfits worn by some of the passers by and tried on the silliest shoes that we were never going to buy. Every now and then I would point something out to my daughter and would get a horrified look-- obviously I needed a crash course on pre teen fashion. We finally found a shop that we both liked and picked out a selection of different items of clothing for her to try on. Even the sales assistant was incredibly helpful and hunted for trousers or skirts that my daughter might like. As I sat and waited for my daughter to display the different outfits, I realised that I was actually having a rather nice time. Contrary to expectations, I had not been drowned in a sea of people, nearly run over by a push chair or shoved and pushed even once. My daughter had not asked for one single thing and had left it to me to decide what to buy or not to buy. Finally we left the shop laden with bags, all for my daughter might I add, and still in high spirits.

It then hit us that we were both ravenously hungry so we grabbed a sandwich and decided to walk down to Sloane Square where there is a little square with a fountain and some benches scattered around. We sat and ate our lunch together, mostly in silence. The touching scene of mother and daughter sitting together was slightly marred by the fact that we were getting sprayed every now and then with the water from the fountain and my daughter kept trying to shoo away the pigeons that seemed to want to share our lunch. I have to say that ever since watching Alfred Hitchcock's film "Birds", I have been suspicious of any birds congregating together so we gave up the whole idea of eating "Al Fresco" and headed for the station.

It wasn't as if we had never gone shopping with the kids before but this time it was different. Life teaches you the strangest things in the strangest of places and as I sat on the train heading home, I felt as if I had a certain realisation. You have to deal with changes in the best possible way and the whole idea that children grow up is a painful one. It made me think that despite the fact that each day I achingly watched my children getting a little taller and a little older, it was not such a bad thing after all. We were just embarking on a new chapter of our lives. I guess there is something to be said about retail therapy after all.




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