If it were up to you, you will even buy a new father online.” — My Dad taunted.
This was the sixth package I received today and my father clearly disapproved. He dislikes the idea of online shopping and misses no opportunity to express his feelings (cold stares and occasional sarcastic comments). He is old school and a true Indian when it comes to buying things. We Indians don’t buy stuff online, we like the personal touch, and we like to interact.
The only way my father would shop online is if the following happens:
As soon as he opens the browser, all websites should ask for his attention — “Sir, please sir, come to our website sir. Please sir, full discount for you sir.”
After he clicks on a website, a pop up should come — “Sir, would you prefer tea or coffee? Without sugar?”
He should be shown the entire range of items and the website should keep saying — “Sir, this is from the new stock and we’re only showing this to you.”
After he shortlists an item, there should be an option for face to face video chat with a salesman. That is when my Dad would ask the most important question: Kitne mein diya? (How much is it for?).
The salesman should then take out a calculator and give discount on the mentioned price. He should give more discounts after my Dad mentions that he is a regular and even more when he tells that he doesn’t even need the item.
After my Dad quotes 50 per cent discount and the salesman refuses, there should be button called “I’m going to other websites” and the cursor should move slowly towards it. The salesman should then apologise and call for the shop owner (in this case, CEO of the website).
The CEO should then come online, tell him about how other websites are fraud, offer him cold drink and give a discount that my Dad agrees to.
After the purchase, the CEO should promise future discounts and give a free personalised calendar.
Then, only then, will my father ever shop online. So I thought.
When I woke up on Sunday, I saw happiness in my Dad’s eyes (it’s usually disappointment and pity) after seeing my face. I sensed an anomaly. I was right; he wanted to buy a new saree for my Mom and wanted me to help.
“Fine, let’s go” — I said.
“Online,” he replied.
I looked at him as if he had just informed me that I was adopted (high chances). He was serious. His friend had convinced him that the pattern that he was looking for was way cheaper online and my Dad believed him. Thus began the experience we can now call — My Dad’s first time.
Here is how it happened
1. Opens laptop. Dad — “Why there is so much dust on your screen?”
2. Opens browser. “What happened to the internet explorer?”
3. Opens website. “Why is the website showing you ladies underwear in recommendations?”
4. Searches for the item. “Show me all 4,832 options”.
5. Shortlists item. “Show me blouse options for all sarees”.
6. Checks reviews. “Ashish8765 writes that his mother suffered a heart attack after wearing it, so this one is unlucky”.
7. Selects final item. “Write them a comment saying that we need a fresh piece.”
8. Adds the item in the cart. “When are you planning to get married?”
9. Proceed to payment. “Does COD mean cheque or DD?”
10. Order is placed. “Don’t tell anything to your mom, it’s a surprise.”
This was the first time my father shopped without using all the senses he was gifted with. The man who would touch, smell, knock, see and taste things before buying, finally went digital. It was a great moment in the history of mankind and we both awaited the arrival of the item with great enthusiasm. He answered every knock on the door with hope and in his spare time, would stare at the entrance gate waiting for it to open.
The estimated delivery time was 5 days and the shipment still hadn’t arrived after a week. The message on the website said that the item was returned because of some issue and a refund will be processed.
My Dad sat silent during the dinner and spoke to me as soon as my Mom left the room. “Thanks to you, your mother will be angry with me,” he said. “Why will she be angry?” I enquired. “Because it is our wedding anniversary tomorrow and I haven’t got a gift, thanks to your stupid online shopping”, he replied.
“Dad,” I said calmly. “What?” he snapped. “Your wedding anniversary is in August, not in June”.
Just then, my Mom entered the room. “Are you guys discussing online shopping again?” We nodded. “Dad forgot..” I started only to be interrupted by my Dad. “Exactly what I was telling him,” he said slyly, “If it were up to him, he would even buy a new father online.”
(The writer is a stand-up comedian)