Let lists be damned!

Let lists be damned!


Let lists be damned!
Wow, you must be a tireless cook,” marvelled a friend recently. Huh? Everyone who knows me is aware that I’m lazy and addicted to ‘fast’ food: anything I can put together in a short time. Where did this woman get this crazy idea from?

“I suppose you’re planning on doing a lot of cooking this festival season,” she went on. Double huh? I shop for festival eats and do the required minimal cooking only, strictly. What was she nattering about? Then I saw what she was pointing to.

“You have bought two kilos of jaggery.” I looked at where she pointed, goggle-eyed. And I realised what had happened. I’d had another episode of the disease — Listless Shopping-itis. Yes, yet again, I had gone grocery-shopping sans list.

In a nutshell, Listless Shopping-itis is a syndrome where you go grocery-shopping without writing down a list and end up buying things you don’t need, while forgetting the items you do need. In severe attacks, you go shopping for a single item, buy everything but that item, spend a lot of money, get home and, a couple of hours later, realise you forgot to buy the main thing.

In a particularly bad episode, I once went to a major grocery retail chain store to buy salt because I was out of it. I shopped for two hours, buying fresh vegetables for dinner, a couple of pots and pans to cook vegetarian delights, condensed milk, dry fruits and nuts for the dessert course, and table mats and decorative containers to serve the above-mentioned dishes. I even bought plastic refrigerator containers for leftovers, over which I was sure the family would be quarrelling the next day. I spent about Rs 2,000. I was well into my cooking four hours later, when I realised I still didn’t have salt. I had to go shopping again...

I was born with Listless Shopping-itis, with some particularly bad syndromes thrown in for good (or bad) measure. All through my childhood, I watched my mother make lists for the grocer. I have carried her lists to the store when I shopped for her. My husband makes shopping lists. Even my children make lists on  smartphones.

But I can’t. I have my shopping list stored in my head — only a few items, you know — but I enter the store and my mind goes perfectly blank. I can actually feel it happen — a yawning hole gapes open in the fabric of the part of my mind that the list was in. I then begin to wander aimlessly through the store, hoping to recall what I need, and come home with two expensive containers of deodorant I’m sure I need. I open the cupboard to put it away, and sure enough, there are three containers of the same deodorant sitting there already. It seems I went out to buy soap — I’d been bathing with hand soap for the last two days.

This happens almost every time I shop. I’ve gone shopping for rice and come back with pasta sauce, for printing paper and bought a new stapler, for a matching blouse and got two kurtis... the parade is endless.

It’s not that I don’t want to make lists. I’ve actually even put some words down on paper. But then I’ll forget to take the list or misplace it in the house itself, only to find it the first thing when I set my shopping down. Invariably, I’ll have forgotten the very first item, which would be the most important one, of course. I’ve even taken the list to the store, but lost it in the flotsam and jetsam of my bag. Hell, I’ve even lost my list in my own hand — I once shopped for an hour-and-a-half with the list clutched firmly in one sweaty palm. I forgot to refer to it, and came home with a couple of Bournvita refill packs, which joined the four previously purchased ones  sitting in my pantry.

Though I have a chronic and acute form of this disease, I don’t bow my head meekly to it. No, sir! I bravely try to fight it with various innovative means. Right now, as we speak, I’m shopping and trying something new. I’ve got my daughter to call me with the list of the things I absolutely need to get. This way, there’s no way I’ll mess up.

But wait, did I give her the list?