This is a story about the glasses that opened my eyes or the trap of consumerism . It’s a story that we encounter daily which we need to remind ourselves regularly to remain aware of the subtle thread of consumerism with which we strangulate ourselves ever willingly.
I needed to buy my reading glasses as I suspected my eyesight has further weakened. Being from a ‘lower upper middle class’ in George Orwell’s word, the nearby mall was the obvious choice. After all my local चश्मे की दूकान doesn’t have an AC and my daughter had a membership card for Lenskart !
Hot weather of Delhi had turned pleasant with bouts of rain . I was greeted with a broad smile by the professional looking, smart boy at the mall outlet of Lenskart. I half-jokingly told him that I don’t come to such shops as they are very expensive.
He smiled confidently and showed me two rows of frames aesthetically arranged on the shelf. He said these are for Rs. 1600 with glasses- buy one get one free. I quickly calculated- Rs. 800 apiece. Not much!I felt a little guilty of accusing him of being expensive. To save my face and conscience, I told him I was joking.
While I looked at ‘affordable’ frames, he asked my daughter to scan a bar code to have my eyesight checked before I ordered the lenses. A wave of happiness swept through me. What a hassle to go to an eye specialist, pay a few hundred bucks at least, wait in the que…
A few minutes later after I had selected some frames which ‘suited me and enhanced my personality’ as per my daughter, I was called in to sit in front of a machine. Chin down and look straight, said the technician, eye specialistand sales person rolled into one. I happily obliged.
As expected, my reading vision had deteriorated and glasses were to be made accordingly. Now, story takes a turn. I thought I will be shown some varieties which would add a little more to Rs. 1600 for the pair. But I was bombarded with technical names of lenses to chose from.
Bi-focal, progressive, photochromic, computer glare cutting, ultraviolet-filtering…my head was reeling. I hesitatingly said progressive as I had this earlier. I asked for price. By now I had realised Rs. 1600 for two was an unattainable goal. But I was prepared to double the amount.
The all in one person did some quick calculations and said Rs. 12,500. Boom. Shocked, I fumbled to negotiate. I said I needed just one as I wasn’t prepared to go beyond 5000-6000 for one pair of specs. It would also cost the same, replied the all in one person with a straight face.
I tried to argue, charm him with humour and wit, show annoyance. Nothing worked. Of course, my daughter was irritated, perhaps feeling slighted too with me for haggling and refusing this good bargain. Unable to decide, I handed over my ATM card to my daughter and walked out of store in protest or surrender.
Ding. Message arrived. Rs. 12,600 deducted. I had purchased 2 pairs of specs with glasses and a few goodies which my uncultivated mind failed to appreciate. Of course, I had a good deal of buy one get one free.
Never mind. Move on to the next shop, another alluring offer.