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Wielding the shopping bag

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shopping blues Only some men have a yen for buying groceries
shopping blues Only some men have a yen for buying groceries

How good are men at handling the grocery shopping list?

Ha, the grocery shopping list! Can men be trusted with it? Do they deliver or need a helpline of sorts? Is it a woman’s domain and too much for the men to handle?

Let’s start with the bachelors. Vijay Anand, a chartered accountant, says: “Everything is taken care of by my parents. I may accompany them for shopping, but I don’t have much idea about the lists or the purchases.”

A problem with pulses

But things may change a little with marriage. Says Dorothy Ravindranath, a part-time teacher: “Sometimes, men get what we want. But, condiments and pulses tend to confuse them.I think women just assume that men know certain things. Men too come up with excuses such as ‘I did not pass through the shop’ or ‘could not pick it up’.”

Her husband E.I. Ravindranath, an executive, chuckles: “Honestly, I don’t read my shopping list. I just slip it into my pocket, and, invariably, lose it. After a couple of days, and a phone call from my wife, I bring what she wants.” But, having gotten smarter with experience, Ravindranath says his wife makes a copy of the list she gives him! In his opinion, women such as his wife are great believers in lists and are meticulous. “They don’t like to waste their time and resources.”

Karen Rudhra, a software engineer, says her husband calls her from the shop if he has a doubt. “If I just write down an item such as coffee powder without any specifics, he may call me up to ask if I meant instant coffee or filter coffee powder, and, how much should be bought. Men don’t realise that certain items such as tamarind and pulses are bought in larger quantities, whereas spices and condiments are purchased in smaller packs.” The other question that men have, according to Karen, is: Where is all this available?

“In a large format store with too many aisles, it is sometimes overwhelming for them. My husband would rather go to a small shop. And, he has little patience for queues .” Karen’s husband Rudhra, also a software engineer says he has not fared too badly with lists. “Usually I buy what is required of me and have never forgotten to get what she wants because she gives me a list. Since she writes the names of the items in English, I may call up to check what the Tamil equivalent is.”

Thomas Philip, who runs a handicraft store, says he rarely goes grocery shopping, because “it is my wife’s territory”. “I may take her to the store, but I have no interest. My father was quite the opposite; I guess it differs from man to man.”

The devil called detail

“While men take in the overall picture, women absorb the details. For instance, my wife would ask me to get the curd from the fridge. I would look at it from top to bottom, and notice only the beer; till she yells it’s there in that blue container on the second shelf or whatever.”

His wife Thangam Philip says her husband would rather she went shopping with him.”

If there’s a sudden need, say I am expecting guests, he would go and get it. But, he is always concerned about not knowing what to buy.”

While Riddima, a home maker, says her husband, Manoj Kumar, has never gone shopping, leave alone handling a list, (she just calls up the grocery shops and gives them the list) Manoj, a financier, is quite happy to leave it to the women.

“They know we guys will mess it up, and we may end up going back a second time, which I am not inclined to do anyway.”

His parting shot: “Men should keep away from this. Women handle shopping lists better.”

SUDHA UMASHANKER

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