Buying a watch

I was acutely aware that it was perhaps my last flight before my retirement.

I was returning to India and my Korean Air flight from Far East landed at Seoul. I was scheduled to take a further Korean Air flight to Mumbai. It had become a habit to look at the ‘In flight shopping’ magazine during my travel abroad. I often thought of buying a watch for myself but refrained thinking that I must not make impulsive purchase. Good watches are available at half the list price, I said to myself, why buy an expensive one? My in-flight purchases never included any item for me; it was always for my wife or children.

The Korean Air In-flight Shopping magazine carried a picture of Tissot PRC 200 watch. It was the kind of watch I wanted to buy for a long time. And there was my last opportunity to buy one. I studied the advertisement with great curiosity and interest. The price was US $ 385.

At that price a middle class Maharashtrian like me has his mind wavering. Why waste money? I asked myself. I determinedly stayed away from buying it in the flight to Seoul. ‘There is another Korean Air flight to take’, I told myself. Let me give it some more thought I decided.

At Seoul airport I decided not to look at shops displaying watches. I knew I will fall prey. I almost entered a shop but held myself back. This was straight out of a Wodehouse plot. After successfully holding myself back, I decided that if there was a good watch at a reasonable price I should consider picking up one. I spotted one Tissot PRC 200.

Since I had not picked up one in flight I now decided that I will buy it only if they offered me some discount. I said to myself firmly ‘No discount, No purchase’. My pride was at stake now, after all everybody gives some discount. ‘How much one pays for this one?’ I asked pointing out the Tissot watch. ‘US $ 385’, the salesgirl said. ‘Surely you will give me some discount’ I asked. ‘If she does not give me any discount I will not buy that watch’ I told myself yet again.

‘Yes, US $ 10’, she said. That made it US $ 375. I made a quick calculation, it translated to Rs. 18750. ‘Too much’ I thought. [It is about twice the monthly salary a graduate will earn in India]. But there was no escape now. I had asked for discount and she had given.

One voice said ‘Buy! This is your last visit abroad’ and the other shouted, ‘You are throwing away money’. The first voice grew stronger, ’You asked for a discount and obtained it, so what’s the problem?’ The impulsive buyer in me finally took complete control, I asked, ‘You take credit card?’

I came home with the new watch. Sulabha, my wife, said she had been thinking of buying a good one for me and that it was good that I had picked up one for me. ‘You never bought anything for yourself whenever you went abroad’ she said. That made me more comfortable, but the question whether I should have spent so much money on a watch does pop up in my mind occasionally.

That’s the story of a middle class Indian’s mentality. He will regret buying, if he does. If he did not buy he will regret it when he reaches home! Either way he experiences pain!

I wonder what Vijay Mallya and people of his ilk feel when they go shopping?