Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Emotional Roller Coaster of Christmas Shopping

Every time I enter the Dubai Mall here – holiday time or not – I always pause mentally to remember how thankful I am to have the benefits that I do.  Not that Dubai is the come all end all of opportunity, but for me nothing screams excess and wealth like a shopping mall.  I don’t live the lifestyle represented in the media about Dubai, or that represented by those high-end brands from many of the shops there.  Yes, I like what I like, and I am fortunate that I have a job and means to do the things I do while many others in the world are struggling.   I do not forget this.

This thought kicks off my Christmas shopping that I set out to complete all in one Saturday afternoon.  As I am not one who really likes to shop, I wanted it done in one shot.

3:00pm Wow, I am thankful to live in such a place
3:15 There sure are a lot of tourists here.  Everyone going to “The Top” of the Burj.
3:15:30 Tour groups following their guide who is holding up a number or flag through the shopping mall…for adults.  The way people just surrender in this situation just seems odd to me.
3:20 I feel like I have conquered something. You can bargain shop in such a place if you have the patience and time to dig around beneath all the high-end stuff.  There is reasonably priced stuff if you just dig.
3:45 Decisions, decisions.. Back and forth, back and forth.
4:00 I ran into friends drinking coffee at the cafĂ© in the store.  They must think I’m nuts and very indecisive.  I hope they don’t think this is a sign that I am a shopaholic.  I admit, I do have a thing for shoes, but that is a whole different disease.  
4:05 Finally, most of the gifts finished in one store.  Can this be?
4:10 Waiting for gift-wrapping.  It is not that crowded, but wow, these girls are perfectionists and very slow!
4:25 Gifts wrapped, bags back in car so I can travel lightly and fly through the rest of the mall for just a few more gifts.  I am sure I will knock this out soon.
4:26:30 What do you get men that have everything? Hmmmmm
4:30 Pause for one of the very hyped-up Magnolia cupcakes with a macchiato.  As I posted on Facebook that day – it is all about the icing.
4:45 Shot of caffeine, ready to take on the world.
5:00 What do you get men that have everything?… Now things are just looking really expensive.
5:05 A peek into one of the high end stores in the "Fashion Court".  It is packed!  Are there that many people with that much money within one square kilometer?  As I see the crowd in stores like Louis Vuitton and other stores, they must have a give away.
5:10 I see something in the window of a Tom Ford store that is in my mind as a gift for my husband.  Just for fun, let’s take a look and see how much it is.  I love that obvious shock and look of horror / pity on the employees’ faces when they see me in my no name t-shirt, jeans, no make up, insignificant hand bag and practical shoes that scream that I do not make the salary of a movie star.  They were kind and entertained me, but somehow I feel a little more ugly and dirty.
5:15 Walking, thinking, walking, thinking, walking…….
5:20 I was thinking to purchase an accessory for someone with a very fancy handbag.  Maybe a key chain would be within budget.  I head to the other department store that I know sells these.  I look at the coin purses and key chains.  Are they kidding me?  I wonder how many children in Africa that key chain would feed.
5:22  I see Bob the Builder is about to perform.  I had no idea.  A small sense of guilt comes over me as my son is at home.
5:25 Let’s try the other department store.  I wander around aimlessly.  All the same stuff, all the same over priced stuff.  Its just stuff people.  Stuff!!  I am beginning to hate stuff.
5:35 I call one of my friends to see what her kids might like as a gift.  I know what they are into, but I can’t quite find the right thing.  A picture of Michael Jackson is suggested.  Off I go to the toy store.
5:40 Enter Hamley’s toy store.  Please throw me off the balcony now.  Any place where excessive noise, people screaming at you like you are deaf; or those who are confused about the meaning of not speaking English and being deaf are welcoming you at decibels newly known to man, where you have to dodge flying objects is not the "happiest place on earth" as I believe their slogan goes.
5:42 “Do you have any pictures of Michael Jackson?”  They look at me like I am nuts!  (Yes, I am. But still.) I am sure back in 1984 such places would probably have this.  They think I am confused about what decade I am in.  I then proceed to ask if they have anything “Glee” related.  Its popular here, but they have never heard of it.
5:45 Must. Leave. This. Place. STAT.
6:00 More walking.  Have not purchased any gifts since the gift-wrap!  I struck gold there, now I am getting bored.
6:05 I forgot to drink water.  I must be hungry and thirsty, but the overstimulation of stuff has made me forget this.  I drink a very quick glass of fresh mango juice as I continue to shop.
6:10 – who knows when… I continue to wander around with a goal, but yet aimlessly.  I do have gifts in mind for each person, but I can’t quite find anything remotely close.
8:00 – a few more gifts are purchased.  I call my husband to ask a question.  “When are you coming home?”  I am on my way… Little do I know…More thoughts, more confusion, more walking, more fatigue, oh, I forgot to get this one a gift..etc, etc..

Shortly after 9:30 pm, I decided I finally had enough.  On the weekends here the malls are open until midnight.  This can be effective, but after several hours of running around all corners of the Dubai Mall, I don’t think I want to stay and see midnight here.

As I depart, I pass the Magnolia bakery again.  Dare I stop for another cupcake?  Or even worse, take a box home?  Be tempted to eat them in the car?  As much as I feel I earned it, I kept walking.

I see the wealth around me.  I feel the weight of the bags that I carry.  Yes, I am fortunate.  I am fortunate that I entered the world in a body that happened to live in a place where I would have access to peace, opportunity and the ability to achieve my goals more easily than if I had been born somewhere else – in another country, in another body, in another situation.

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