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'Mall culture' - but when I decided to stay loyal to 'Sardar ji's shop'!
I am a compulsive shopper and it has always been my favourite pastime - be it clothes, jewellery, shoes, grocery or even cosmetics. My statement may raise your eyebrows but it is true.

The only thing being, that since I'm a calculative person, I am very particular about the price of the product, especially discounts on MRPs etc. Also I never go in for purchasing something, if I don't have money. I mean, I never buy anything on EMIs - Equated Monthly Instalments.

However, with the coming up of mall culture even in small towns, has left me totally confused about all the economics and arithmetic – being a father of a daughter with commerce degree, who is very particular with maths, that I never had any interest in except in making payments and keeping receipts of cash.

The mall outlet of a famous chain was so decorated with new arrivals and offers that I too decided to ditch the humble 'Sardar ji's' shop popularly known as papad wadian wale. As far as I remember, our family had been frequenting at the shop for years.

The other day, I entered the mini-mall, got hold of a trolley for the first time, to have a foreign feeling and paced up and down the mall, accompanied by my daughter, happily pausing at each stack of goods nicely placed, although I did not buy much.

My daughter finally compelled me to put an end to my revelry on the first visit and stand in the queue at the cash counter. When the customer just ahead of me was making the payment, I heard him arguing feebly with the cashier regarding the return of change, but was told that it was not to be so. The old customer did not deem it fit to argue further for a small amount and went away quietly.

On my turn, I emptied the trolley on the counter, all the goods were duly scanned and a printout of the bill was handed over to me. The bill was of four hundred and twenty-four rupees and seventy paise. Taking a thousand rupee note from me (before demonetisation) the cashier returned me five hundred seventy-five rupees, "rewarding" me with a big smile and a bigger 'Thank You, Sir'.

Returning the smile, I politely asked for a change of 30 paise. The casher's smile vanished quicker than it had appeared, and somewhat abruptly I was told that he was unable to pay back the change. On being asked to give a candy instead of the change, like most shopkeepers do these days, the cashier sounded horrified and said, the candy costs fifty paise Sir, and we owe you only thirty. Meaning thereby, that I had to leave thirty paise with him but he could not give me a candy worth twenty paise extra!

I asked the cashier to call the manager, who after having a look at my extra casual attire, kurta-pyajama, decided that I was thoroughly immature and patiently started explaining to me on a piece of paper the arithmetic of rounding off the digits - anything more than 0.5 ought to be considered as one and hence 0.70 paise equalled one rupee.

I told him that I am well aware of this rounding off arithmetic but it applies only to marks and percentages in exams.  I could well afford to let go such a petty amount but it was a matter of principle, not paise. I also took the liberty of asking him as to how many customers a day were subjected to the same arithmetic and how much money was "earned" this way.  Needless to add, I returned back the whole items I had bought and left the mall.

Frankly speaking, once outside the store, I asked my daughter who is a commerce post-graduate, a mute spectator during the entire episode, if she was ashamed of what I did just now. She raised her thumb and said that for once you have taken the right decision Papa. I have now decided to stay loyal to our Sardar ji's shop.

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