Bag This,Shoe That!

I totally agree with the dialogue in Devil Wears Prada (the movie):

“Fashion is not about utility. An accessory is merely a piece of iconography used to express individual identity.
--Oh! And it's pretty.
-That too.”

Or so I thought.

I was (and till date, am) a junk jewellery freak, since college. Pebbles, Tamarind seeds, papier mache, plastic ( am not really proud of it ,but it’s the truth) ,metal, shells, glass, porcelain -- you name it, I had/have it.

When I entered the largely bi-chromatic corporate world,I couldn’t care least about how my jewellery would affect  people, and decided to take it a step further. Influenced by high fashion magazines and low cost flea bazaars, I decided to co-ordinate my bags and shoes as well. So the quest began, and I managed to buy a few pairs of different footwear and different bags- jute, leather, cotton- in different models- satchels, totes, jholas-for almost every outfit. I was extremely particular about NOT buying a backpack, as a)Everybody owned one in this part of the world b) I believed it was more for hiking than for going to work c) Backpacks and Indian wear, get along like two colleagues who can’t stand each other and d)I never carried a laptop so what was the point?

(What I had conveniently forgotten was that – a)Going to office in a crowded train was more tiresome and less enjoyable than hiking b) Nobody bothers about fashion in the IT industry-it’s a miracle in itself that people manage to wear somewhat coordinating clothes after dealing with thick-headed clients all day and c)a laptop bag (back pack style) has nothing to do with laptops.)

With these points firmly embedded in my mind, I opened my shoe cupboard to wear my brand new, squeaky-soled, cushioned and long-coveted black sandals in the morning. By evening, I was left with a right sandal, the left one ,broken beyond repair, pointlessly dangling from my foot. Dismissing it as the shoemaker’s fault (“It was for Rs 100, what do you expect?”), I pulled out my white netted sandals from the cupboard the next morning. These sandals had a really tight heel engagement strap, which left my toes in excruciating pain. But they looked pretty and were perfect without the strap, so I decided to wear them, sans strap. BIG Mistake. Call my left foot cursed, but when I reached home that day, I was barefoot on my left foot. The dratted sandal had fallen off while I was boarding the crowded train back home.

Disillusioned with cheap sandals, I picked up my most trusted brown leather, all-weather sandals. They found the worst moment to split from their sole-an international conference in a lavish top class hotel at Nariman Point. The next 20 minutes were the most panicking minutes of my life,shoe-wise, as I rushed around posh Colaba frenzily for a) a shop that would sell me shoes my size and/or b)a cobbler. And just my luck ,I found a cobbler, but not shoes my size! Eventually I ended up at the conference with what looked like two different sandals-the cobbler had stitched one and in my haste I didn’t get the other stitched because it looked “okay” to me then.

Now, disillusioned with the entire range of sandals, I picked my ballet shoes. They were black, comfortable and rubber soled, and they didn’t slip, or break, or decide to split from their soles on important occasions. What they did do was make my feet sweaty, and hence stink. The combination of leather shoes, sweat and humidity go nearly as well as that of spaghetti with curd.

If the shoes were bad, the bags were worse. Sample this-one bag got chewed up by a mouse a few days after the Incident of the Coveted Black Sandals (and it was the perfect handbag .sigh!).The other,a brand new bag, tore while I was pulling it away from a nasty,200 pound woman in the train who seemed to have decided it was her property and was tugging onto it for (what seemed like) dear life. Another bag was like an If loop in computing-If I put my lunch box and my newspaper it would fit, but not if I put a water bottle. If I put my water bottle and my newspaper it would fit, but not if I put my lunch box. It was also  lunch box specific-if I packed the yellow lunch box, it would be fine, but not if I packed the blue. You get the picture.

I needed something much more flexible.

After lots of research, which would have made our Defence Research Organisation proud, and planning which would have rivaled that of the Planning Commission’s , I found a solution.

Cut to a month after the last bag and shoe mishap. It’s 7.30 am, and I am just done with breakfast. I see my phone charger still connected to the plug point.I disconnect it and put it into one of the many convenient pockets of my bag. How careless of me- my Stieg Larsson thriller is still on my computer table. It goes in as well. So does a half liter water bottle, and a pouch containing skin cream, pain relieving cream, Crocin,a pair of scissors, a band aid strip and other knick knacks. My sturdy sandals (which have straps in three different colors on a black base) are strapped to my feet and… off I go! On my way to the railway station, I pick up the newspaper, ads and all, and put it in my bag. Oops, sorry, my backpack. It matches my only pair of sandals, is sturdy and seems to endlessly take in all my stuff I now go by another dialogue from The Devil Wears Prada:-

“Why do women need so many bags?  You have one. You put all your junk in it, and that's it. You're done”

Couldn’t agree more. Backpacks are the best!

Oops, I spotted a tear on its seam. Have I spoken too soon?


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