One thing that fascinates me in a cosumer society is the abdundance, not only of consumer goods, but of adjectives and adverbs.
I cannot buy tomatoes at the grocery store; I can only get "sun-kissed" or "country-grown" tomatoes. Even frozen vegetables are "farm-picked" and "frozen at the peak of freshness ." Milk? What's that? We have two percent milk and organic milk and soy milk and "virtually fat-free" milk(that's virtually taste-free too). And I had better choose my yogurt carefully, as I will have to hunt a lot for my "plain, asian-style" yogurt. If I am careless I will come home, not with stuff that I can mix into my rice and eat, but with a variety of desserts...from raspberry to passion fruit, in smooth and chunky varieties. In fact TCBY (The Country's Best Yogurt) is a well-known chain across the US!
No one ever makes a bad product in this country. But everyone says the OTHERS do. X brand of toilet cleaner will do such a remarkable job of cleaning the toilets that you will be able to eat your dinner in the bathroom. This is unlike other cleaners where only your pets can do that. There are supermops which sort of attract dust and dirt from all the corners in your house and simply swallow it all, unlike the "others" that leave large swathes of dirt untouched.
Never before would one see medications being advertised to this degree; I am so thankful for whatever regulations there are in India which prevent this. Your allergies, your blood pressure, your asthma, your erectile dysfunction...every thing has a cure and soft-voiced young women whisper the names into your waiting ears. Softly-tinkling music and glycerine-softened scenes of domestic felicity show you how perfect your life will be if you use this or that product. Even toilet tissues are always "new" and "improved". You feel such a jerk for having been using the "old" and the "not-improved" variety so far. And if you feel depressed or anxious about that...there are medications being advertised to help you with that, too!
I am considering taking fresh medication to prevent osteoporosis, have a hair-weaving OR hair transplant, buy a deeply discounted pencil sharpener-cum-mousetrap as I have been totally convinced that life without all of these has been meaningless so far.
Then there are the sales and discounts. These people are practically asking you to come and take away their products and will practically give you money to do so, if you are to believe them. "Take an extra seventy percent off our already low prices", insist the ads. I cannot do the math. How can someone sell merchandise at eighty percent off? It makes me feel that if there is a fifty percent off jacket being advertised, I will get a jacket with only one lapel and one sleeve. How can the prices be off during Christmas when logic dictates that the demand is high and the prices likewise? And how can it be that the prices can ALSO be low post-Christmas and New Year? I feel sorry for the staff of these stores who, having just coped with the holiday rush, must now manage the post-holiday rush as well.
And there is the exchange/return as well, which in India is far, far less. Here, apparently, one can not just exchange merchandise, but just return it months after one bought it. I envision a scenario in which a family can celebrate Christmas with lots of stuff and then just go and return everything (except the turkey and stuffing of course, which would be eaten.)
With the thousands of varieties on sale, it is SUCH a tough job finding out which would suit me the best. Of course after I buy something for 20$ (with a proviso that I send back some coupons and on receiving them they will send a cheque for 10$) I find that a friend has bought the exact same thing for 8$ with no return coupons.
And to top it all there's E Bay, which it the bay at the shores of the Ocean of Indescribable Plenty, and its cousin, Craig's List. You can do infinite deals on these and other sites. Yesterday someone we know drove about 25 miles at nearly midnight to get a vacuum cleaner that was advertised for $25 and which was bargained down to $20. On going there they found that there was a...er..."small part" broken. They still got the vac (no they didn't bring down the price to $15..) and I am hoping that they don't realize that the cost of the part might be $35 and the cost of the drive up and down might have been about the same.
No wonder they are called goods. They are good for a lot of entertainment, and keep life so interesting, hectic and exciting!
We are also getting TeleShopping Network now in India in a big way and I am going to go back home and get my desi entertainment too…