Sri Lankan Shopping

The son dropped me off at the hairdressers last week and asked me to call him if I needed a lift home.  I nodded and said I would call him if I needed a lift.

I was let loose for the first time on my own and I had my credit card in my wallet!  I appreciate said son was only looking after my interests and I didn’t really need anything but some women were made for shopping and I am one of them.

It reminded me of the first time I visited my aunt and uncle in Canada.  My Glaswegian uncle was determined I would not spend any money at all.  It was the time of travellers cheques and in one store I was on the point of signing the cheque when he came running up, saying, ‘What on earth are you buying a duvet for – you can get those at home!’   I didn’t know why I was buying a duvet except that it was patterned and different and I was actually buying two, not one, for the boys’ single beds. I was desperate to buy something – anything.  I had been in British Columbia for two weeks and had bought absolutely nothing.   Uncle pushed the duvets over the counter,  tore my travellers cheque to shreds in front me and the bemused assistant.  I followed him embarrassedly out of the store.

He wouldn’t even let me buy any presents to take home.  ‘They don’t need anything.  You’re here on holiday not the family!’  I ended up fibbing about the time of my return flight so I would have time to stock up on gifts for the family in the departure lounge shops.

He too was looking after my interests.

The hairdresser was ready and waiting for me the next morning.  I had to have my hair cut as my fringe was blinkering my vision and I had asked for a cut and blow dry.  The hairdresser began by trimming my unwashed hair?   But maybe this was how they did things here.    She snipped slowly, taking section by section and when we both agreed that was enough, we headed to the single wash basin.  This was a shock as my hair was washed in stone cold water.   I exaggerate!  The cold water is not actually cold with the temperatures here.  It is always lukewarm.   But I don’t believe you can wash your hair properly without hot water.

I got over that as there was no point in asking for hot water if there wasn’t any.  The hairdresser partially dried my hair, then wrapped it turban style in a towel and we headed through the dividing wall to a section of the salon behind a frosted glass panel.  The pedicure was begun with my feet soaking in a very basic portable foot spa much like I have at home – I think everyone has one. I won mine in a raffle.

The foot spa was partially filled with cold water which she carefully topped up with water from a kettle until it was warm enough and added some liquid soap.  The pedicure was fine and I chose pink instead of blue nail polish and we returned through to the other part of the salon where she finished off by blow drying my hair.

She printed out my bill, €13 in total, and indicated I needed to pay in the men’s hairdressers on the floor below.   ‘Come back again soon!’ she called as I descended the steep stairs.

The son had told me where there was an affordable clothes shop so I made my way there.  It was above a bank and a uniformed man opened the glass street door and I went up the stairs to the first floor.  It was more than a clothes shop because it sold just everything from household equipment, linens, children’s toys and clothing for all the family.

I wanted to look at everything because I was on my own for the first time in a store and I could take as long as I liked.   I wasn’t on my own for long as much like bees around a honeypot, not that I am a honeypot, but you get what I mean, there were assistants in each department asking, ‘Can I help madam?’

They all smiled and they were very nice and very helpful or they would have been if we had understood each other.   The range of clothing was tremendous and some were obviously overs for UK stores as I recognised some of the brand tags, although many had been cut off.

I am neither small nor petite, well I am fat, but the lovely girl in the nightwear department tried to convince me that if I stretched the nightdress it would fit over my well endowed bits.  Who wants a nightdress that requires stretching to fit?

Then the very polite and helpful young man in the separates department kept bringing me tops or trousers to try.   Some were truly awful and others not my taste at all.

A pint-sized middle aged assistant came from out of nowhere, spoke to the lad and the lass, took one look at me and the bits of me that are larger than I would like and returned seconds later with an armful of tops which were perfect size-wise at least.  He took some persuading when I wouldn’t add the orange one or lime green one to the basket but altogether I kept three from him.  Mainly to appease the young lad who followed me like a shadow, I bought a white top which has shrunk in today’s wash and two pairs of thin trousers, one batik which, happily, has not shrunk.

The son very kindly collected me and we went supermarket shopping – another experience altogether.



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