The best way to judge a woman is to take her shopping with you.
A woman can pretend to be a queen anywhere else but shopping is like the litmus test for her character. They can brag about their fortunes and their tastes, or the fact that they always use those freakishly expensive hand-creams with pressure-pressed rose petals in authentic rose oil that you get for a dollar a gram, but a woman is a true woman only when it comes to the "shop-floor".
Somehow girls always take up after their moms and that is what I did.
The first true "shopping buddy" I ever had was Aai and the way she shops would put all the contestants about a hundred places behind her. The Shop-Floor is like a dance floor when you are around her. She will choose the classiest things and not worry about the price. She will shop anywhere in the world and try and find a market place where ever Life takes her. She is not worried about checking in things like "Four Wooden Elephants" labeled "Fragile" or a carpet from Pakistan. She once went to Dhaka and got about ten yards of rich raw silk with no particular idea about what it is going to end up looking like. She makes her colleagues carry all her bags for her but she never comes back from anywhere without something exotic. Our living room in Pune has a myriad collection of colorful wooden birds from Brazil, elephants from Sudan amidst a nicely done Indian flower arrangement. She is the same with clothes and jewelery. I absolutely love going Saree-shopping with her and be her "model" when she wants to know the "draped" version of her choices. :)
She is an impulsive and happy shopper with an eye for beauty!
In real life too, she is impulsive with her kindness and hospitality and she looks for all the pretty things in a person by default ( off course she can change the default settings whenever she feels like).
There is a certain class of women who go shopping with you and encourage you to spend money while all they do is watch you sign your credit card receipts. Whenever they catch you stealing glances at yourself in the mirror with a halter or a summer dress, they say, " Ah! That is just perfect for you. Look at the way it puts all the focus on your collar bones from your big hips. You should go for it sweetie". Then you melt.
Sometimes in your evident mirth over trying on and buying new things, you forget that your buddy is simultaneously getting richer than you. When you realize later that you have walked out with three bags full of clothes you have no idea where you are going to wear and your friend has had nothing but coffee ( and the smallest flat white at that), it kind of takes the joy away from you. You think to yourself, " Is this some sort of a trick to get me broke?" and somehow shopping with them again feels like a nagging shoe-bite.
These kind of women probably are the ones who always suspect that the servants steal their money and eat their food when they are not looking. The kinds who are always sweet to everybody but probably don't have even a single best friend. :)
Then there is the kind that drives me nuts. One of my roomies, Riju, belongs to this category. She checks for the price of the same brand in at least six different outlets and makes a comparative study of all of them. By the time she finally decides to buy it, she knows the difference between all the places down to the very last cent. These kind of women take great pride in their budgets, making you feel like a lousy spend thrift. One day she got to know from one of her zillion discount alerts that a particular store about half a mile away from our place was selling twenty four cans of Diet Coke for $11. She made me walk to the store and back with those twenty four cans of diet coke. We took turns holding the bag and sometimes we almost tripped over trying to walk holding one handle each. I was just glad that the contents of the can would not make me put on the calories that I had lost carrying it all the way home.
She knows the prices of everything in the grocery store by heart and when she gets a good deal on something she lights up like a light-bulb.
Sometimes I ask her to leave me alone at a coffee shop when she is keen on carrying out one of her t shirt or shoe surveys.
These kind of women are forthright and honest with a very strong mind. They will make sure that everybody around them is taken care of even in the most demanding situations.
Just the way shopping brings out some of the consistencies in a woman's character, it brings out the incoherence and obscurities too.
Some women are compulsive about it. They can go on buying pointless things pointlessly hoping to make peace with some unknown sadness in their lives.
An engulfing melancholy can either turn a woman into a serious "seeker" or a serious "shopper". I always pray to God that if ever my life hits a fork where I have to choose "spiritual contemplation" over "reckless shopping" let Him help me choose the former. :)
I honestly believe shopping to be a healthy stress-buster in my life.
All my best girl friends are bound to me by this endearing impulse to spend a Sunday afternoon in and out of trial rooms. :)
It is one of the little joys that Life offers us!