Mrs. Taobao’s Bliss­ful Sweet Mem­o­ries


Special Focus - - Contents - Su­jeewa Pol­gam­pala李兰香

Shop­ping on Taobao is some­thing I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore I came to China. It’s truly an in­ter­est­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

My ami­able Chi­nese friends cre­ated an ac­count for me. The first time I pur­chased some­thing on Taobao and the goods reached my home, I couldn’t be­lieve my eyes.

Be­ing a Bud­dhist I was then badly in need of a small Bud­dha statue for my re­li­gious ob­ser­va­tions and rit­u­als, so I de­cided to buy one on Taobao. I searched for a “golden dainty small statue,” with a sec­ond click of the but­ton, the or­der was done and I waited im­pa­tiently. I re­ceived the goods in three days. Gen­tly open­ing the pack­age, I saw my god, sa­cred and serene, the fig­ure­head of my faith. Oh, my good­ness! To my sur­prise, it was not a statue but a few pack­ets of col­or­ful se­quence beads, a tiny bot­tle of glue, and a piece of cloth with a sam­ple pic­ture of Lord Bud­dha. This gave me ex­tra home­work to add to my al­ready hec­tic sched­ule and ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties. Get­ting courage, I started to glue the se­quence with my dar­ling lit­tle son. Days… weeks… months passed, we’ve just made lit­tle progress. Alas! It be­came like a dream.

I have a bunch of such funny ex­pe­ri­ences. Like ev­ery other

per­son in China, I was count­ing down the days for the “Big Shop­ping Day 11: 11,” and poised my ali­pay ac­count ready for bulk item pay­ments. I was then in Hainan Prov­ince par­tic­i­pat­ing in the sec­ond Belt and Road Con­fer­ence. Through­out the day, I searched and added to my cart un­til late into the evening when my cart was full of re­served items I had been eye­ing.

On Novem­ber 11, I went crazy for a cush­ion cover de­signed with dainty colors of rib­bon em­broi­dery and or­dered two of these works of art. How­ever, just like my ex­pe­ri­ence with the Budda statue, when the par­cel ar­rived, it turned out to be one yard of mul­ti­col­ored silk rib­bon, a few col­ored pieces of thread, and a nee­dle. I was at a loss whether to cry or laugh when sud­denly an idea hit upon me. Why not send this project to my gos­sip aunty who wastes most of her time boast­ing about her sewing? It would be a fine gift for her to spend her time fruit­fully.

My hubby and bud­dies nick­named me “Mrs. Taobao”. They teased me from time to time, which some­times makes me lose my tem­per.

You can call me a shopa­holic. I have to ad­mit that some­times my de­sire to buy new shoes, hand bags or en­tire out­fits makes me leave all my cur­rent plans be­hind and go search­ing Taobao shops for some­thing that would make me hap­pier. It may sound corny, but for most girls a cloth­ing store feels like a sanc­tu­ary, where they are free to ex­press them­selves among gor­geous dresses and fancy shoes. Af­ter all, I am one

of them and ev­ery time I have some money, I ex­pe­ri­ence the de­sire to bring some­thing new into my life. Usu­ally the price is a bar­rier when I wanted some­thing in­ter­na­tional, and Taobao has made things eas­ier, so I grad­u­ally be­came a fre­quent user of it.

Not all on­line shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences are joy­ful; there are dis­ap­point­ments at times with ship­ping. I’ve had ex­pe­ri­ences with sell­ers tak­ing ex­tremely long to fi­nally ship an item. There were times when I never even re­ceived the item I or­dered. I’ve also re­ceived bro­ken items, wrong items, and items that weren’t as de­scribed. In the store you can ac­tu­ally see the item, but you have to trust a pic­ture when shop­ping on­line. Yet de­spite all the de­fects of on­line shop­ping, I still en­joy it and ac­cept it as an in­sep­a­ra­ble part of my daily life.

Due to my poor knowl­edge of the Chi­nese lan­guage, an­swer­ing a de­liv­ery phone call in Chi­nese be­came the tough­est task. When I re­ceive the call, the voice on the line will say “Ni de kuaidi zai” then a lot of other words I can’t un­der­stand. I use a more po­lite and timid voice and say, “Qin wen, wa shi waiguoren. Wa dong yid­ian­dian Zhong­wen. Ni keyi fa du­anxin ma?” I say this the same way a par­rot re­peats phrases in rote learned chunks. The de­liv­erer, of­ten so con­sid­er­ate, will re­ply, “Haode, keyi keyi. Wo kuai lai le.”

Since I am a fan of on­line shop­ping with Taobao, most of the peo­ple at the de­liv­ery cen­ters know me. Even without in­quir­ing my name, they would hand over my stuff in or­der to avoid un­nec­es­sar­ily chaotic sit­u­a­tions. Maybe they call me “Mrs. Taobao” as well.

I do en­joy my in­no­cent hobby of on­line shop­ping. Buy­ing on Taobao brings sub­tle de­light to my mo­not­o­nous and rig­or­ous aca­demic sched­ule, and bliss­ful sweet mem­o­ries which may pre­vent me from be­com­ing a vic­tim of “Per­ma­nent Head Dam­age,” a hu­mor­ous way we use to ab­bre­vi­ate our “PhD.”

Un­fin­ished past­ing by Su­jeewa Pol­gam­pala

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