Mrs. Taobao’s Blissful Sweet Memories
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