We’re min­ions of all-con­sum­ing New Year’s dis­count

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

BACK in Cape Town, New Year’s Eve would find me in my swim­ming shorts, split­ting my time be­tween turn­ing chops on the grill and cool­ing down in the pool.

But tonight the Bawas of Doha – via Jo­han­nes­burg and Cape Town – will be among the hordes of rev­ellers count­ing down the clock in Bukit Bin­tang, the fash­ion­able shop­ping and en­ter­tain­ment district in Kuala Lumpur’s city cen­tre.

One of the ad­van­tages of liv­ing in the Gulf, and part of the ex­pat’s rou­tine, is be­ing able to travel reg­u­larly thanks to the re­gion’s prox­im­ity to many parts of the world – which is why I’m writ­ing this week’s col­umn from Malaysia.

I’m look­ing for­ward to ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a very dif­fer­ent New Year, but be­fore I do, there’s some shop­ping to be done.

The city of Kuala Lumpur has a pop­u­la­tion of about 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple. Most of them, to­gether with vis­i­tors from around the world, seem to have de­scended on the Malaysian cap­i­tal’s many malls in search of a bar­gain.

Shi­haam, hav­ing had her fill of the Pav­il­ion mall lo­cated near our ho­tel, in­forms me it’s time to take this shop­ping show on the road.

“We’re head­ing for KLCC,” she says. Kuala Lumpur City Cen­tre, all seven lev­els of it, seems to be bear­ing the brunt of the shop­ping force. From Louis Vuit­ton to Hugo Boss to Har­rods (yes, the mall has its own Har­rods store), the stores are teem­ing with credit-card-car­ry­ing cus­tomers.

I’m not one for crowds, es­pe­cially those whose eyes see only “sale” signs and not the in­no­cent feet their trol­leys crush. But Shi­haam spots a Gap – and takes it. “Let me just see if they have any­thing nice for the kids,” she says. “Okay, but please hurry,” I re­ply. “Be­tween the prams and the trol­leys, I’m start­ing to worry less about los­ing my salary than I am about los­ing a limb.”

With a look that im­plores me to can the dra­mat­ics, Shi­haam dis­ap­pears into the melee. For a brief, ir­ra­tional in­stant, I panic that I may never see her again – and she has the ho­tel room card.

But I re­alise I’m be­ing silly – af­ter all, how hard can it be to get an­other card?

Five min­utes turns into 10, 10 into 20, 20 into 30. I con­front the in­evitable – if I’m ever go­ing to get out, I’m go­ing to have to go in. I take the gap and im­me­di­ately dodge a fly­ing checked shirt. Clothes are ly­ing on the floor, peo­ple are shout­ing, sale signs are ev­ery­where you look. The way crazy-eyed cus­tomers are scram­bling for items makes me think this re­ally is the very last day for shop­ping. Ever. In hell.

I find a place to breathe next to a pile of clothes. I pick up some T-shirts while I wait. “Look­ing for any­thing par­tic­u­lar, sir?”

Yes, one wife and the clos­est es­cape route, I feel like telling the sales as­sis­tant. “No thanks,” I re­ply.

He per­sists. “This style would look great on you and col­lar T-shirts are so ver­sa­tile – you can wear them with jeans, a chino or shorts.”

That’s true, I think, pick­ing up one in blue.

“Fit­ting rooms are this way, sir,” grins the as­sis­tant, tug­ging his cap over what looks like two sharp ob­jects try­ing to push through.

I don’t know how much time has passed when I hear my name be­ing called. “Rid­waan, Rid­waan – why do you look so con­fused, and what are you do­ing car­ry­ing all these T-shirts?”

It’s Shi­haam – she has found me wan­der­ing around with a bag full of T-shirts. “Slow down and stop bab­bling. Just tell me what hap­pened.”

“So ver­sa­tile, so ver­sa­tile. Jeans, shorts, chi­nos. And they’re 50 per­cent off. Fifty per­cent! And if you buy five you get an ex­tra 20 per­cent off…” I trail off, realising that, in a mo­ment of mad­ness, I’ve be­come a min­ion of the all­con­sum­ing dis­count.

“Help me,” I whim­per. “Sshh, it’s Okay,” says Shi­haam. I ex­hale loudly and get ready to re­turn the clothes.

“Wait,” says Shi­haam, “don’t you think these jeans would look great with those T-shirts? And they are 30 per­cent off…

My shoul­ders slump. I re­alise there is no point in fight­ing. When it comes to New Year in Kuala Lumpur, I can safely say I’ve been there, done that and bought the T-shirts.

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