My former colleague was an online shopping addict. She was always very well turned out and fashionable, but one day she discovered the world of online shopping and then it became her go-to place to counter her dissatisfaction with her job. She justified it to herself as a cost-saving as she had found a way to buy from US sites, have the stuff delivered to a service provider in the US who would then ship the items to her at a cost less than the usual international delivery charges. (Yes, I do want to find out the details of how this works, but I’m also scared to, lest I unleash another monster.) Finally she quit the job, thereby solving both problems at one go.

My main experience with online shopping was on Flipkart, and I restricted it to just books and only before a trip to India. I also restricted myself to books by Indian authors that are not commonly available here, or children’s books. If there was a book by a foreign author I really wanted, I checked the library systems here first. All these rules because I realised early on that it could get out of control.

Another thing I usually buy in India is make-up. For foundation and compact, I find it hard to get a good match to my skin tone here. I also realised that make-up of the mid-range brands like Revlon is slightly cheaper in India, and even cheaper if you factor in the currency difference. Unfortunately, I was unable to find time to buy what I needed in India on my last trip and when I had finally made up my mind to buy the items in Hong Kong, I realised they were unavailable. Thus, when V was scheduled to go to India, I began my quest to find what I needed on Flipkart and have them delivered to my in-law’s place so V wouldn’t even have to go shopping for them. Shopping for make-up online works if you know exactly what you need, but it’s a short hop from there into stuff you don’t need but looks very interesting.

Actually, Flipkart didn’t have everything I needed and I didn’t want to take a chance with another website, so I went back to the store in HK. Shopping for make-up is like being in a candy store because everything literally looks like candy and there are so many delectable looking things which are not that expensive that before you know it you can land up with a whole lot of stuff. I have to exercise serious restraint in these shops so as not to land up with a stash that just sits there (because I’m actually not that adept at the actual application of make-up) and results in me getting a bollocking from V for buying stuff and not using it, which is some kind of weird pet peeve that he has. I also realised once again that the price difference is not that much (actually, I’m not that good with numbers so not exactly sure) and if I’m willing to experiment, I could just buy what I need here. I’m kind of torn at the moment between sticking with the tried-and-tested lip gloss colours that I like or being absolutely daring and going for, you know, one shade darker.

Anyhoo, I compromised by buying a couple of things in the store, calling V and frantically halving the number of lipglosses I had asked him to get from India, and leaving the Flipkart order as is. He arrived yesterday with my stuff, and I’m quite happy with it, but I think in future except for foundation, compact, Himalaya kajal and bronzer if I can find it, I’m going to get stuff in HK only because it is stuff to try stuff on physically and compare options in-store. I also used to order perfumes of until I realised some of them are cheaper in store at SaSa so it’s best to toggle between the two.

I’ve also realised that not all books are cheaper on Flipkart. Or the price difference isn’t always enough to warrant a wait until a trip to India. So, recently, I ordered a book online via Let’s see how it goes, but this could also open new floodgates.

For clothes and shoes, I can imagine that one good experience is all it takes. I had once ordered shoes on Flipkart and asked MinCat to bring them on her trip to HK, but sadly, the quality was just not up to par, and so in India I’ve resolved to see and buy. I feel like overall the quality of shoes from the local brands is slipping in India and you have to hunt a bit when earlier one was hardpressed to choose. In HK, shoes are expensive and many people have turned to online stores. I’ve written about my experience with Zalora before, and it was pretty good but because I didn’t get the sizing right the first time, I dropped it. But the next time I tried, I fared better and it’s really a big struggle not to jump at every ‘deal’ that hits my inbox. Yesterday, I discovered this store via this blog, and I’ve been suppressing the belief that I need these shoes ever since. Ouff.

Also, yesterday, I finally went to the wedding registry set up by my second cousin. I’ve never experienced using a registry before and my general impression was that it’s mighty presumptuous. But my actual experience was pretty good. There were several reasonably priced items to pick from and even if one’s contribution was small, at least you have the satisfaction of knowing you’re gifting something the couple really needs and making a contribution to their new home. It’s a little more personal than money, but very practical. I think India should adopt this concept. Hong Kong has the lai see concept which is uber practical to the extent of being a strain on the resources of people who have more than two weddings to attend in a month.

The moral of the story is that given the ease of online shopping, the relatively good results, and the amount of time one is in front of the computer bored during a work day, it is best to shut oneself off from the possibilities except in cases of dire emergency.