Women always want liberty – not from men presumably, but liberty to shop. Stuff their purses with the entire month’s budget and the first thing they would instantly do would be to dash to the nearest shopping complex to buy the suit they saw worn by a friend yesterday. And when they are shopping (and you happen to be accompanying them), don’t stop them from hopping from one shop to another. And if they ask you for an advice, rest assured your advice will be straightaway ignored. But the pleasant surprise would come after hours of moving back and forth from one shop to another when they would come back to buy the same shoe or cloth you had selected.
Last weekend, I was in Lahore and instead of going to the guest room we had booked, my wife asked to be taken to the Liberty Market in Gulberg, Lahore. And then the same ritual was repeated as narrated above. We hopped from one shoe shop to the other and finally after the tiring exercise, we went back to the shop#2 to buy the same shoe that I had recommended. The shoe shops and all other shops exclusive for ladies were jam packed. But those selling the men’s merchandise were just praying for someone unaccompanied to visit their shops as well. But I suppose mostly were disappointed and were sitting idle. I pitied them and the men who could not go in.
Lahore is a haven for ladies’ shopping and the entire city is laced with such shopping complexes that deal exclusively with ladies merchandise. When we were kids, Anarkali Bazaar, off the Mall near Punjab University and the Government College (now GCU), was the only venue for ladies’ exclusive shopping. I remember accompanying my mother to Anarkali. And after the same shopping exercise, we would eat the famous fruit chaat of Bano Bazaar. The chaat used to be so spicy that it would feel that your entire inner system was on fire. So to relieve the suffering, we would dash to the milkshake shop for a glass of ice cold banana or mango milkshake. In those days, milkshake was something that was exclusive to Anarakli only, now it is available everywhere.
From one Anarkali of yester years, there are innumerable thriving shopping and fashion venues for ladies’ shopping spread all over the city. The poor Anarakli has now been relegated to a lower shade as ladies now prefer more flashy and attractive new shopping malls rather than the stale Anarkali. This gives women more liberty of action to shop, but with a difference. Once they shopped with all they could save, today they shop from the monthly budget first, and whatever remains is used to run the household - whether you like it or not. But this keeps them happy, and that is what matters most in the end.