Pothy Training

Posted on March 18, 2017 under Storytelling with 6 comments

My saving Grace

Anybody who has been a parent has a potty training story.

Looking back, training a young person to use the toilet is child’s play compared to some of the other challenging aspects of child rearing. But it takes a lot of time and patience to teach a toddler the niceties of where and when to expel body waste… preferably not in a busy dentist’s waiting room or in a lineup at the grocery store.

Many of us thought we would do our bit for the environment and decided to go the cloth diaper route. That charming experience lasted about as long as the gestation period of an opossum : 12-13 days. Of course, our parent’s generation had no choice. With large families and always a couple of youngsters in diapers, seeing a long clothe lines full of them was common. On the coldest days of the winter, they would be as rigid and hard as a rock, standing at attention like a guard.

Disposable diapers are not as environmentally friendly and are costlier than the real thing but most of us threw in the towel ( the cloth diaper ) and “pampered” ourselves. Even dads could figure out how to affix one of these to a smooth butt. We all went through a period, especially with our first child when we wondered if they would be crossing the stage at high school graduation wearing a diaper, such was the slow progress in figuring out how to use the toilet.

We all naively counted up the savings we would realize when the disposable diaper days ended.

And even when we thought that our child was fully trained, there would always be a small accident.

Shopping is like potty training for men like me. The only difference is that I still keep having “ shopping “ accidents at the age of 65.

After a couple of particularly challenging weeks in India , I decided to have a “ time out” day and head to a town nearby to do some shopping. Things must be bad when I will willingly and knowingly head to a large department store but desperate times call for desperate measures.

After all these years, I know a thing or two about shopping and I have my own “ code of conduct.” #1. Stay home. Do not go shopping. #2. If you absolutely must go, make sure you’re accompanied by a woman. # 3. Repeat step #1.

I “ doubled down” on step #2 and asked two women to accompany me to Pothy’s , a seven floor glass and steel emporium of merchandise in Nagercoil. I know exactly three words of Tamil and one verse of a song in Malayalam, the two languages spoken in the state of Tamil Nadu. These two women would act as my fashion consultants and translators. We entered the modern, air conditioned building and I swear that half of the population of Tamil Nadu was working in this store. I have been known to wander aimlessly through Walmart without finding a solitary salesperson.

I was hoping to add to my extensive wardrobe ( three shirts, a pair of shorts, 5 pairs of underwear and a bathing suit ) by adding a new spring wardrobe of Indian clothing. It didn’t take long for the women to find me a new white kurta , even though most of the offerings made me look like a priest. Then it was on to a pair of pants to complete the ensemble. These kinds of pants are loose fitting at the top but narrow and bunch at the bottom.

A pair of maroon colored pants was recommended and I went into the change room to try them on. I found it very difficult getting the pants over my heels but I am a determined shopper if nothing else and I tugged and pulled until I got them on. I modeled them for my two friends and the sales clerks. I got the “two thumbs up” from all quarters. I re-entered the change room and found out that getting the pants off was far more challenging than getting them on. So difficult in fact that I had to go back to the sales clerk and ask him to come into the change room. It was quickly determined that these pants were not coming off in a conventional manner.

I was paraded through the store amid stares and grins from the other clerks. I was marched into the alterations room and the head seamstress carefully removed enough stitches from each pant leg to allow me to remove the pants. I walked back to the change room looking like I had purchased a bargain pair of pants from Frenchy’s , with pieces of thread dragging behind me on the floor.

The checkout procedure was interesting, to say the least. Another clerk ( not the one who sold me the goods ) walked me over to a table to secure an invoice of sorts which I was instructed to then take to the cashier. My merchandise was then shipped to another location ( the pick up spot ) where I would go once my bill was paid in full. I quickly found out that the credit card machines in this ultra modern facility are not synchronized. Regrettably ( through translation) I discovered that they only accepted “international “ credit cards on the 2nd. and 7th. floors. I was on the 3rd.

Another voucher was produced and I was off to pay my bill. The good news is that my card worked flawlessly but when I saw the clerk grab a fistful of rupees ( 500 or so ) to hand to me, I knew something was amiss. He had entered the incorrect amount and I ended up getting “ cash back.” All of these transactions were carried out in Tamil. I knew right then that my shopping trip would have lasted maybe 30 seconds if I had come to the store unaccompanied.

 As my new kurta and pants were being altered one floor above, we decided to go to the fifth floor to purchase a few pairs of shorts. You guessed it. When I went to pay, I had to go two floors above to pay and then come back to claim my goods. My final purchase was a new backpack and this was on the 6th. floor. There were many trips up and down stairs and escalators to pay and then secure the items that I had purchased. True. They had an elevator but I have seen molasses flow uphill quicker than the one in this building.

After having afternoon tea at a nearby restaurant ( called a “hotel” in India ), I bade farewell to my two fearless accomplices and took a bus back home. I decided to model my new threads for my friends only to discover that the maroon pants had not been altered. Thankfully, my shopping buddies’ mom was a seamstress and a few days later, Grace had me back in business.

Now that I have had some “Pothy training” I just might go back to this store someday. But I won’t be shopping. I will be standing in the middle of the sari floor admiring the thousands of beautiful dresses.

 For me, shopping should only be a spectator sport.

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6 Responses to Pothy Training

  1. Beth Hodder says:

    What a shopping experience and I got tired just reading this

  2. Greg Albert says:

    That was rather interesting and funny at the same time.

  3. Sharon Pinkohs says:

    Thanks for being such a good story teller, the only thing that would have made it more complete is if we had a video of that! You really hate shopping, don’t you? I think you’d make an excellent salesperson though, just picture how many people would value your input and helpfulness! Seriously, I am not kidding. If you are a frustrated shopper there have to be thousands of other travellers who possess the same foray into madness.

    Thank heavens, we can pay at the Op Shop without incident and go out smiling 99.9 % of the time, no extra floors, no charge cards, just good old cash and carry in a Sobeys bag. Need I say more?


    PS I really admire your spunk though!

    PPS Are there any men over there who actually like to shop?

  4. Patrice says:

    Have you thought of just buying a sari. I reAlly understand what your saying! Best to have a tailor in India. I am going to Rajasthan April 2 NS. I have decided to go to Golden Temple in Amritsar for four days 12-15 April. Len your stories are very funny. Patrice

  5. Joan Delorey says:

    What an experience! And we complain about the lineups at the grocery store.

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