Friday, August 31, 2012

Shopping with a smile, Delivering in Style !

This goes back to the days, when on-line shopping per se, in India was just starting. One had heard of Amazon and Ebay, Google was not yet born and a verb, unlimited storage happened only in your dreams, and the concept of strange people calling you to offer credit cards, personal loans and so on had not taken root.

They say, stuff is conceptualized,  and realized , based on a perception of needs.

I was staying in another city, away from my parents, there was a significant landmark birthday coming up for my Mom, and since I wouldn't be able to travel  on the actual date (I would go later), I was looking around for someone /something  that could  make the day special for my mother.

I chanced upon a portal called ***  .  I have no clue if it exists now,  whether it has burgeoned into a mammoth set up, or whether it has been bought up by a conglomerate and so on.

These guys offered, for various prices, to deliver (in Pune) ,  a grand bouquet (you could choose the grandeur level), along with either a cake, or fresh fruits, or mithai, or dry fruits, to the person, at the address you specified, on a given date.  This was started as a need that was felt, in the lives of NRI children abroad, who wished to send gifts to their folks on special occasions, specifically in Pune.

I was just so many hundred kilometres away, very much in the country, and the prices in Rs did not throw me into a dead faint. 

Since as a rule, I assume everyone exaggerates, I called them up at their contact number , and spoke to someone, to get some stuff clarified . Having no credit card, I could pay on a local bank by cheque or by cash. Since the folks receiving the gift were senior citizens, and not unduly enthused about cakes, the folks at Flora Fountain offered to deliver Mango Barfi from Chitale Bandhu !  I entered all the details and addresses and contact numbers online, paid, got an acknowledgement by email in a few days. 

My folks were active in all kinds of social service organizations through the day, climbing the Parvati Hill was a daily ritual early morning , and I specified a time window in which the delivery should happen.

A cool April morning in Pune. The bell rang at my parent's house, and they found a fellow at the door, carrying a huge bouquet and a package. At first they thought he had come to the wrong place.  Then they thought  he was a friend of mine. He politely explained and asked to come in.

 Once in the living room, he presented the bouquet and the packet of Chitale Mango Barfi to my Mom, then bent down and touched their feet doing a namaskar , and explained from where the stuff had come !

My folks were terribly impressed, and this was followed by offering the fellow, a nice cup of tea, a sharing of breakfast, and a piece of the Mithai that they just received . Typical chitchat revealed that my mother knew an aunt-in-law of the guy, there was much nodding and smiling and the fellow left soon after.

I contacted these guys again years later when an aunt was celebrating her 75th birthday. Her kids had some religious stuff planned at a hall, and I again ordered for a big cake (many kids in the house on that day) and a bouquet, and specified that the stuff needed to reach around 7 am , since they would ll leave for the hall by 8 am.

These guys again delivered, again with the wishes and namaskars. My aunt was completely surprised, investigated who the guy was, and it turned out that he was at one time, in college with her youngest, my cousin, who was specially there now for the event, from her marital home.

There have been  scores of online shopping places that have come up subsequently.  They have specials and sales. Most specify a plethora of payment options. There are fine-print terms and conditions. Wish lists. Specials. Delivery details. Even reviews.

 Belonging as I do to a generation where buying anything  (except a house)  on installments, was considered unwarranted and unrequired, shopping was an occasional need, conducted with a lot of advice and care, and tons of bargaining, if you know what I mean.  There was always a big deal about getting value for money. Those were days, when being indulgent meant you went to great lengths to make things at home, so they were special.

 I am completely in awe of folks who say they are compulsive shoppers or shopping addicts.  On the Net.  I am suspicious of credit cards, debit cards and the  like,  and   when I rarely use  one, I walk around with a load on my mind till I pay the bill at the end of the month .  I'm even more wary of paying via cell phones.

Unlike,  eating,singing,painting, exercising, to me , shopping and/or spending  cannot be an addiction.  Like my blogger friend R's Mom would say, "Boss, it needs money !".....:-) 

But despite having dealt with many well known shopping portals, some of them very prompt , efficient, and polite,  this experience with Flora Fountain has always remained my most memorable online  shopping experience. 

While the online buying today, is like getting a paid-for prize and going up to the podium to receive it when it is announced , my original online buying experience was like getting a prize, coming home, and having someone pat you on your back .......

***  More than 20 years later I tried to search for them . They exist, but as an entry  on a larger portal here

This post is a part of the contest at in association with


  1. LOL on inserting my Boss line..I realised I do use it often on the blog eh?

    I loved loved loved that incident..its like the cutest thing a days, who really delivers with so much love :)

    My parents are totally like you..they get super worried if we tell them that we will pay something online..they are like no no we will go and stand in the line..and both of them are pretty much computer savvy..

    1. R' Mom, using your special phrase starting with "Boss...." was something I really enjoyed and was actually dying to do, , because that's what I really felt about things. :-)

      I am not terribly surprised to know that your parents think like me. Not only do I stand in line, but the guy on the other side of the window doesnt forget me , because of the questions.:-))

      What to do. Our generation (your parent's) is like that only ....

  2. Whoffff,I am not comfortable with online shopping.
    Shopping is a pleasure with touch if feel of the product.

  3. Magiceye's comment showed up in my email, and should have appeared here as the second comment. But didnt. Reproducing it below :

    magiceye has left a new comment on your post "Shopping with a smile, Delivering in Style !":

    Beautifully narrated!

    Best wishes for the contest!

  4. Aww that is such a sweet and warm experience.

    Gud luck for the contest :)

  5. Oh wow, you mentioned R's Mom... woman, take a bow! That's an honour! ;-)

    I am generally vary of doing internet transactions. I go to selected sites only and for specific purposes - mostly either to book travel tickets, or to send flowers to my SIL living in USA. Payment on mobile is something I am not comfortable with.

    But this website where you ordered from, beats them all. Wow! Talk about personalised attention and warmth translated in delivery also!

    Loved the last para. Summed up so aptly :-)

  6. I could so related to this incident. Businesses and people were certainly more cultured back in those days, weren't they? For all their claim that customer is king, today's businesses can't hold a candle to them.

    In the late 90s, online shopping came to Chandigarh and since I was recuperating from an illness, I began shopping online for groceries and even fresh fruits and vegetables. It used to wonderful to get them neatly packed and the vegetables handpicked and sorted. But having come to a small town before its time, the sites slowly disappeared much to my dismay. These days I only pay bills online.

    1. Zephyr, You said it ! Back in the old days, they didnt make a song and a dance about it, singing in commercials and across rooftops, but they really treated you like queens and kings. And guess what , I still dont pay bills online, but might have to now, since those dropboxes in ATM's are now misplacing cheques. Kya Karein ?

  7. I do not pay anything online.
    I will never do this...
    My children do.
    But the last couple of years
    use Amazon to send gifts of
    books to children and grandchildren.
    I go less and less to stores to shop
    except groceries...

  8. Your post reminded me of my childhood when internet was not there. I too had ordered for flowers and cake for my parents and still do.

    Apart from buying books and paying my bills, I hhave not done much of online shopping.

    1. Lazy Pineapple , thanks for the comment ! It is so convenient, isnt it !

  9. How come you always have the most amazing stories to tell? :)

    Congrats on yet another win!

    1. Thank you ! Itne saare baras mein itni saaree kahaniya to hogeehi na ? Waise bi woh time sab alag hi tha . ....:-)

  10. Congratulations! Such sweet memories. I loved the touching the feet part the best and then being offered tea and good chitchat in return :). My mom was the same, always happy to feed strangers and share a story or two with them.

  11. Hi, Came across your blog through Blogadda. Congrats for the win.. a very deserving one absolutely..
    P.S. loved ur blog..