I was expecting it to be a piece of cake shopping with
Marion and Abrorhon, her 11 year old son. We were going to one of the many open air markets which are spread about the city of Dushanbe in the central Asian republic of Tajikistan. The market we were going to specialises in shoes and clothes. What could be simpler than a trip to the market to buy school sports wear for the boy? The time this would take would be about an hour, then mid morning coffee in a restaurant before returning home.
The day was a lovely, warm sunny autumn Saturday morning. We travelled by bus to the open air market. We were going to one of the many open air markets which are spread about the city of Dushanbe in the central Asian republic of Tajikistan. Even in the capital, clothing is still commonly purchased the traditional way--in open air markets rather than stores. Dushanbe has several of these markets and they specialize in certain types of products. The market we were going to specialises in shoes and clothes.
The buying task was soon underway. Mum eyed a track suit bottom. She smiled at the price. It was within her budget. The track suit trousers looked to be made of hard wearing cotton material. The colour
was grey. I looked at the boy and his look said everything. It was clear he did not like his mother’s choice. Tajik children just like children in the West now have a great deal to say about the clothes they wear. Here Abrorhon was not at all atrracted to the plain grey color.
We moved on to another trader and looked at more track suits within mum’s price range. The track suits were still plain dark colours which Abrorhon did not like at all. The expression on his face was growing more and more despondent by the minute. After visiting 8 stalls and looking at track suits that this 11 year old would not be seen dead in we moved on to another trader who specialised in
children’s sportswear. Again the boy did not like what he was being shown.
This was the last straw and the boy could not take it any more. Mum and son had a flaming row. It was in Russian so I could only image what he was saying. Afterwards I asked what he had said.
Abrorhon’s heated argument was that when his mum buys clothes she selects the things to wear which makes her look pretty and attractive. She does not buy something to wear because of its cost. This is not her most important reason for buying clothes. She was now buying him a track suit which he must wear. Her important reason for buying was is its cost and not how it will look when he is wearing it.
‘Mummy you are not buying clothes for me to feel good wearing. You are buying because of its cost. I, like you, would like to feel good wearing these clothes.” He said he wanted to be relaxed and happy in his P.E lesson. I too need to have sports clothes which make
me look neat, cool and fashionable. Abrorhon argued that he had to think about the impression his sports gear will have when his friends see him. He wants his mates to admire his clothes and not ridicule him for wearing an unfashionable tracksuit style. I was struck by the fact that Abrorhon, a normally well-mannered boy, would speak this way to his mother. I was also struck by the coherence of his argument.
The discussion left both son and mum feeling disgruntled with each other. First mum poured out her feelings to me and then the boy did likewise. I suggested that we look at the type of track suit
Abrorhon might like to wear. The next 20 minutes or so were spent in looking at all the designer track suit labels. He did not want to wear any of them. By this time even I was feeling jaded and weary. What does this boy want? He does not want to wear this or than track suit what does he want to wear? My shopping experience was turning into a nightmare and then joy. Abrorhon found sports clothes he liked.
At last Abrorhon spotted the tracksuit he wanted. It was an
unknown brand from China. The cothing was made out of Nylon. He liked it because it had bright cheerful colours. All the others had been grey or dark blue, even the designer gear was dull and colourless. This was why Aborohon had rejected the sports clothes. It was the colour that he liked. The top was blue and yellow and the trousers were light blue. It seems he does not like wearing dark colours and likes to dress in lighter hues. I suppose this reflects his sunny
disposition which had been tried and tested. As he looked at the track suit he was happy again and his frown changed to a beaming smile. Best of all it was within mums price range.
Was I glad when the shopping expedition was over. He took me shopping afterwards to buy a video recorder and took over the selection. Aborohon was amazingly knowledgeable. He said it must be this brand and the machine muust have this and that feature. He selected and I handed over the cash.
Is that how it is in families the kids pick and parents pay up?
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