Since Corona hit Bangladesh, many have resorted to online shopping. It's not by choice that people have gone to them but fear. Direct can bring corona. The outlet's service is not great, some like Daraz have been accused of fraud and a few are just whacko. Many are so bad you can't raise them. They either need vitamins or viagra.

This kind of shopping isn't much fun for someone like me who likes a bit more about shopping than just goods. When I visit a shop, it's not just what I buy. It's also the interaction that comes with it, the face behind the talk, the exchange of god and bad news etc. Online can't offer much of that mostly. But then by chance it did.

I shop from Chaldal but after a while the account wonked. I complained many times but no improvement. They said it was going to be fixed but no fixing yet. I think it's beyond them and true to Bangladesh, they aren't bothered.

The sales chat but...

So I would choose my stuff, and call Chaldal and ask for the sales team. They would call me back and then after or while ordering, we would chat and discuss completely non-shopping matters. Very close to real life shopping and we would become friends of sort. We recognized each other. It was such a lovely link.

Unfortunately for them the corona fear has dimmed and people now prefer to go out and shop. It has led to a drop of business I am sure because I was deluged by calls from the Chaldal. Why wasn't I buying from them? What has gone wrong?

I had missed a week but no more but they were hitting the panic button. Obviously, many enjoyed going to shops than online.

Both selection and price are better at offline shops. There is variety and thus freedom of choice. Chaldal as it is now can't compete with a large shopping segment unless there is a restriction like corona.

Competence and competition

But competence is an issue too. The websites of many are bad and complaints don't help. The product range is not great and sales teams forget to call back nowadays.

My experience tells me that most are depending on corona to deliver the goods rather than competence. This person called me up last week and asked why I wasn't buying. When I told him that I had bought only the day before, he said, "I don't see anything. You chose 3 items but you haven't taken delivery."

Those were months old and I changed my mind about buying them but I can't even use the page. I told him that.

This idiot refused to listen and went on droning, probably reading from a script. He kept wanting to deliver the Taka 300 not ordered order. I of course by then had lost my temper, used my best scolding voice and hung up.

As we are on the verge of the second wave as people are saying, Chaldal will probably sell more but what happens after that?

Good guys on the road

Good guys walk in this city or travel by rickshaw. Some travel by bus but the ones we notice are the ones we cross by when we walk. As an elderly, I stick to a given route. It's boring but safe. I don't enjoy it because it has no destination but just walk for about 40 minutes-health issues demand.

Before corona, my big walk was to go to the University. I used the walkway by the dirty Gulshan lake. The route was horribly filthy with open sewer filth flowing into the narrow path. It belonged to the rich- the liquid filth that is - so what is there to say. The path users are mostly buas, workers, students and an odd professor or two.

To stop the seepage, I once even went and protested to the darwan of the house from which it was being delivered. The darwan said that the water of the entire Gulshan I lane on which the house sat. And the Corporation has done nothing about it. So there. The rich are full of arguments, I have noticed. Even their darwans.

Nowadays I take the big road in the evening and meet people going home. There is a single mindedness about the way they walk. Homes have become the symbol of security in an unsafe world. Ladies wear masks, most don't . Some prices will have to be paid one day.

The other day, I saw a young man waiting on the road anxiously and then an elderly woman came in sight from an office, members of the menial class. He took her bag, he took her hand for a brief second and then they started to walk together, away from me.

I couldn't have gone and asked who they were so I just let them walk away. But it's such tiny almost unseen gestures that make this city livable. One can even overlook all the garbage of sin city for a few brief moments.

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