My brother loves brooms. And vacuum cleaners, mops and dust cloths. Which is strange, considering that in his childhood, he never came within smelling distance of any kind of soap, dishcloth or housework.
His showers lasted less than a minute. My doting grandmother would put his plate away after his meals. I don’t think he has yet mastered the art of folding T-shirts (the collar in front please – not folded in half!). Think as I might, I just cannot recall a single instance of him helping out at home, leave alone doing any kind of cleaning.
So, when he visited us, I was quite surprised, when he said that all he wanted from this shopper’s paradise was a broom. A broom which looked like the one I had – a priceless find in the Sweeps’ world. It would help collect the dogs’ hair, he said. Just the right size and shape.
I was planning to go to Mustafa for some serious monthly home shopping that evening, so I took him along.
(Quick info for those who have no idea what Mustafa is: You in Singapore and wanting to do lots of shopping for little money? Some shiny shiny watches? Some sparkly fancy gold? Some veggies? Spices? Water beds? Golf clubs? Slippers? Crockery? Pickles? You wanting to buy at 1 am? 2am? 3 am? You better head to Mustafa’s. )
Well anyway, my enochlophobic (look it up, please) brother who hates shopping, gamely came with me and a friend, in hope of buying the broom. It went fairly well. We went at 10 pm on a weekday, so the crowds were manageable and things were smooth.
We went to pay for our haul. I asked my brother, to stand aside and hold my handbag, while I moved things from the trolley to the counter. When she finished bagging the goods, the lady at the checkout, indicated that we could remove the loaded shopping bag from the counter – her exact words were “Remove the bag, please”. My brother, thinking it was a security protocol against shoplifters, obligingly handed over my handbag to the puzzled cashier.
(Later, to make up for his idiotic action, he tried helping by picking up a brown box from the counter to put in the trolley. Only, it had the card machine. The lady at the counter couldn’t make up her mind, whether to be alarmed or amused).
That apart, we realised that we forgot the broom. Actually, we didn’t know where the broom section was. “Never mind”, he said nobly. I guess he fancied himself a veteran of Mustafa by now. “I plan to come back here.”
He did. On Christmas eve with a friend. They didn’t make it past the entrance. When they did, they had a Mumbai Local Train experience, without being in Mumbai or arriving at a station. No broom that evening.
He tried again, another day, in the afternoon. A nice gentleman he met, happened to know his way around Mustafa quite well (no mean achievement. The place is like a rabbit warren). Masterfully, he led my brother to the broom section. It was there, it’s brown straw-glossiness irresistible. Unfortunately, his guide had his own firm points of view on the ‘Properties of A Good Broom’. He considered himself, something of an expert on all things Mustafa. A small argument ensued. I imagine the conversation went something like this:
Acquaintance: “Yaen Sir?! Why that broom! Very old-fashioned! This broom is better – it has retractable arms and has 2 colours.”
Brother: “No thank you, I’ll take this, Sir.”
A: “Why? That broom looks cheap. You should have a classy broom, no? Like this one. It’s super performing, Sir, I am telling you!”
B: “You are of course right, Sir, but this one will do dogs’ hair nicely. I have 2 dogs. Need to sweep everyday”
A: “Aha! Well then! This cleans dog hair better! See it says so here!”
B: “But this has a shorter handle – my wife will like it” (My little sibling is 6 feet tall)
A: “Oho! Is THAT the problem? No worries, Sir! I will take care. Your ‘Mrs’ will like it very much!”
Using his considerable influence in the shop, the nice man got the staff to trim – sorry weld – his broom pick, and triumphantly handed it over. My brother knew when he was beaten.
Worse, contrary to his broom advisor’s assurances, he knew that his ‘Mrs’ would not like it at all. She had made it very clear that she did not care for his broom indulgences. As he picks up a specimen from every store he visits, their broom cupboard is overflowing, and not very tidy.
Once, he was so impressed with a broom in a faraway city he was visiting, that he eagerly carried it all the way home, via 2 flights and a long stopover, to his home in the U.S of A. He presented it to his wife with childlike enthusiasm – so sure was he, that she’d like it, and they would dance away having found the Ultimate Sweep. It smelled good too.
Unknowingly, he had picked up a Halloween prop – a spicy cinnamon broom. The wife insisted on hanging it in their hall. A constant aromatic reminder of my brother’s broom excesses.