Dear Couples, IKEA Might Send You to Therapy — But It’s Worth It
This is what (almost) every conversation at IKEA sounds like. Sidin Vadukut weighs in.
This is an open letter to you from an NRI, on the auspicious occasion of the inauguration of India's first IKEA in Hyderabad.
This is wonderful news for every section of Indian society. For the millions looking for work, this will create many job opportunities, as people purchase flat-pack furniture, and then hire other people to assemble it for them, and other people to...
Every ‘IKEA Conversation’ Ever
The wealthy classes will get a chance to enjoy the world-class consumerist delights of IKEA for 2-3 months before they realize that b*nch*(!!) everyone has the Billy bookcase at home — ‘to phir social signalling kaise kar sakta hain!’. So they will stop going to IKEA.
But then you can’t just stop going to IKEA, you just can’t — it is called behavioural economics, and so you will go again.
And then you will meet other people like you. And you will tell each other ‘No, no, we don’t buy anything from here. Mad or what? We are just getting items for the children’s bedroom’. ‘WHAT NONSENSE YOU ARE SAYING! THIS IS LIQUOR CABINET??? I DID NOT EVEN KNOW! I THOUGHT STUDY TABLE — I WILL PUT IT BACK LATER! WHAT IS THE HURRY!’
Keep this in mind.
Couples and spouses, let me tell you right now itself: beware, beware, beware. IKEA is the inter-galactic center of excellence, for passive-aggressive conversations between spouses.
Mohan: “RADHA! Good news. I have found the perfect side-table for that gap between two sofas in the living room.”
Mohan: “Isn’t the Lovbacken spectacular?”
Radha: “Yeah okay.”
Mohan: “By OK you mean ‘OK we should buy’ or ‘OK it is a good idea’ or ‘OK we should shortlist’ or…”
Radha: “If you like it so much you just buy it; why are you asking me?”
Mohan: “I don’t want it anymore. If we can’t have a conversation about side tables also then what can I do?”
Radha: “What is next on the list?”
Mohan: “Shoe cabinet.”
Radha: “Oh my god, look at this shoe cabinet! Mackapar is perfect! What do you think?”
Mohan: “It is okay…”
Radha: “OK means yes or OK means it is good, or OK means we should shortlist or...”
IKEA Customer Service Fellow: “Hello is everything ok?”
By the end of the shopping trip, both of you have purchased several thousand rupees worth of things that both of you have absolutely no interest in. And therefore, two weeks later, you will come back again to buy the things you ACTUALLY like. This is the IKEA strategy.
Keep this in mind.
Let’s Go to IKEA! I Can’t Live Like Robinson Crusoe!
Shortly, IKEA will send you their catalogue. It is one of the most insidious documents created in the history of mankind. One day, you will wake up in the morning and suddenly the ‘IKEA Catalogue’ is on your doorstep. You will casually flick through it thinking, “I am perfectly happy with my house; it is a wonderful, personal space, but no harm in looking for any improvement ideas.”
Forty minutes later you will be thinking, “Why am I living like an animal that by mistake got stuck on a cargo jet full of furniture being transported for a ‘Worst Furniture In the World’ exhibition — this plane then crashed into Deonar garbage dumping ground, and then the animal thought might as well just live in the wreckage.”
This is exactly what will happen to you. So as soon as your monthly salary comes, you will tell your family ‘we are going to IKEA this very moment, I am fed up living like Robinson Crusoe’.
Five hours later, you will stand in your living room with one yellow fluorescent elephant show piece on top of a purple coffee table, surrounded by eleven totally unmatching table lamps and one large cactus. Your children will look at you and ask, “Papa papa, today onward our house is a dance bar?”
You will then throw the ‘IKEA Catalogue’ at the above-mentioned children.
Just keep this in mind.
Putting Together Your New IKEA Loot
Then of course there is the ‘self-assembling’ process. Many people will be scared by this. Rest assured, that there is actually nothing to fear. IKEA has some of the world’s smartest designers designing the instructions. Within moments, you will know exactly how to assemble anything — even a four-segment wardrobe, with sliding doors, mirror insert, triple layer drawers and concealed lighting. Easy. No problem.
Ha ha ha. No.
Best of luck.
However, perhaps you are some sort of highly intelligent, handsome, well-educated engineer of some sort from an NIT, say Trichy, and you are actually capable of assembling all and any IKEA items with minimal hassle. Congrats.
However, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE MUST YOU TELL YOUR FRIENDS OR FAMILY ABOUT THIS. Otherwise, suddenly you will find yourself in bizarre situations.
Ashwath: “Welcome to our Diwali party everybody.”
Sidin: “Hello all! Good to be here, where is the traditional beer.”
Ashwath: “First of all, we will play a traditional North Indian Diwali card game, where you have to shout random things like ‘Duggi ki pair’, ‘Laddu ki chaal’ ‘Kutthe ki maut’ etc.’ We will play this at the dining… oh my god, I forgot to assemble this Ingatorp dining table! This is a crisis. Is there anyone here who can quickly assemble IKEA items????”
Sidin: “Oh my god! Ok fine. I will go to the toilet first.”
Ashwath: “Speaking of toilet in general, and shower fittings in particular...”
Keep this in mind for sure.
Dining at IKEA
And finally there is the restaurant at IKEA. Friends, the restaurant at IKEA is a wonderland within paradise. I personally have friends who go all the way to IKEA just to eat for one hour, take a walk through soft furnishings for one hour, eat again for one hour and so on. Not me. I am referring to my friends.
Always leave plenty of time during your trip to spend time with your family at the IKEA restaurant.
No doubt you will have posh, pretentious friends who will say “ Ha ha ha what nonsense, why are you eating at IKEA.” Just laugh it off, and next time you are assembling for them Brimnes bed or Hemnes side table or Billy bookcase or Langur (really) children’s chair, leave two or three screws loose.
Keep this in mind on your next trip.
I hope this open letter will help you make the most of this wonderful opportunity.
I wish all Indians a very happy IKEA experience.
(Sidin Vadukut is an NRI writer who lives and works in London and overseas. His latest novel is ‘Bombay Fever’. He tweets at @sidin. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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