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The farcical tale of the “World’s Largest Music Store”

“World’s Largest Musical Store” had been the only tangible copy for a prominent print campaign that had been appearing in local Bangalore newspapers since a week. Being the music lover I am, I was but intrigued. I couldn’t bear to keep my excitement down over lunchtime conversations at the prospect of having another real alternative to Planet M. There is MusicWorld but they stopped re-stocking their western classical shelf a while ago. Then there is Habitat at Church Street, but the owner recently confessed to me about me being his only customer of western classical for past three months, and therefore in interests of profitable sustenance of his little shop, he would have to put an end to his experiment of stocking western classical.

Let me spend sometime explaining why I loathe Planet M. Firstly, before you enter the store, you are told to hand off your bags outside. If you are carrying laptop in your bag, you would be allowed to carry it in, but soon the very next guard at door would prod you with incriminating glances. I find this plain rude and very insulting. I usually dart to the “Suite” dedicated to Jazz and Classical music (both Indian and Western variants) in the corner, feigning deafness to the loud tripe that the DJ usually belts out. Once there, my frantic search for what I am looking for begins. While they have now been getting lot of western classical of late, they don’t seem to be spending any time organizing it. I wonder if they just walk at night, climb up the shelf, and empty a large sack full of CDs over it, I don’t see how else someone would manage such a perfectly random assortment. I will gladly overlook this small blunder (maybe telling a music store to arrange their collection alphabetically is too much to ask for) if the clerks there had some clue (and courtesy) about what they were stocking… Here is an account of my recent experience:

“Would you have a CD of any of the Mozart’s 6 Haydn String Quartets?”, I enquired politely
No response…
“Would you…”
“Just a second sir” told the clerk stopping me in my tracks, staring busily into the computer screen
“Could you write it down for me”, said the clerk in a low, concerned voice
“Sure, here you go”, I wrote down what I wanted in clear legible handwriting – “Mozart String Quartets No. 16, 17, 18, 19” (making sure that I had used block letters)
“Sorry sir we don’t have it”, said the clerk in a hushed tone
“Uhm, are you sure? I mean did you spell it right? Could I take a look at your screen?”, I was running thin on patience
“Just a second, what did you want again? Oh yes we have Mozart’s String Quintet”, he paused, looking up at my face, beaming
“Quintet? but I wanted Quartet”, I said trying to stay as calm as possible…
“Oh Quartet”, the clerk bends his neck down. Clatter Clatter Clatter. He tries his search again
“No sir, no qua..rt..ets”

And so, another one of those futile attempts at getting some help ended inconclusively, but then why did I even bother! Even if they had what I was looking for, they’d be the last to know!

All these tiring experiences made the thought of another store where I could go shopping for music very pleasant. In the meanwhile a colleague managed to find out that this mystery “World’s Largest Music Store”, was none other than Virgin music! Although he was still not sure about when the store was due to open, yet my heart leapt at this very mention, the Virgin store in New Orleans was 3 storey high (though they were only marginally better off in helping me locate what I wanted) and was crammed with CDs! Eventually, the adverts in the paper gave the opening day – 31st Jan. I got up somewhat early on the designated day, took a hurried bath and started walking to Brigade road. On my way I met Roshan at St. Marks Road Barista and together we headed towards Brigade Road with great anticipation. It was 11:00 AM already, yet when we reached the store, the shutter of the store was half down; they hadn’t opened for general public yet. We peered inside but couldn’t even spot enough shelves, leave aside CDs, in fact it was a small two storey shop, surely it couldn’t be the world’s largest music store as far as the floor area was concerned. A dark man in grey shirt stood grinning outside the store, Rosh and I exchanged curious glances and finally Rosh asked him when they would open. 4:00 PM came the reply. We told him that there were no CDs that we saw, given their claims of being “World’s Largest Music Store”, would they manage everything in time? “Yup 4:00 PM” came the terse but very certain sounding reply. We shrugged our shoulders and went back to Barista to kill a few hours over coffee and books.

At 3:00, another friend of Rosh joined us and around 5:30 we headed back to the store. The store had opened and there was a decent crowd inside. I gingerly got in and clambered the stairs to first floor. There were listening posts but not a single CD! An employee of the store approached me, and curtly told me put on the headphones hanging down at one of listening posts. And then came the moment of ultimate realization, this was a store selling satellite radios. The “World’s Largest Music Store” was nothing but a devious marketing ploy to lure unsuspecting people. I was aghast at the misleading ad campaign! I was not in a music store but in a R A D I O shop…since when did the humble radio, despite playing music for 24 hours across hundreds of channel become analogous to my personal collection of CDs? Any guesses about my chances of ever buying a satellite radio from this shop?

posted: 1.2.04

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