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03.05.2017

Perched on the top floor of Palladium mall, India’s first Muji feels as welcoming as an outstretched hand, all warm lights and straight lines, bleached wood and coltish staff members who greet us in shaky Japanese followed by “Can I offer you a help?”

One such staffer makes up for it in enthusiasm, guiding us patiently through many, many aisles of merchandise, chuckling paternally over our wonderment at a tiny steel pen-holder, bolstering our confidence as we quail in the face of the hideously long check-out line. “It moves very quickly,” our friend – for we have over the course of our winding journey through Tokyo-and-trailer park that is Muji, begun to think of him as our friend – murmurs encouragingly.

Said line is currently snaking through the store’s clothing section, making the area difficult to navigate: not that you should spend too much time here even under the best circumstances. Clothes have never been Muji’s strong point - they amount to little more than rubbery tank tops with clumsy in-built bras, de-shaped dresses in cheesy white cotton and a striped tank dress cut from grainy, cynically thin jersey fabric – this is what we mean when we say trailer park. Unfortunately, the clothes are also the best priced items in the store.

Will those plates, grooved with compartments for soy sauce and wasabi, really hold up to your dal chawal dinner?

Capturing our imaginations and wallets more fully are the little tchotchkes that Muji peddles so well, bow-shaped stamps and the aforementioned pen-holder, pencil sets and individual toothbrush holders, which we imagine presenting to an amour while Aaj Jane Ki Zid Na Karo plays softly in the background.

There are plenty more home and kitchen items that would fit in perfectly with our sleepy morning fantasy, flat linen sheets and white coffee mugs, dark denim cushions edged in contrasting threads, even a mop elegant enough to slide out in company. We think about perfectly poached eggs sliding gently onto the wooden plates displayed against one wall, spare towels resting fluffily in the linen storage cases found on another. A stainless steel tiffin box takes us back to the chutney sandwiches of our childhood, but its price tag (Rs 999), has us thudding right back to reality.

In fact, that is our advice to you, dear reader, as you make your way to Muji: arm yourself with a healthy dose of reality. Will those plates, grooved with compartments for soy sauce and wasabi, really hold up to your dal chawal dinner? How many times are you going to use that LOVE stamp? And the perfectly-shaped cubic cabin bag in navy? At Rs 19,000, it’s probably more expensive than the overnight trip you’ll bring it on.

The little porcelain toothbrush holders, though, you should stock up on, amour or not.

Getting there: The new Muji Delhi is at Select Citywalk, Saket, open until 11 pm every day. 

A version of this story first appeared in BPB Mumbai. 

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