It was the last day of our recent stay in Paris. We had climbed the steps to the Sacré-Coeur basilica and back down, started walking back to the metro station, when I spotted a man saunter by, dangling a pink and blue plastic bag in his hand, emblazoned 'Tati'.
"That's where Amma used to bring me sometimes for shopping!", I exclaimed. My husband stopped and looked at M and S. 'Shall we walk to Tati and see what it's like?'
"Yes, yes!" chimed S, who is normally quite allergic to shops. He must have been addled by the ice-cream to agree so soon to such an enterprise.
We walked down the road,past the store fronts overflowing with draperies,yards of poplin and muslin practically spilling over into the sidewalk ,turned the corner. et voila 'TATI'!
We entered the store with much anticipation, and I was mildly disappointed to see a huge banner saying everything was 50% off the marked price. The store didn't seem to be how I remembered it. My memory was of a narrow hall with a large counter down its length, salesmen pulling down items on one side and customers on the other, rummaging through the piles of clothing.
The store we walked into was organized in aisles and shelves, bearing all the hallmarks of the typical 'dollar store' and filled with cheap Chinese and Taiwanese goods. Tati must have changed their merchandise over the thirty years since I had last seen it.
For old times sake, I picked up a couple of knicknacks and stood in the queue for the cash register. The lady in line ahead of me asked me to hold her place for a moment while she dashed off for some forgotten essential, smiling cheerily as I let her back in place.
I took the opportunity to ask her whether Tati had always had been like this, since I didn't remember the dollar-store ambiance from 30 years back. She insisted 'This has always been there.' So much for 'infallible memories', I thought.
We stepped out and glanced at the bins overflowing with more merchandise and I suddenly saw why my memory had played tricks on me. Or not. There was a now-empty section of the store, bare to the walls, with a narrow hall that could have hosted a counter and with empty shelving on one side...
Tati was getting ready for a major makeover, promised to reopen 5 weeks later. They had completely cleared out the merchandise in the clothing section, which is the part I had seen as a child with my mother.
That's how I got the bag with the famed logo with a couple of photo display stands and power strips to carry home to my mother, as a souvenir of the future from the past, all for the truly tati-price of 5.15 euros.