Thursday, March 22, 2018

The great shopping mystery...



There are two shops where you seldom question the bill as much as you would in normal circumstances and it now appears that you rightfully should since it is your money. The first instance is at the medical shop and the next is the jewellery shop.
You would have noticed that in both shops you will have the seller making a lot of complex looking calculations before they give you the price in a piece of paper. This was quite common before the demonetization and in most mom and pop type of stores. In this post I will restrict myself to the latter the jewellery shops because they seem to be taking up a lot of newsprint space these days.
So I have observed during our rare visit to the jewellery store after shortlisting the piece and observing the sticker on it the sales man promptly pulls out a paper and proceeds to furiously calculate some figures. Upon the first set he will proceed to do some more calculations while the buyer in the meanwhile will be torn between looking at the said piece yearningly and the sales man’s work. After some time with multiple calculations on the piece of paper the sales man will end up showing a price which will be around 15-20% higher than the price of ornament gold for the day.
He will wait for a few seconds before the surprised buyer begins to question the mysterious workings, the break up would be something like this:
Cost of jewellery as per the weight of the piece - A
Making charges – B
Wastage – C
GST (after demon & GST especially) - D
Total – (A – (B+C))+D
By the time the buyer recovers and starts poring over the mysterious workings on the sheet and tries to make some sense and finally saying that is there any discount, the sales person after a look of some pain will again start working on the calculations and promptly offer to magnanimously reduce by another 2-5% depending on the buyer’s ability to push.
There will also be the “with bill and without bill option” in a few places where the buyer will feel happy to save some more by avoiding a bill.

All the above mentioned things are routine but should not buyers be more aware and ask more questions especially about the so called making charges and wastage. How is it possible to give a discount the money is entirely given to the making of the piece of jewellery and the wastage of gold incurred in making the piece. Who is then paying for the people selling it? Is the seller selling on gratis without a profit motive? Why do rates vary? Why this rigmarole of complex calculations?
Even the recent ads by the bald jeweller who attempts to dispel these doubts makes me wonder even more, if he is so honest, how does he make money? What is that we should know about the jewellery business? Why don’t people ask more questions to make the sale more transparent?

(Pssst rumour has it that Hansika was paid upwards of a crore for the ad)





Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The One rupee coin


Yesterday when I was waiting at the famous SRP tools junction there was a group of transgenders who were asking for alms. I usually look away as they can be a little pushy and it can be quite uncomfortable in trains but this time I saw one person who approached my car asking for alms. I picked out a 10 rupee note and gave it to the person, the person asked me for a 1 rupee coin. I was confused and said I did not have coins.

The person asked the others in the group if they had a rupee to give me. I was confused even more when the person said that the rupee is for me. Thoroughly puzzled I found a coin which I handed over. This person bit the coin almost like athletes bite their medals these days and asked to see my wallet.  Then the person put the coin in my wallet and said do not spend this and walked away with a blessing that I should live well.

This short interaction disturbed me:
-          These people are outcasts and not respected yet they came asking for alms without any nuisance
-          They received money and they wanted to give something in return, though I am still not sure about biting it
-          Since I could not initially find a coin they were ready to give me one of their coins
-          They walked away with a blessing which somehow appeared to be heart felt.

These people will not be accepted into the mainstream, surely there can be something that they can do besides asking for alms?
What is the significance of this one rupee coin? Why did they bite it?
Will I still react with revulsion or fear or disgust when I see these people again?
Would I have had the same dignity with which they carried themselves if I was also not an ordinary person?