I suppose 620 bucks is not particularly steep for a screw.
Especially if it’s gold.
Now if you’re wondering how “gold” connects with “screw”, think earrings (what were you thinking?).
Remember a year or so ago I mentioned that one of the girls had lost her earring in school? At that moment in time, I was mainly worried about the hole in the ear closing up in the absence of an earring. The earring was subsequently found in school and returned to us – minus the screw. As it happened, I had another pair of earrings for each kid, so I put the other earrings on them and forgot about the whole event.
Some months ago, Mrini said she wanted to wear the screw earrings. No problem – I dug out one pair and put it on her.
A few days ago, Tara said she wanted to wear the screw earrings too. Uh-oh. Big problem.
I dug out the other pair and stuffed it in my handbag. I put an item on my to-do list reminding me to go to Tanishq and get a replacement screw. I even dug out the Certificate of Authenticity for both pairs of earrings and put them in my bag too. Last week, I got as far as calling the nearest showroom and finding out if I could get a replacement screw, and whether they were open on Sundays. They were.
So on Sunday, armed with the screwless earring, both Certificates, and a truckload of determination, I set out for Tanishq.
To put things in context, I must explain that I have never before been into a jewellery shop. I did buy my wedding ring, and Amit’s – but that was thirteen years ago. Also, it must have been at a small jeweller’s, because nothing I saw that time prepared me for what awaited me on Sunday. I walked into Tanishq –at 4.15 on a Sunday afternoon – expecting it to be quiet and sleepy. To my astonishment, it was packed to capacity. What was even more amazing was that everyone was seated decorously at the showcases, being attended to by designated salesmen. It looked more like a bank or an elitist office of some kind than like a shop of any kind.
When you walk into a jewellery shop where ordinary transactions run into five digits and anything of note is in six digits, anyone can tell at a glance where in the scheme of things you stand. In my case, I stood in the middle of the shop, looking like a sore thumb. It was immediately clear to anyone that I was as much at home here as a fish in a palm tree. After standing around for five minutes and getting only vaguely distracted looks from a couple of salesmen who were busy with more serious customers, someone suggested that I head upstairs, to the workshop.
Good idea. I was much more comfortable at the workshop. There were a handful of employees, a couple of customers, and a very harassed “karigar” (workman). He was apparently expected to handle a dozen different requests simultaneously and immediately and he was not in the least bit pleased about it. He was even less amused to see that a customer had been sent directly upstairs without due process – apparently, I lacked a form of some kind. He did find the screw I needed, but he was unable to find something to write about it and the appropriate form to write it on. In the end, he weighed the earring, weighed the screw, guesstimated something and scribbled it on a scrap of paper. A lady sales rep, who happened to be there on some other task, took charge of me (the screw was on the earring and the earring was in my possession, so somebody had to take charge of me now) and took me back down to the “floor” and handed me over to the floor manager. This gentleman was extremely irate that somebody (I could not point out exactly who it was) had sent me directly upstairs in breach of shop etiquette. He fretted, fumed, and fulminated. Then he took my earrings, my Certificates of Authenticity, and the scribbled note, and disappeared upstairs with it. I imagine the poor karigar got a piece of his mind. Anyway, he came back ten minutes later and spoke to an even bigger manager who was parading around the shop with a proprietorial air. Then he brought my earrings and the scrap of paper over and handed them over to the cashier.
That’s when the fun began. The cashier, apparently, needed a product code for the screw in order to be able to bill it. The karigar had scribbled the weight of gold (0.238 grams!) on the scrap of paper, but that in itself was not sufficient. I pointed out that the product code for the earrings was mentioned in the Certificate of Authenticity, but that was entirely insufficient. What was needed was the product code of the screw. What’s more, nobody could tell which Certificate of Authenticity belonged to the earring in question. Since the two pairs of earrings were slightly different in weight, nobody wanted to hazard a guess. Mr Karigar, who had been so stressed when I was upstairs, was summoned by phone, but refused to put in an appearance. Apparently, what he had been scrabbling around for and unable to find while I was upstairs, was the product code for the screw – so, he had put some arbitrary code and some estimated weight of gold and he was in no hurry to come down from his sanctum sanctorum and own up. So I continued to wait at the cashier’s counter, watching all the other transactions going on and wondering, nervously what I would be charged for my solitary screw.
It was only when the cashier, in frustration, threatened to send the big boss up to fetch him, that the karigar finally appeared on the ground floor – with alacrity. It took him only a couple of minutes at the computer to track down the correct product code for the screw and another couple of minutes to complete the billing. At last, a price was put on the screw – 620 bucks. At last, I could breathe easy. I had been imagining all kinds of scenarios, including some that involved me stalking out of the door, with or without the precious screw in my possession.
But 620 bucks I could manage – and I paid up quickly before they could change their minds or the blasted product code. That must have been one of the cheapest transactions ever to be conducted in those hallowed premises – and possibly one of the quickest, at a little under an hour.
But still – 620 bucks for a screw might not be expensive, but it’s not exactly cheap either.
On the other hand, the thrill I got out of walking into Tanishq and telling the sales rep, with a straight face, “Oh, I don’t want to buy anything, I just want a screw,” was priceless. (And for everything else, there’s MasterCard.)