Of “Lifelong” things
You don’t have to be a doctorate to understand the true meaning of this silly term.
Iwish that the law, or a chamber of commerce, or some other independent agency would define what exactly the term “lifetime” or “lifelong” means as it is loosely used by some shopkeepers when they sell their wares to their customers.
“Hamara furniture dada khareede, pota barte” (our furniture bought by grandfather lasts long enough to be used by his grandson), I once overheard the salesman at a large furniture showroom saying to an indecisive-looking customer, to whom he was trying his best to sell a sofa-set which, to me, did not look to be destined for that kind of longevity.
It may be a refrigerator, or a washing-machine, or a TV set, or a laptop, or an AC, or even a length of cloth – all these things, if you go by what smooth-talking shopkeepers and their salesmen say about them, are supposed to serve you for a lifetime.
Normally, a lifetime for a human being means at least three score and ten years, but in the dictionary of a shopkeeper ‘lifetime’ may mean anything from a few months to a couple of years.
My experience of some “lifetime” things that I have bought at different times from different shopkeepers has not, in any way, added to my lifetime happiness. I once brought home a “lifelong” double-door fridge, hoping that I would not need to buy another one as long as I lived. But the scales fell from my eyes when it started giving me trouble just after two months,
Of course, I complained to the shopkeeper who had sold it to me, and he assured me that my complaint would be attended to shortly by the company’s engineer. The company whose brand name this fridge carried was good enough to send its engineer (a disgruntled-looking ITI-trained mechanic) to diagnose and remove the trouble.
After tinkering with its thermostat for a while, the ‘engineer’ left, assuring me that the fridge would now work all right. But, alas, it did not.
I asked the shopkeeper from whom I had bought it to replace it. He said he could not, for the company rules allowed replacement of defective parts only and that too within a specified period, but not the replacement of the entire fridge.
Briefly, I tolerated the erratic working of this “lifelong” fridge for nearly a year before selling it off to a buyer of second-hand things, of course at a throwaway price.
If you don’t fancy ready-made wear and are looking for a length of woollen cloth to get a suit stitched for your winter wear, then be ready to part with a substantial sum, for the prices of textiles of every variety are nowadays shooting through the roof.
And the tailors charge you a fortune for stitching a woollen suit. So, I think very few middle-class people can nowadays afford to add to their wardrobes a new woollen suit every year. As for myself, I go in for one only once in three-four years.
Last winter, I bought a suit length of woollen cloth from a big textile showroom. The salesman, who unrolled bale after bale of the stuff for my choice of the right shade, was something of an artist at his job. Every time a bale was unrolled by him, he would ask me to feel the texture of the cloth.
While I passed my hand along the surface of the cloth caressingly, he would wax lyrical over its superb finish, its ‘lifelong’ durability, and the extreme prettiness of each one of its six shades.
Indeed, such was the smooth flow of his sweet sales talk that if I had allowed myself to be carried away by it, I would have certainly ended up buying a dozen suit lengths, if not more. But even the one that I fell for has not proved worthy of the whopping sum that I had to shell out for it.
The other day when my wife and I were out on a shopping spree in a busy market of Delhi, we entered a big emporium dealing exclusively in sarees. A serve-with-a-smile kind of counter salesman, having first ascertained the state of our purse by asking us about our “approximate range’, started displaying a wide variety of sarees before us.
My wife, after shilly-shallying for a longish while, finally opted for a saree that was a good deal above our ‘approximate range’. The salesman, while neatly packing the saree in an elegant-looking cardboard box, casually remarked that such sarees even though a bit expensive lasted a ‘lifetime’.
I did not pay any heed to his words.