Of “Life­long” things

You don’t have to be a doc­tor­ate to un­der­stand the true mean­ing of this silly term.

Alive - - News - ■ by by A. C. Tuli

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.

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