Gold round my neck

SHOPPING Window shopping for a gold necklace proved quite amusing….

W e decided to visit a few jewellery shops in order to purchase a gold necklace. With prices literally on fire, we didn't anticipate what we were in for. We headed for a well-known shop. A couple of staff enthusiastically showed the pieces and explained the details. It took about 45 minutes. That's when we decided we had to see about the other places too, having little idea of the general picture. When we discreetly said that we were looking for something under five sovereigns, we were met with sneering looks, utterly disdainful. Being the most careful of buyers, it took us three to four days to finalise the necklace and arrive at a peaceful consensus.

Gold gets dearer

Meanwhile a re-visit to a showroom saw us waiting for what was about 15 minutes, for there was barely elbow room. Ironically, we had come to see and possibly buy a certain piece. A glance at the display board showed that gold was Rs. 5 per gram dearer that day. Like a small penalty for not buying yesterday!

Our previous salesman did not greet or meet us in the eye. He was apparently too busy completing a sale. In one shop, the gold seller casually appeared to pass off a piece or two that passed muster for “Just” 80 or 90 grand . We came home to realise that it was well beyond our designated budget. At another shop, when one of us turned a piece over to see if it was hollow beneath, the salesman grew red in the face. He said, “Why does that matter?” Indeed!! At other places, we were introduced to lightweight jewellery. A few “chokers” of an established shop resembled the patterns in another marriage special shop. We wonder now if these pieces are bought commonly by some of the shops but then, nobody called them “exclusive” in the first place. In the evening, some things grew crystal clear. A peacock with pink eyes I had foolishly raved about appeared time and again in a couple of other shops. Goodbye peacock! So where was exclusivity? As my grandmother wisely remarked, “Well, you're not planning to spend a lot of money...That's why!” So on the third day of ‘window shopping', we decided to look for traditional jewellery which we had avoided looking for as the bride-to-be possessed most. I for one was introduced to the “Dalamini” and the “Kuzhiminni”, the Dalamini got my (mental) vote. But the next shop had a bigger piece for an even fatter sum. I concluded that generally the “Antiques” is an ancient excuse for charging high rates. We were informed that jewellery with sculpted or embossed deities was in vogue. They must be smiling from above because those pieces cost a lot more than the rest. So much for devotion.

In one of our final ventures, the youth behind the counter asked in a sing-song voice what we required. He clutched a few pieces and heaped them on the counter, without even going over the length of each. Perhaps, it was the un-aesthetic appeal that would make an old Thattan (goldsmith) turn in his grave! Or maybe, just that it was late into lunch time. When we asked to see the Mahalakshmi Mala, one of the salesmen actually turned to the necklace counter, and pointed out, “Here's the Saraswathi!”

On hindsight maybe not everyone was interested in selling anything like a necklace that fought shy of five sovereigns. We saw the same pieces in many places. Typically, the salesman's interest would wane after hearing our desired budget and intuiting our by now damned choosiness. By now, we are familiar with most things that exist as gold in the coffers of these showrooms. Even on the day the price of gold had risen a little, there were a few sets of people who purchased what seemed like heaps of bangles, necklaces and what not. Possibly for a marriage. Amma gave me a gentle nudge. We were of the die-hard belief that our five sovereigns was not utter pittance even in this sea of gold!

Lessons learnt

Conclusions: Day one: There's no such thing as defeat (of the spirit), Gold seller's silent prayer “Just buy it, buy it, no one wants to..” As opposed to ours: Keep looking! Day two: We're still searching! Day three : Let it be Chingamasam. Plan to sit through Karkidakam, the leanest month.


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