Spice of life: Second-hand, my first love
Before the advent of OLX and Quikr in 1960s, I purchased my first “imported” refrigerator through a “For Sale” newspaper column. Before this, we had earthen pitchers and commercial ice to cool our beverages and food. Somehow I took a fancy for buying and selling second-hand goods.
I have sold innumerable tape recorders (spools to cassette variants), music systems, cameras, mixers, telephones and other household items; and got in the latest models; in contrast to others who hung on to their old and obsolete items until those lost their worth; although I, too, committed blunders in my zest to clean up. When I got transferred from Chandigarh to Bagdogra (West Bengal) in 1972, I sold off my bulky ancestral beds and sofa set, besides an HMV gramophone, for throwaway prices. Today I regret, since those pieces were of great antique value. I have been hunting for that kind of gramophone later; but today, one gets only fakes or remakes.
My first car was a used Ambassador, and the next a second-hand Fiat, since I couldn’t afford to buy new until first Maruti Suzuki 800s were made in India in 1984. After many years, I graduated to an old Esteem. By this time, the quality and reliability of cars had improved so much that buying a used car was no longer risky. I kept changing cars every two to three years but would buy only second hand. The reason was that the value of new car depreciated so fast that the owner would lose a few lakh rupees in just a couple of years, while an old car with only a few kilometers covered, would cost half the price.
One of my brothers-in-law was critical of my buying used cars. He had seen me change four or five before, one day, I visited my sister with my latest acquisition, an old SX4. She congratulated me but he was so annoyed that did not utter a word, leave aside asking me its price or model etc. It took me a few more visits before he accepted finally that I had done no wrong. Now he is convinced that saving a few lakh rupees is not a bad idea, if the risk is calculated.
I’d put up garage sale every year or two. Since everything is available these days on easy terms, these sales are no more attractive, except that it frees some space. Recently I was looking for a revolving chair when I came across an advertisement for office chairs. I asked the advertiser on telephone if he had a revolving chair, too. To my surprise, the voice at the other end was too informal. “Oh nahi, eh tere kam deeyan nahi (Oh no, these are of no use to you),” it said. “How could he be so sure?” I wondered, so I asked him: “Who is speaking?” to which he said: “Main bolda haan (It’s me).” I had no clue that I had dialled a pre-fed number of a close friend, who presumed that I knew who was on the line.
The writer is a Chandigarh-based retired air force officer.