The Second Hand Goods Market

Every time we clean up our house, which is quite frequent I must say, there is a bunch of stuff that we want to throw or give away. Being rational beings, each time we look to maximize the returns we get out of whatever we don’t need, and hence go around looking for people who will buy them. The problem here, though, is that the second hand market doesn’t really exist, and even if it does it’s so illiquid that it’s not worth the effort to locate them and sell our goods there.

For example, for a long time we’ve been wanting to get rid of our dining table. The question is how do we dispose of it in order to maximize returns. I don’t know of any shops that buy used furniture, and there are search costs involved there. And then there is the cost of actually transporting the dining table (you realize it can’t be done by my car, right?) to the location of sale. And then haggling over the price. Given that it’s not made of particularly good wood (we know where to sell stuff made out of “good wood”) I don’t even know if what get by selling even covers the cost of selling it!

Worse, we got a bunch of new electric appliances (microwave, mixie, gas stove) as wedding gifts. The “normal” way of getting rid of old mixies or gas stoves is to give it “in exchange” so that we get a small discount for the new appliance we’re buying. When we get appliances as a gift, though, this avenue is lost. The old mixie and stove (and a couple of ancient table fans) decorated our attics and bred rats until we sold all of them for a grand total of five hundred rupees while buying a new saucepan! (I’d located that store and carried the stuff there with such great difficulty that I was willing to sell at any price).

Now there’s this ancient vacuum cleaner and old RO water filter out for disposal (the latter was disposed due to exorbitant maintenance costs). There’s a good chance that we’ll dispose of them by just dumping them on the road somewhere. Seriously. The selling costs are way too high. I know that in New York there’s this whole “industry”, where people leave old furniture and appliances on the roads in the middle of the night, and some other people take them away and salvage whatever profit they can get.

I thought of a business plan that gets unnecessary appliances and furniture from people (for a nominal fee; and by paying transport costs) and then sells it on to people who are actually willing to buy these things. The problem is that a lot of people actually dispose stuff as part of “exchange offers” so I don’t know how much volume this new business can get. But if someone manages to pull it off, I promise to donate all my useless stuff to them. Else, you’ll soon start finding unnecessary furniture and appliances scattered along KR Road in Bangalore.

Death, etc.

Of late I’ve been smelling a lot of Ethyl Mercaptan in the kitchen. Especially in the fridge. I must point out that the architeture of my kitchen is such that the gas cylinder is placed right next to the fridge. But then, there is a thick wall and a door in between, so I fail to understand why theĀ  mercaptan smell emanates from the fridge.

I’ve never been good at the business of connecting the regulator to the gas stove. In over fifteen years of gas usage (prior to that we didn’t have gas stove at home – parents worked for the electricity board and hence we had free electricity; so we used electric stove) I’ve somehow managed to avoid any sort of mishaps. Of course for the first half of those fifteen years I wasn’t really allowed close to the cylinder.

Sometimes I go mad, and think I must apply for the Darwin award. Yes, this is connected to what I’ve written in the earlier part of this essay. My normal reaction when I smell Ethyl Mercaptan in the kitchen is to pick up the lighter and strike it. That is my normal way of convincing myself that there is indeed no gas leak, and the smell is due to some internal demons in my head. Of course, if it indeed turns out that there was a gas leak, then I’ll surely get a posthumous Darwin awards, right? (as far as I know I haven’t impregnated anyone, so my genes will become extinct)

The downside of this process is that if I indeed die this way, and thus stake my claim at the Darwin awards, I will be classified as a “stove burst” case and get reported on the page three of all newspapers in the “crime beat” section. The story will be preceded by that of a man dying in a motorcycle accident, and will be succeeded by that of a woman filing a dowry harassment case against her in-laws. The problem with “stove burst” (despite the Darwin award) is that it’s such a womanly way to die. Have you ever read in the paper, either on Page 3 or otherwise, that a man died in a stove-burst?

It’s only women who die in stove bursts. And typically it is very weak women. Women trapped in bad marriages, with in-laws demanding tonnes of dowry. “Stove burst” is a convenient excuse for the woman’s death – it would in most cases be murder or suicide. Stove burst is definitely not a manly way to die. There are several other honourable bursts from which men die. Sher Shah Suri, they say, died when a gun burst in his face (during the siege of Kalinjar in 1545, if my JNU-authored NCERT textbook is to be believed). Tycho Brahe, on the other hand, died when his own bladder burst (he was at a royal dinner and felt it wasn’t done to excuse himself). Those are manly ways to die, not stove bursts. So maybe I should give up on the Darwin award, after all.

While on the topic, I’ve been kicking buckets quite often nowadays. I have lots of buckets at home, like any good Indian should. But unlike most good Indians, I don’t take good care of my buckets and leave them lying around in the pathways. Now that I don’t have any relatives in any electricity board, I try to conserve electricity, and so leave most of the lights off. And hence keep kicking the bucket. Each time I kick a bucket, I just lift it up (it would’ve usually toppled) and keep it to the side, unmindful that there is a very good chance that my next random walk will encounter it. And I kick the bucket again. And again.