Rememberance of birthdays past

I was about to start writing this when I realized that I’d written a similar post four years ago. So I guess I’ll talk about what I had left out in that post.

I’m a “Monday’s child”. Thirty years back to the day, I was born around 2 pm in a largish “Maternity Nursing Home” in Basavanagudi, South Bangalore. My mother had been admitted to the hospital the previous night, and it had been decided that it would be a Caesarian operation. For breakfast that morning, my father’s mother had sent “avarekaayi uppit”. My mother’s mother had sent sweet pongal. My mother had told me that she had taken only one spoon of the former and wolfed down the latter. Maybe that’s why I have a sweet tooth. Oh, and I like uppit also!

My grand-uncle (mother’s father’s brother) was concerned that the surgery was scheduled for 1:30 pm. “The stars aren’t good at that time”, he had mentioned. “If it is going to be a girl, it would be extremely difficult to get her married”. His request to the surgeon to postpone the surgery by half an hour were summarily dismissed. As it happened though, by the time I made my way out (shortly after 2 pm), the position of the stars had changed.

Number twenty eight was a week after my wedding. I had messed up in planning the flights and we figured we had to wake up at 3:30 am to catch our 7 am flight back to Bangalore. My (then new) wife had ordered for a Tiramisu to be delivered to our room at midnight and the nice folks at the Taj Samudra (Colombo) had decided to make it complimentary. A whole posse of stewards came over and sang for me.

The duty free liquor I’d picked up at the airport came with a complimentary shot of Glenlivet which I gulped down. The day was only going to go downhill from then on. I had a bad cold, and it got worse as the day went on. Lunch was at my aunt’s house and dinner at my in-laws’. We opened our wedding gifts that day and it turned out that most gifts we’d got were quite useless – they were stowed away in one corner to play “passing the parcel”.

Twenty seven involved an “illegal” visit from my then (not yet “legal”) girlfriend (now wife). That was the first occasion I brought liquor to my house. I made nice vodka cocktails for both of us and we’d ordered lunch from Ragoo’s. Early in the evening, I mentioned to her “so how do we proceed?” and she brought up an elaborate plan about when she might be ready for marriage and how we should inform our respective relatives (her parents were already in the know). We ate corn at the 17th cross park (now closed for renovation) and she showed me around Subramanyanagar.

Later that evening, my cousin told my other relatives about my girlfriend. I had decided to use the goodwill of my birthday to make sure it wasn’t taken too badly (as it turned out, all of them ended up liking her immensely, so it was perhaps unnecessary caution). That was also the first time when I hadn’t mentioned my birthday on any social network. Got a maximum of of five phone calls that day (including a “guess who” call early in the morning by my current in-laws).

Twenty nine was special. The wife made sure it was, as she bombarded me with surprises through the course of the day. Video wishes from friends, a bunch of them turning up for dinner, five new kurtas (!!), a leather laptop bag and numerous other tiny gifts (there were a total of twenty nine of them). A massive breakfast with Nitin at Maiyya’s. And the formalization of my Project Thirty. It was an all-round brilliant day.

Numbers twenty and twenty five were particularly sad. The former was spent doing assignments in IIT. Few friends remembered it was my birthday. It was around the time when I got disillusioned with birthdays and stopped expecting much out of them. The latter was supposed to be spent with a lavish lunch at aunt’s house. As it happened several other guests turned up there unannounced just as I was going there, and I got pissed off and went for a long walk. My disillusionment with birthdays only turned deeper, and was resurrected at number twenty nine (described above).

My wife plans to celebrate my thirtieth birthday by getting herself a Thai massage (she’s in Bangkok as I write this). Before she left, however, she got me to cut a cake last evening, and I found more this morning. Mother-in-law woke me up with brilliant coffee and gave me (brilliant) uppit for breakfast. She’s also given me lunch. For dinner I’ll be meeting some of my oldest friends. And there’s lots of work to do. Massive series of meetings at client’s next week. And a conference from tomorrow, and I’ve to prepare for my talk. But I’m having fun!

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.