I've been meaning to get us a nice big show rack for quite some time now. We'd had a nice spacious shoe rack made when we had our own house. But after we shifted to our rented place for the proximity to Sonny boy's school, all our shoes/sandals have been getting accommodated on erstwhile TV stands and book shelves and cardboard boxes! With all the Rs.200/-a-pair sandals I guiltily buy from Commercial Street every time I pass by on my way to a client, my shoes seem to have multiplied rather like rabbits. To add to it, Sonny boy has his school shoes, his badminton shoes, his going-out shoes, and his sandals ( in our days, we had a shoe and a sandal/chappal for the year!) The poor Acha just has 3 or 4. But every time I bring it up, the Acha would say- let us get our own house, and then we can have it tailor made for the space there.I bought that logic for 3 years. And then I decided that enough was enough , and set out shoe-rack shopping with a vengeance.
I scoured all the online stores first. But my problem was that all of them were too small. I needed one that could store at least 20 comfortably. Besides, I am big on touch-and-feel before I buy. So my colleague and I physically scoured Shivaji Nagar's galis. I found a couple I really liked, but then when I came with the Acha to 'buy', and we got the things moved into the limelight, I found that they were a bit too narrow and would not hold 20. So we decided to compromise and buy another small one from Zuari to accommodate the 4-5 odd pairs that would get left out. But then, we ran into a roadblock. The same shop did not have both racks. Which meant that we'd have to pay transportation to both guys. A strict no-no from the husband. So we were back to square one!
And then last month, we found this furniture shop NEAR our home. He didn't have a ready made piece. but he had a bed, the head-board design of which we liked. We asked him if he could make our shoe rack with that design. He said he could - it would be a plain shelf, with the design of the bed headboard for the doors. We liked the idea. The bed had been manufactured at his factory, so we could see how our shoe rack would look.. and we found it decent. But we were still worried about the space inside- width, depth etc. What if after he made it, we found that it was not upto the mark?
'Full money-back guarantee, Sir!' the man said.
We were a little unhappy about that, it would not be nice to get something made FOR us and then not take it....At which the man said- 'Sir, I will make the piece, if you don't like it after I make it, no problem whatsoever, I will get other customers for it. I am confident about my work. You don't worry about that.'
Finally we agreed that we'd go ahead and get it made to order. He said he'd deliver it to our place in a week. Advance given of 5000/-.
The week came, and went, without the shoe rack.
We called up- what happened to our shoe rack?
The man said that since it had been raining hard, unexpectedly for the last couple of days, the polish was taking time to dry, and he'd deliver it in a couple of days. It had indeed been raining hard the previous 2 days, so we agreed to wait.
A week passed and still no sign of the shoe rack. We called. The man picked our call, pretended he couldn't hear and hung up. And refused to take our calls thereafter. Which is when the husband smelt a lot of rats.
We kept calling the whole of the next week, without any result. We called from a land phone, the man picked up, and , recognising the Acha's voice, hung up again.
Then we went over to the shop, and found that there was just a boy there, kind of caretaking. Really pissed by now, the Acha told him to tell the owner that we'd consider that the money had been given to a beggar, since obviously, we were not going to get it back. That unkind remark struck home. Another man called the Acha up shortly. And asked what the problem was, that he was the shopkeeper's brother, and that he'd ensure that the item was delivered in a week. We said that he knew very well what the problem was, and that if he meant to do business in good faith, he'd do well to either deliver the piece or return our money.
He said he'd deliver the piece in a week, ( this was well over 2 weeks from when we were supposed to get delivery). Since we'd didn't have an option, we agreed and said that we wouldn't call for a week, and that we expected to have the piece delivered then.
The week came and went without the shoe rack again. At which an irate husband decided to haunt the shop. He finally found the shopkeeper there on a Saturday ( he only came there on weekends!) Caught face to face, the man gave excuses, saying he'd run into some unforeseen losses, and was in a tight place financially, which was why the delay. At which the Acha said that if he'd mentioned this in the beginning and asked for a grace period, we'd probably have understood, but now it was too late, we just wanted the money back.
The man said that he didn't have any money with him. The amount was 5000/-
The Acha said- how can you sit there and say you don't have the money? I need it.
At which the man just sat wooden facedly.
After some more words, finally, we got a cheque for the amount- to be cashed the next week.
Today was that day. On presenting the cheque to the bank, we were told by the cashier that the account hadn't been used for over 2 years. Clearly there was no money in that account. The Acha told the lady that he wanted to present it. The lady said that it would bounce. At which the Acha said that that was the idea, we wanted to give a police complaint.And he went on to the shop where, wonder of wonders, he found the man once again. And after a brief discussion, the man handed over cash in full to the Acha.
A highly suspicious Acha is still doubting his good stars. And is wondering whether the notes will turn out to be fake
And at the end of all this, I am still wanting my shoe rack. I think I will have to get a carpenter to make it from home... Sigh!