Monday, November 30, 2009

Customer service on the streets

I was standing in front of what used to be the spot where my favourite roadside jewellery guy used to be at Pondy bazaar, Chennai bemoaning his disappearance. I was told that Pondy is in for a facelift, a mall was going to be built at that spot. I had been buying costume jewellery from the same vendor for 3 visits spanning 6 years. His shop like the rest of the shops there has no signboard but it was easily identifiable thanks to his position right in front of a landmark store on the street.

We’d actually become friends because he made me realize every single trader there spoke Malay. Apparently most have them have spent a few years in Malaysia. So if you ever head there don’t bother with Malay. He used to have the widest selection of jewellery and he would hand me box after box which would seem to appear from nowhere. I tried looking for his shop but couldn’t find him neither did I find anyone selling as many items like him. That’s when I spotted the book stall across the street.

The last time I had been in Chennai, I had put off buying books at the railway station waiting to head to a bookstore. This time I decided I should get a few books. Good thing coz I never found the time to get to a bookstore. This was probably my fastest and easiest book purchase thanks to the kid who knew every authors books by heart.

Me: mitch Albom iruhka?
me: do you have Mitch Albom’s books?
he: The 5 people you meet in heaven?
he: The 5 people you meet in heaven?

Me: yes aprohm khaled hosseni?
me: yes what about khaled hosseni?
he: kite runner?
he: kite runner?

Me: illeh thousand splendid suns
me: no the thousand splendid suns
he: iruhkuka – paul cohelo pudusu vendama?
he: yes Ive got that – do you want Paul Cohelo’s latest?

Me: pudhusu vehndam avar famous book enna?
me: not the latest what was his most famous?
he: alchemist?
he: alchemist?

Me: yes aprohm wings of fire iruhka?
me: what about wings of fire
he: iruhke
he: I have that

Me: Dan Brown puthusu iruhka?
me: Dan brown’s newest?
he: athu Monday than vahrumka
he: it will only arrive on Monday.

My mind was pretty blank at the moment so I told him to recommend me a book and he recommended Aravind Adiga’s White Tiger – which turned out to be an excellent recommendation. I flipped through the pages of the books to see if there was any errors and found one on Khaled Hosseni’s book, I was about to reject the book when he told me will you wait – I can find you another copy. So we did. He was gone for a while and I ended up telling a few of his would be customers, just wait for a second he will be back ;p

Cool conversation and first class service eh. If I had tried this at a bookstore like Kinokuniya or MPH they would have told me go find for it yourself or use the machines. And only if you can’t will they grudgingly follow you that too if you have the code of the place the book was supposed to be.

I remember the small bookstores I used to go to in Central Market, the uncles used to know every book there. If that place was still convenient to head to I would still go. Just to hear someone actually know their books.

He came back 5 minutes later running and panting. I bought the 5 books and made a mental note of his location. I’ll look for him again the next time I was in Chennai.

6 comments:

sabrina said...

Babe how much were the books?

visithra said...

about 70 rupees which is around 6 ringgit each ;p

anantha said...

Enga area :P

Enga pakkam vandhuttu, abscond aayita! tcha!

geetha said...

Understand that feeling.. The conversation itself would have mad your day, right :)
Good buy too, I guess..

visithra said...

anantha : hehe ops ;p ure around tnagar? didnt know - i always stay there convenient to shop ;p

tnagar was crazy when i was there all that taffic from shopping yikes

geetha - yep he did ;) the books were good - reviews coming up

sandyxxx said...

Wow they are gorgeous earrings. I am envious of anyone who has the patience to make

something so delicate.
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