Gold Retrievers

I dislike gold, yellow gold. A touch would do, but when I see ornaments glittering as though they own the sun I am revolted. I love the good things and do own a few. It is just that pure yellow gold looks crass, like rags being burned to start a fire.

Indians love not only to wear a lot of it but also to collect it as investment. So, today, on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, it was not the spirit of giving and rejuvenation embodied in its moorings that mattered but the bullion market and jewellery stores.

I admit I have some fond memories of such shops. When I was a child, it was always made-to-order jewellery and weddings in the family meant visits to the stores, selecting designs, arguing with the man about ‘making charges’. These were fun expeditions mainly because of the occasion and the post-shopping food. Stories about gold dust on the roads of Zaveri bazaar being gathered by urchins were related.

I had no gold except for a small pair of ear-rings to ensure that the pierced ears did not get blocked. There were times when such ear-rings got robbed and one was warned about mesmerisers. “Don’t talk to any stranger in the bus,” I was warned. I did not know that thieves chatted with you before doing away with the loot, and loot it hardly was.

Later, the face of the shops changed. The guards appraised you and the doors seemed to be less inviting. Plush carpets on the floor, nicely-upholstered chairs you sat in and were catered to by tie-wearing salesmen and women who talked about ‘Italian style’ and “Greco-Roman finish”. I went to one and in an attempt at getting chatty one of them complimented me on my bracelet. She said, “That is soooo beeeoootifool, looks like Cart-here (Cartier). We make exact copies.” I told her it was fake, bought off the street. I lied, but it stopped her Cart-here rant. Incidentally, the swish set often filch brochures from designer boutiques abroad and get the local jeweller to make replicas.

Although we started making readymade purchases, we still went to the old store. The son was now in charge and he figured out soon enough that I wanted everything to look minimalistic. It is wonderful that white gold has caught the fancy of a few, although I still prefer silver and since I do not attend most celebratory events I like my wood, shell and bead trinkets.
He also told me about ‘hollow gold’ where the patterns are intricate, it looks dressy, but is filled with some other lighter metal. It had little value but gold is about making an impression and there are many takers for such deceit, especially those wanting to give presents.

I don’t know if on an auspicious occasion people would want to indulge in this sort of betrayal. About 50,000 couples will get married today because it is believed that you don’t need any other good stars shining upon you on this day, a problem that Indians have about making sure that everything is aligned in the skies for what happens down below. It is also supposed to be a great day to start any venture. Everyone wants to prosper, but is that not about how we achieve things or view success itself? How would buying a new car bring prosperity when fuel prices rise each day and the roads are bumpy? You start a business but you have to work hard to keep it going.

I understand the need to hold on to something, even if it is yellow coins, but they do not take you anywhere. You need feet for that. And maybe glass slippers!

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