Wednesday, May 16, 2012

OWC women at work - re-using, recycling and raising money!!

Despite the incredible amount of trash one sees in the streets of Bangalore, India is the country of repairing, recycling and re-using. In some part this is obviously due to the levels of poverty. There are not people rummaging through my trash bin for any scrap of anything that could have any further possible use in the U.S. But it's also because it's so easy to get things fixed - there is abundant labour and therefore abundant little shops who will fix anything and everything - on the spot or in an hour at most. In the US, the cost of getting a pair of shoes reheeled is crazy in proportion to the cost of buying a new pair and seems to take at least a week - not so in India.

The OWC Pink Elephant sales are a great example of reusing/recycling but also raising funds for charity - a real win-win!! During the year, members donate their 'gently' worn (or in some cases not worn at all) clothes, books, household goods etc. These are then sorted and the Annual Pink Ele series kicks off. First, a preliminary round of sales for members set up in houses around the city. Some Bangalore ex-pats are definitely clothes aficionado's and donate last years designer duds which look like they have hardly seen the light of day and are in tip-top condition. Novels are also great buys - keeping Ads in books is becoming expensive!

Once these warm-up Pink Ele's have run their course its time for the biggie. This time open to OWC members and their staff - maids, drivers etc. This one is held in a hall and in the early morn boxes and boxes of donated goods arrive!
Then descends the OWC ladies - and in a jiffy these boxes are gone, the contents laid out in type, clothes segregated as to gender/age/type and we are set. I don't know if its grown up girl power, volunteers with a mission..but like little red ants there is hustle, bustle and then order and calm.....
The door opens and business commences.
The Indian ladies clothes and kids clothes sell like hotcakes. I pick up some clothes for Vidya (Sweetie's daughter) - one of the rare chances I get to buy pink. Shankar does well enough from us as he has two boys but today is Sweetie's day! At each table purchases are bagged and tied and the price written on the outside of each bag.
Having browsed, perused and made decisions, it's time to head to the cashier me!! Now this was fun! Firstly the mental math. Indians are generally shopaholics and these folks no exception. They arrived at the cash desk with up to 10 or 15 little bags to be put into big blue bags, totaled and paid for. Was I up to it! I think my math only got queried once and I was right!! There were also a fair share of the canny, cheeky or sneaky customers, which ever way you want to look at it. The ones who whatever the price, just don't have enough cash and hand over a little bit short, and then, when you stand your ground and say they'll have to give something back, miraculously always seem to be able to find that extra rupee note in a different pocket! The ones who are quite sure the 300Rs should really read 30Rs. and so on. What I love about this 'trying it on' is that it is all seemingly done in good humor. You catch them out and it's a 'fair cop' - no shame and no-one is abashed, it's as if it's just an integral part of doing business!!
So we raised lots of money for our charities, prolonged the live span of some of our used togs while socializing and having some fun. How to pass a better morning?

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