Monday, October 18, 2010

Gorgeous old furniture auctioned from Indian home

Do you want to know if there is any value in old stuff or is that just a myth?

Well, some gorgeous antique furniture belonging to Sir RD Sethna was auctioned off in Bremen, Germany in July 2010.

Everyone can't attend auctions of Indian items in European countries but such deals could be waiting for you in your locality, in the homes of elderly neighbours or relatives or your grandparents.

Left and below: Sir RD Sethna's furniture that was auctioned off in Bremen, Germany in July 2010 by the auction house Bolland & Marotz
- People sell furnished homes and move around a lot more these days, and if you don't want something that reflects someone else's taste, then sell it online.

- The death of a loved one necessitates getting rid of things which you may not have space for - so use them to get a garage sale going in your neighbourhood.

Pics source: Bolland & Marotz Auktionshaus Bremen 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Restyling old furniture - Indian or French style!

There are a lot of home furnishing, interior decor and furniture brands sprouting up every day and it can become quite a chore to choose from amongst them all, especially when you secretly prefer your comfortable old-world furniture from your parents or grandparents home.

It's partly because if it is hand-carved wooden furniture, that kind of craftsmanship is hard to find within a reasonable budget. You have to only check out some of these new stores to see the price tags on some of the items, and you know how much you are getting fleeced.

So do the next best thing - in my view this should be option one - offer to buy hand-me-downs in good condition from friends and family, if that is exactly what you are looking for. Even with a little wear and tear, there is still many years of life in these used items of furniture.

See how this old bench was given a vibrant new look with designs stencilled into the wood and then painted over in blue, green, white and red.

Picture source - India Today Home

There is a French art form called decoupage, which means 'cutting out and decorating with paper', and this was something that could be done as a art-craft project at home, to restore old wooden furniture and give it a fresh new look. I've done a tray using this art form. And I know someone whose done over an entire wardrobe in this way. It goes without saying that it looks unique and mind-blowing.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Art and Decor Exhibition at Taj Mahal Hotel

There is an exhibition of furniture, Art, mirrors, crockery, lamps, accessories, soft furnishings, tableware and lots of other items, which have been inspired by European design - notably French and English - aesthetics.

Doing up a home tastefully takes effort and attention to detail. So even if none of the things at this display is within your budget, taking a look around and educating your eye is a good idea.

In fact, judging from the pictures on the invite, a lot of the furniture looks like what we would find in our grandparents home.

So, what you could do is - realise what value it has and start looking after it. Or try and snap it up at a seconds/garage sale, if you happen to come across one. Better still - get your own sale going with friends and family pitching in.

Anyway, this exhibition is on at the Taj Mahal Palace and Towers in Mumbai, in the Gateway Room from September 3-6, 2010. Splurging is at your discretion and provided it ultimately suits the decor of your home.

For more enquiries, call - 9821055574

Sunday, August 15, 2010

At least One Indian Supermart Encourages Recycling

At least one Indian supermarket is thinking of all those juice cartons people buy from them, and what they could do with it, to keep our environment a little more clean and green.

In Mumbai, Sahakari Bhandar has an 'How to dispose Tetra Paks' initiative that encourages consumers to bring back their empty juice cartons and they are offering recycled gifts on the spot.

For 5 cartons returned, you get a recycled pen.
For 7 cartons returned, you get recycled tissues.
For 12 cartons returned, you get a recycled notebook.
Before chucking a carton into a bin - cut it open and wash it.

A pamplet on recycling also educates consumers on diposing off these cartons in their dry trash bins and not a wet garbage bin because then ragpickers get a better price for it.

Want to know what can be made out of your juice carton? Check out this cool bookmark. It feels like it is made out of expensive hand-made paper instead of a used tetra pack.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Sip Tip

Every other day or so, going to a coffee shop to unwind and enjoy rich, creamy coffees is what almost anyone can do these days. With either Cafe Coffee Day or Barista outlets present in every nook and corner, this is a convenience anyone can indulge in.

The teas and coffees are not 'cutting chai' rates obviously, but they are worth the bucks you pay for them. But I have actually noticed something at the Barista I go to often here in Mumbai and you need to watch out for this cheap little trick as well.

I once ordered Triple Sec, which is a mocha with an orange liqueur in it. I never add the sugar without taking a sip to see if it's needed or not because most often it's not really required and, I like the slightly dark and bitter tang of ground beans to hit my taste buds.

This is personal quirk and in this case it proved to be so right. That's because the Triple Sec drink came - and after a quick sip - I realised that something was off. No, they had not spiked it with anything fishy, but I didn't even get a whiff of oranges. So, I had some more of the coffee, and then asked the staff to add the liqueur in because I didn't feel they had put in any, in the first place. This way they had to even top up my coffee while adding in the liqueur, so I got a free refill as well. Also very clearly visible at the bottom of the glass, was a layer of orange liquid that I had not seen there before. Seeing is believing.

They had tried to fool me into paying them for something that they didn't include in my coffee despite them always asking customers, if they wanted any extras like toffee, hazelnut, Irish liqueur, chocolate sauce etc, and for which they charge anywhere between Rs 20-Rs 25 extra.

So do what I did - take the sip test and make sure you get what you ordered because if it is not added in your coffee, it will be surely added in your bill.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Smart Tip for Globetrotters

Travelling is a fun way to get to know geography, history, civics – subjects that are not all that popular (when in school) with most people – but also one can study art, architecture, dance and music – all the cooler stuff as well.

Everyone knows that booking well in advance for a trip results in one getting cheaper fares. But most people discount this fact when they sign up for travel packages with big tour and travel agencies like Kesari, Raj Travels, SOTC, Kuoni, Cox & Kings and Thomas Cook.

The reason being that, they are most likely to be too excited thinking about their holiday and all the shopping they are going to be doing there and besides once the trip has been paid for, the airfare bookings are left to these agencies to take care of.

Here is a smart spending tip: Make your own airline bookings, even when you travel with a tour group. Now, I believe, travel operators also prefer it if you did it yourself. A source at Kesari told me that, “We tell customers to make their own airline bookings through the travel portals.”

Ironically, the offline agencies and their online rivals may have made this pact as a truce of some kind, so that all people don’t just simply migrate to portals and stop using travel operators. Therefore, travel agencies channel some business their way but obviously, not all of it. They keep hotel bookings to themselves, which is where the meat really is.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Celeb Seconds: When Used Stuff is Valuable

Want to know when the odds turn even with used seconds? When they belong to celebrities and the goodies are being auctioned off at twice or thrice their value, especially if the celebrity is dead. Recently, some old photographs of Marilyn Monroe surfaced and people (who can afford to buy it) went crazy bidding for it. This has been the case for every dead celebrity – and pretty soon you’ll see something belonging to Michael Jackson being sold at Christie’s or Sotheby – may be his mask or his trademark glove.

An Indian connection is that Mahatma Gandhi’s belongings were auctioned recently in New York - 248 art items, 2,947 letters, 1,583 pictures, 31 cartoons, 407 documents and 513 publications - and some of it was acquired by Vijay Mallya.

He also recently acquired Tipu Sultan’s sword, which was a very patriotic gesture on his part to keep some of India’s artifacts within the country itself, instead of it all being bought for some private collection abroad.

Abroad celebrity auctions are much more common and a huge industry. Some of the people are so celeb obsessed and who constantly monitor them via their blogs and the various social networking websites, are now hawking their discarded clothes, shoes, jewellery and other assorted items like autographed bottles of wine etc on websites such as this one:

Sometimes, movie stars and sports stars hawk off stuff to benefit their favourite charities or when there is a crisis of some sort on a national or international scale like hurricane relief or war relief work. Then they volunteer to give their time at shelters and man the helplines but this kind of stuff rarely brings the recipients of their charity anything more substantial than their good cheer and goodwill. They certainly won’t be auctioning of their used stuff at a time like this.

But stars have auctioned off more than old things that they have used. They have auctioned off kisses – George Clooney did this and Charlize Theron kissed a woman who bid the highest, for this privilege. Actor Will Ferrell auctioned off a role in a movie! In India, Sachin Tendulkar auctioned off a cricket bat for a charity called Apnalaya. When Michael Jackson came to India during his ‘Dangerous’ tour and stayed at the Oberoi Towers in Mumbai, he left behind a pillowcase on which he had scribbled a few lines and a lot of people were eager to get their hands on it.

Sometimes, things that are up for sale are just bizarre items, such as Scarlett Johansson’s used tissue! Why would even a wealthy lunatic be interested in something like this is beyond reasoning.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Big Brands don’t Reward their Spendthrift Clientele

The urge to splurge has been tapped into by many B2C (business-to-consumer) businesses. Loyalty programs keep the regular clientele of stores coming back for more. It works well for both parties – the people who love to shop till they drop and obviously, the stores themselves.

Here are some statistics: 76% of US retailers and 75% of US shoppers are engaged in loyalty programs. In India, Shoppers Stop claims more than 60% of sales are from loyalty members. Subhiksha claims 80% of sales comes from loyalty members – so why did they shut shop recently, having gone bankrupt, is the big question.

After all, putting together reward/loyalty programs takes effort and time but if your merchandise is of an inferior quality or despite the discount the membership card entitles you to, they seem steeply priced in comparison to items sourced by a rival store, then smart shoppers are going to ditch the reward membership card. For eg: At Lifestyle, a pair of khaki shorts is priced at an outrageous Rs 800 while I’ve picked up full length formal trousers in a wrinkle-free cotton-satin fabric, for the same amount at Westside, two years ago.

Here quality was not an issue but who is going to pay Rs 800 for a truncated pair of pants? Maybe Lifestyle’s reward card – Inner Circle – members really don’t care about the price factor at all and just want to be seen with Lifestyle’s shopping bags rather than say, Westside or Pantaloons. But for my money, I’d rather buy full-length khaki trousers and wear them for a few years and then crop them into shorts eventually, which is what I’ve done in the past. I’ve used the same tactic, as probably have many others, with any pair of jeans that was too faded or worn out to wear outdoors but just comfortable enough to wear at home.