The Style Stamp, a page on Facebook, is full of interesting items and information posted by people connected to the fashion industry. It could be anything, a photograph of a ceramic tile from Morocco or a cleverly designed, space saving handbag holder. You could find a make-up artist here or a personal trainer, trousseau designer, or even vintage rugs, fine china and graphic art. It’s a competent curation of eclectic stuff to browse through, of random knick-knacks presented in no particular order. Something like wandering around Chor Bazaar in Mumbai or a flea market; you never know what you might find. Once a week, sellers are allowed to put up two photographs of their products with the price (mandatory).
People interested can call the seller directly.
This is not Flipkart or Amazon, guaranteeing same day deliveries or a 30-day return policy. Still, The Style Stamp has a formidable 43,000 members. Though most of the transactions appear to be successful, these are very small players in business whose operations are based on that very loaded word: trust. Recently, a retailer had posted an image of a WhatsApp exchange with a client who fleeced him of Rs 5,000. The caption went, “Why do people behave like this?” In the conversation, he had repeatedly asked for his money after delivery, to no avail. Even the threat of outing him on Facebook wasn’t a deterrent. Said human seemed unperturbed that his face and name will be etched forever in the memory of all who saw that post. For what it’s worth, the seller got a lot of sympathy from other members who clearly had some experience getting gypped themselves. Write it off and move on, went one comment. Think of it as charity, consoled another.
It’s not just the big scams that plague our country. Business functions in an atmosphere of suspicion and wariness, irrespective of whether it’s a kirana dukaan or a real estate fund. The ever looming threat of layoffs and financial insecurity have turned us into a nation of unscrupulous opportunists who simply can’t pass up a chance to make a quick buck off each other. In the absence of effective legal recourse, every small entrepreneur seems to philosophically accept he’ll get scammed at least once and knows he needs to stay vigilant till his dying day. There is a serious trust deficit in India at every level. Citizens don’t trust the country’s leadership and people of different faiths don’t trust each other. Going by the alarming number of news reports of doctors getting beaten up, it appears we’ve lost faith in medical professionals as well. The police, even the media, are viewed with misgiving. The only institution which still retains a modicum of respect among the common man in India is the Army. That’s it. In the current scenario it has become impossible to believe in someone or something, further feeding our collective anxiety that the world might be contriving to deny us our due.
The unorganised catering industry is a terrific example of how little we trust our fellow human beings. In many of Delhi’s party halls and farms, rented for weddings and big functions, the food will simply not appear until the full and final payment has been cleared. It’s the unwritten rule in food operations, outside of restaurants and hotels. If they don’t do that, a caterer told me, the minute the guests leave, the host starts cribbing about the buffet and tries to renegotiate his balance amount. This is the sad order of things as they stand right now. Trust is a very elusive concept, once lost, hard to regain. The absence of it means a miserable existence of constantly looking over your shoulder for the proverbial stab in the back.