Certifiable Test Case

Confused employee wading through Nerd Nirvana

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Location: Hyderabad, AP, India

Program Manager Microsoft IT India

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Ritchie Rich!!!

Went to Ritchie Street today to buy components for my Digital project.

Ritchie Street is a dingy little hellhole of a lane on both sides of which are stacked electronics shops. The place is a Mecca for an ardent techie: the shops on this road are not just present – they are piled up one on the other – all of them dealing in the same electronics goods, trying to cut each other’s throats and loot the unwary customer.

You have to see it to believe it.

The SMS Man and me went across this labyrinth of streets, designed only to fit a finite number of human beings, and whose inhabitants and visitors don’t give a damn about this all-important boundary condition.

We went to this cubbyhole in the wall whose signpost depicted a defunct integrated circuit, and asked the surly guy behind the counter “Do you sell IC’s?”

Pat came the reply: “What number?” This question is only to separate the cognoscenti from the casual browser who wastes the shopkeeper’s time.

We gave him the number. He stroked his beard and ruminated for a while. And then parted his mouth just a bit, and said “Try this shop in Narasinghapuram Street!”. And shooed us out.

We went there. You must excuse us, because our enthu was quite high at this point.

It turned out that that cubbyhole did not have one particular IC that we needed. However the guy over here was so gratuitously helpful, he had phoned a dozen merchants (no doubt somewhere along the pile) and had promptly ascertained that none of them had that chip either.

But you have to give these guys the networking award. If my friends can’t service the customer, send him to my enemies seems to be their motto! And so we went on a fresh round of treading the tired concrete.

The phrase daylight robbery seems inadequate to describe this place! IC’s, which cost negligibly low amounts to make, are being sold at markups that are as high as 1000 %. Seriously. One vendor informed us with a very sympathetic and grave face that the only piece that he had in IC 7483 class was extremely rare in the market, and hence its price had gone up to Rs. 50. And he said it with the ease of the practiced liar, unmindful that he would lose a client.

What prompted this audacity, even in face of such competition, was, of course, collusion. All of them seem determined to keep the prices high, and to keep the customers running, hoping, of course, that fatigue will drive them down to make their purchases in at least one of the shops. Where they actually do, depends on the vagaries of global position, something the dealers of Ritchie Street take in their stride.

Because, of course, the profits are worth it!!

Someday, I will be rich. And mayhap, I shall owe my status to this street. All it requires is some grit and an utter lack of moral scruples.

We spent two and a half hours in this human maze with a population density greater than that of New York City, and when we came out we had two IC’s worth Rs. 24 to show for our efforts!!

All in the life of your average colleger!!!!!