This article belongs to Sweet Grace column.

         I don't know about your country but in my India and in my Metropolitan city in particular, I am totally  disenchanted with the services provided by various tradesmen, such as plumbers, signboard writers, shoe repairers, tailors and so on. It's equally  unfortunate that we cannot live without them;  you would need  one or the other  of these guys some time or the other.

         The only good thing  I could certify about them is, they welcome you warmly,  talk to you  pleasantly and invariably promise the Moon.


         Quite impressed by his pep talk, I explained to him how exactly I wanted my signboard prepared. He gave a nice smile and  said, "Sure sir,  shall give you the sample.  by tomorrow. You wanted 5 such boards, eh?  Yes, tomorrow by 11.30 a.m." He went his way after collecting a fairly heavy advance. ‘Tomorrow' dawned and there was no sign of the great artist either. I caught him right at his shop on the 5th day.   Instead of apologizing, the fellow said cheekily, "Sir, you are in too much of a hurry.  We are busy people., you know?"


          "I have no time for you young man.  Please return my advance."  Presto.   He  did refund the heavy advance happily without a murmur.  I was a little surprised.  These  advance takers would seldom give back  the money but this  artisan… well…? "Thank you very much," I  said and approached the next fellow, who said that he was too busy to take up any additional work and directed me to the next painter. This third craftsman accepted the order and promised to deliver the material within 2 days.  Alas!   I received my 5 boards after 5 trips to his shop over  5 days.  Lousy fellows !


           Couldn't they  be  a little more reliable?


           Then one day I had  to summon the plumber.  He lived in some kind of a ‘hole' some ten streets away. This is a job when the tradesman has to come to your house and not the  other way round.  That's where the trouble was.  Luckily this fellow had a cell phone and it was easy for me to contact him instead of walking over to his abode.  "Certainly sir.  This afternoon…"  Two afternoons had passed by and he had become incommunicado. Often his cell was found switched off. Meantime, we had de-watered our bathroom three times or more.  On the fourth day, he turned up leisurely.  There was no hurry in his  steps and attitude and his mouth seemed shut as well.  He talked only  through hand movements. I took him to the bathroom and pointed at the water leak. He  was an efficient tradesman  all right and stopped the leak just like that.  He wouldn't allow me to talk and displayed his fees with his fingers.  I paid him and he was off without a word. He is a silent worker.


          My next encounter was with a tailor.  Tailors are tricky persons.  My experience was that their delivery schedule is  always uncertain.  They would make you walk to his shop possibly half a dozen times before they finally handover he finished stuff.  So, whenever I need my new shirt and pants for a particular occasion, I leave a margin of 15 days and usually  my calculation would turn out to be correct.


           But I met a fast guy who promised to make my summer wear by the same evening. It was a shock to me.  "What? Within 8 hours?" Don't be a fool?" I had nearly dubbed him.  I didn't take him seriously at all nor did I trust  his word.  Since I had  followed my 15 day rule, I passed the raw material  to him  quietly.


           Later that afternoon,  wifey prompted me to see the tailor.  "Don't be silly, dear. You think he will produce my shirt and  pants  this evening?  Impossible…!"


           However, at her insistence I went to his shop around dusk.  Greeting me with a large grin he conveyed, "You are an hour late sir.  Your dress was ready at 5 p.m. itself."


           "What?  Ready?  Show it to me …"


           The young tailor displayed it right before my eyes and directed  me into his trial room.  The darned thing  fitted me perfectly.  Couldn't find any fault in the stitching work. Great, I said and gave him an extra ten rupee note out of sheer delight.


            Feeling that he  certainly deserved some sales promotion, .I recommended this  fast working tailor to a number of my friends especially to Vincent who is a stickler for smartness and perfection.


            A week later I asked  Vincent what he thought of the wizard. Vincent shook his head and said, "I say, to be frank, I didn't  hire  your wonder tailor at all…"


            "Why?" I asked interrupting him.  His answer knocked me down flat.  "I say, a tailor who readies  your dress in 8 hours time, can't be a good tailor, can he?"