Postage and packing
But those strings of mixed chalcedony I mentioned in the last post but one were so cute, and so cheap, that I just had to order a couple*.
And, because I delude myself that somebody, somewhere, reads this blog for the sole purpose of establishing which mail order companies are worth doing business with, I thought I ought to recount my experiences with Exotic India. (That's Exotic India Art dot com, obviously. Wouldn't want you running away with the notion that I might have been spending the last week in an ashram, signally failing to achieve the lotus position.)
Well. Blimey. I placed the order on Christmas Eve, it was shipped on Boxing Day, and it was delivered last Friday afternoon. Now, ok, I don't imagine for a moment that India grinds to a halt over Christmas like the UK does. But I still think four days is a pretty damn' impressive delivery time.
But that's not the half of it.
Cheery UPS chap hands me a heavy, rectangular package. I am confused. I am expecting a handful of beads. Beads usually arrive in little ziplock plastic bags inside quilted (or "padded", if you prefer) envelopes.
I carry the package upstairs and attack the copious swathes of Sellotape (or generic equivalent thereof) with a pair of scissors. This allows me to open the box. Whereupon I find that this was only the outer box. Inside the outer box are something square wrapped in green holographic foil paper; a greeting card; and some lengths of polystyrene which have been carefully added to prevent the contents from being damaged in transit.
So I take the green paper off, and lo! It was wrapping a square jewellery box, beautifully and painstakingly hand-painted in shades of gold and peacock blue. Inside which, in a safe cocoon of cotton wool, are nestling my few strings of chalcedony sweeties.
Now, if there's something on the Exotic India website which makes it explicit that even the smallest bead order will arrive in its own jewellery box, then I have yet to spot it. I do almost all my shopping online, and I can honestly say that I have never received anything so exquisitely packaged from a company before. (Individual artisans selling through Etsy, yes: big business, no.)
So I have no hesitation at all in recommending that you rush to the website at once and order whatever you like the look of. (I've just checked, and there are still two strings of the pretty mixed chalcedony left.) You'll have to be fairly quick if you want to catch the 25% discount, though, because that ends at midnight tonight, India time. Sorry. I would have written this earlier, but I've been feeling distinctly under the weather of late.