Samsonite Guarantee – Indian Style – the beauty of “jugaad”
I bought the “best”
I bought the Hard Shell Samsonite. The no-frills, ‘get-the-job-done’ tough guy suitcase. You’ve seen them on the carrousels before: simple plastic; one color; wheels and a handle. I have broken plenty of “life-time guarantee” suitcases in my years of international travel, and could never quite locate the right shop to actually FIX the things when they broke. So this time I went to the top: Samsonite! Is there another name in luggage that outshines this one?! I bought my “Hard Shell” and happily received my 10-year warranty. Cool.
But not good enough
Then it happened: the telescoping handle got ripped right out of the back of my Hard Shell. I can only imagine how it happened: Bruno the luggage handler, having perfected the suitcase-toss, saw that shiny handle and couldn’t resist. He jerked it up off the ground and started spinning. Nothing broke; so, a bit disappointed, Bruno started slamming the thing against the tractor. “Oh shoot!” he said, “I didn’t realize this was a Samsonite! No wonder it ain’t crackin’” Refusing to be thwarted in his passion for destruction (why else would he take the job of luggage [mis]-handler?), he extended the telescoping handle on my Hard Shell, laid it down on the tarmac, and backed his tractor right over it. “Yeah!” He shouts, “I knew those Samsonites were no good!” By the way, this assuredly took place at London-Heathrow, not at New Delhi!
Anyway, after retrieving my wounded hard shell, I decided to take it to the Samsonite shop here in my North Indian city.
“Hey, I have a broken Samsonite, and I still have my warranty with me! How cool to find you here in my city! Can you replace this for me?”
“Well, sorry sir, I cannot. But I can take a handle off of a similar used one, and we can screw that one onto your Hard Shell.”
So we set out, together, working on that thing. I even ran to a hardware store nearby and bought some epoxy glue so that, when we began to screw the new handle in, I could make it even more “Bruno-proof” by gluing the handle all along the back of my suitcase.
The local Samsonite rep was so eager, so willing, and so helpful. The warranty turned out – once again – to be a non-factor (not sure I understand what ‘warranty’ means anymore), but the new-used handle fit perfectly, the screws went nicely into the holes, and the added glue (a bit amusing to my new Samsonite friend) will certainly extend the life of “old faithful”.
One thing you’ve got to love about India: there will almost ALWAYS be a way to make an adjustment, to make things work, to wrestle up a solution to whatever you might face. I think Indians have been doing this for generations, and they don’t seem to get frustrated or intimidated by these kinds of hurdles (which are normally seen by Westerners as “closed doors” or “dead ends”). I’ll admit, sometimes the “jerry-rig” approach strikes me as a terrible solution! But most of the time, this calm confidence that “we can make it work”, turns out to be rather successful. Some would use the Hindi word “jugaad” (जुगाड़) to describe this characteristic I’m talking about. Jugaad literally means an “improvised arrangement or work-around, which has to be used because of lack of resources”.
But be careful! Many of my friends here are not fans of the jugaad solutions! They use that word to describe half-baked, short-term, guaranteed-to-fail solutions also!
What do you think? Any experiences with “jugaad” you’d like to share?