'These Are The Guys Who Are Kicking Our Ass?' : Planet Money Internet commerce via the East India company.

'These Are The Guys Who Are Kicking Our Ass?'

A package from India. Tom O'Brien hide caption

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Tom O'Brien

After hearing our recent stories on India's economy, Planet Money listener Tom O'Brien sent us this picture, and the story that goes with it.

He writes:

About four years ago I had a checkerboard but no chess pieces.

So I went on eBay and ordered, from the Yiperoo company in Varanasi, India, a set of hand-carved chess pieces.

The packaging is rough-woven cloth, hand stitched, including the shipping information sewn on.

That red stuff on the seams: sealing wax. Originally it had the odor of grass, which tells me that the packing material is not bubble wrap.  The package is so amazing that I never opened it.

India Package Front
Tom O'Brien

It is an artifact that’s hard to fathom, Internet commerce by way of the East India Company.  My very first thought when I saw this was, “These are the guys who are kicking our ass?”

I have to admit, I wanted chess pieces, but I don’t play chess. You can’t get lucky playing chess. The package itself is more interesting than what I know of its contents. I occasionally wonder what other amusement would be had from the innards of the thing, but I doubt I’ll ever know.