In the seventies hardly any imported items were available in Chennai. There was the Burma Bazaar lined with a number of shops. mostly selling spurious stuff. The bazaar was largely dependent upon the M.V. Chidambaram which made fortnightly trips between Chennai and Singapore. And the "kuruvis" who boarded the ship.
The British Council Library and consulate used to auction their used stuff like furniture, air-conditioners, copiers, appliances and what have you.
These auctions were held with much fan-fare and there used to be huge crowds. Items were sold at exorbitant prices.
We visited one of these auctions to watch the fun. While the auction was going on, one person edged towards me and said that he had a sore throat and asked me to bid on his behalf. Twice I raised the bid on his behalf. Then he asked me: What is the item that is being auctioned? OMG!
I stopped my madness.
I looked around. He had quitely slipped without bidding farewell.