Day Seven: Isloo
A cold/flu swept through our family and thus delayed our Taxilla plans. We did, however, have enough energy for another shopping outing at the Nomad Art Gallery (prized for its fixed-price arts and crafts) and Supermarket (prized for its bargain-friendly goods). It was instructional, as always, to observe the various negotiating tactics of our family members. TP and KG were clearly outsiders and thus were not permitted to purchase items directly because they would likely be hosed. LB and I have caveman-level speaking skills in Urdu, so we were pretty much lumped into the same category. Therefore, we silently browsed, poked around, and handled everything and once something caught our interest, we walked away. We notified our host shopper of our desires. And then the native host shopper took over. The bargaining strategy commenced in one of three ways:
*Diplomacy - my aunt favored this tact and would use a combination of logic, persuasion, and patriotism to get a good deal.
*Supply-and-demand - my father would approach the first vendor, name his price, and when the vendor didn't immediately concede, he would put the item down and stroll over to the neighboring vendor selling the identical stuff and possibly the next until someone got wise and gave him what he wanted at the price he wanted.
*Bossy boots - my cousin employed all of her decades of shopping experiences to bully the salesperson into complying with her demands. She would gather the items, engage in a brief negotiation, and once the clerk bagged the items, she gathered our stuff and laid the smack down, tossed the money she thought was sufficient to cover the price on the counter, and strutted away from the pleading merchant and out of the shop in a flurry of meaningless agreements, head-shaking, and dismissive hand-waving. Worked like a charm every time.
It always cracks me up at how I wouldn't blink at paying $30 for a beautiful, hand-made embroidered pillow cushion in the U.S., but I balk at paying more than $3 for the same thing in Pakistan.
Alas, brought down by body-aches and sniffles, we cut our shopping trip early and returned home for lunch and rest before attending my cousin's nikkah. Under the tents, we were served halva puri - a mouth-watering melange of sweet halva (cream of wheat), spicy chanay (chick peas), and hot, puffy puris (light-as-air flat bread). We washed this down with the delicious pink Kashmiri Chai which, with its salt, cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, almonds, and pistachios, was practically a meal in itself.
Lesson of the Day: It's difficult for a salesperson to resist money out in the open, ready to hand over if only the price was reduced by 50%.