11.27.2007

Well, a fake Jamaican took every last dime with that scam; It was worth it just to learn from sleight-of-hand

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%.

5 comments:

Ayesha said...

Last Night when I read this entry and the thought of hot savoury Halwa Puri under a wedding tent along with Kashmiri chai, made my desi heart go nuts. It craved so bad that I got up, made myself some Halwa Puri and Channay in the next half hour and ate it to heart's desire.

boy they were good! Alas I don't know how to make kashmiri chai- But you have a tried and tested recipe, i would love that. Yes, PAITOO we are. Just ask yasmine when she come visit you, our conversations with flickr buddies start with food and end with food too.

God Bless you for this yummy post.

yasmine said...

haha ayesha, i LOWVE that you got up and MADE yourself food based on baji's post! that's hella awesome, and hilarious.

here's a kashmiri chai recipe, thanks to our fellow paitu flickr buddies.

baji, my dad is just like your dad when it comes to negotiations. if he doesn't get something for the price he wants, he just walks away. so nonchalantly, too, which infuriated me to no end when he used the same tactic in helping me buy a car. AHHHH. but it worked!

sadly, i have not inherited his bargaining skills.

this made me laugh:
LB and I have caveman-level speaking skills in Urdu, so we were pretty much lumped into the same category.

LOVING the post titles on these travelogues, baji!

Anjum (barsaat) said...

excellent tips! though i gotta say, having been on the receiving end of these "fun little negotiations," it is SO not fun. more like a hassle-and-a-half.

PS - i told yasminay to give you and your tummy and zp a big hug for me :)

DeOwl said...

I don't have the heart to really bargain. First world guilt complex. But if I can tell they're shamelessly trying to take me for a ride, I do walk away. But not to return. I keep walking till I find a shopkeeper who's asking price isn't insulting.

baj said...

ayesha - aw man, you should have invited me over! sounds like a delicious late night treat. :)

yaz - glad ye like the post titles! they are all from songs - i was thinking of holding a contest to see who, if anyone, could name the song from the lyrics provided. but then i didn't.

anj - you used to be a street vendor in pakistan?! (interroshock!) why is this information not displayed on your 'about me' page? also, thx for the hugs!

owl - ditto. sometimes i try to use my jedi mind tricks on them, but in the end, i do the same.