Friday, February 20, 2009

So long. And sorry for all the haggling.

'T-shirt ka 200 rupees madam'
'200 rupees? Kya baat kar rahe ho'
'Quality dheko madam, whole market me just single piece. Designer item hai madam'
'150 last, bas dena hai ke nahi bolo?'
'Nahi, bola na 150'
'madam 170,
'Nahi, 160, jaldi bolo, late ho raha hai'
Okay madam, le lo, 160'


I've grown up believing bargaining to be a time-honoured tradition. We (my friends, my mother, aunts and I) often take pride in admitting to who haggles the best. 'What kind of lousy shopper are you, giving the vendor whatever he asks for', my friends and I would scream at the non-haggler in our group. The best one would find herself invited to important flea-market shopping sprees.

I have bargained everywhere, for everything possible. And in every language – the polite Hindi, the rude Hindi, Bengali, English, English with Tamil accent, English with Punjabi accent and in pitiable Tamil. And I have also mastered, what I call the smart haggler attitude(s). Now, this is a tricky one, you got to decide on your attitude only after you have selected your shopkeeper. And no, you never feel bad for the shopkeeper. Look at it this way, if he is ready to sell a 450 Rupees skirt for 130 Rupees, he is certainly making a good profit. Now, about the attitude(s) – there's a 'Not interested but I'll buy it if I get it at my price' attitude, then there's an 'Interested but I'll buy it if I get it at my price' attitude, then the most common one 'Look I'm interested you're interested may the best man' win attitude.

Appreciation for a good bargain is one thing, being fanatic about it is quite another. Someone I know bargains so bad that she never goes to a shop twice. Lest she is booed at or chased away. I haven't been that bad, but bad nonetheless. None of these any more, it's time for redemption.

I have spent a thousand rupees on a flimsy pair of slippers, just for that swoosh. I have spent two hundred rupees on a bar of soap for its sleek packaging. I have spent a couple of hundreds for 100 ml of moisturizer, that promises me lavender. And even more on stuff that I never wore.

So, to all Bhaias and Unclejis of Atta market, Sarojni Nagar, Janpath, New market, Park Street, T Nagar, Beasant Nagar, Ooty Mall Road, Lokhandwala, Bandra, General Bazaar, MG Road, Brigade Road and the rest... I am sorry.


  1. i would argue that if a person spends a couple of years in a monastery i.e. shielded from the incessant image building and image bombardment, and if an article is presented without all the context (like price and visual merchandising) - he would fail to distinguish between two things that are priced at 9x and 4X , assuming something priced at X meets the requirements

  2. Why only shopping on the roadside, we like bargaining for everything. Even the aw-it's-so-cheap-to-bargain-for-20-rupees types are seen bargaining for hikes, for a favor from their kids, for retaining their maids. Bargaining started from time immemorial. Remember Mahabharata?

  3. Enjoyed reading some posts on your blog thoroughly. Wrt to the haggling bit, some folks are just destined not to succeed at haggling. The shopkeeper looks at em, and just gives the hint, "there's no way i'm reducing the price for you dud". I belong to that category. :D

  4. loved this one....u missed bandra though!!