Fahim and I went out today.
We went to Pettah market to buy elephant hats.
The somewhat short-ish version of the story is that I started using the elephant hat my sister and brother-in-law got me as a writing hat. And in the July BIW, it helped me write 210 pages in a novel in one week – huge accomplishment!
So I told my writing groups about the hat, and there was such a furor over the hat, and people wanting it, that in the writing group I co-moderate, I put up elephant hats as a reward for our challenges. And people wanted them. Oh, did they want them!
So I have a firm order for four, and since there’s probably going to be at least one more who wants it, I got five.
Yep, that’s right, five elephant hats.
So we go to Pettah, find a stall with the right kind of leather elephant stuff, and ask for hats. It took a while before they finally bring us the right elephant hats, and then they demand Rs. 1850. Kim and Dru paid Rs. 500, so they’re probably worth half that, but they’ll never let white people get the price down as low as it should go. No, they refuse. There is so definitely one price range of prices for foreigners, and another for locals.
Anyway, Fahim bargains the seller down from Rs.1850 to Rs.480 (the hats were worth Rs. 300-400 each, according to Mervyn, our trishaw driver). I was the one who wanted them, and I was ready to walk off, which is, of course, the only way to bargain. You have to be prepared to walk away, and more importantly, you actually have to do that, or they’ll gouge gouge gouge.
The first time we walked away, we told them that our friends had paid Rs. 300, and they were demanding Rs. 1850 and wouldn’t go any lower. Look at the craftsmanship! Obviously the hat your friends got wasn’t as good. No, no, it’s the exact same hat. No differences. No, it can’t be. We couldn’t possibly go below Rs. 1850 – we’d be bankrupted.
Walk away. What’s your highest price? Your absolute highest price? Fahim tells them he could go as high as Rs. 400. No, no, be fair, man, what’s your absolutely highest price? We could go as low as Rs. 600. That’s a fair price.
No budging. We walk away. We get about ten or fifteen feet, they stop us. No, no, what’s your absolute highest price? We told you, Rs. 400. No, no, that’s highway robbery. We’re poor. We can sell this to you for as low as Rs. 600. We tell them no, we know it’s not worth that, we’re not going to pay that, and we walk away. I tell Fahim maybe we should just look for the tshirt I need. We get to the end of the alleyway. No, no, what’s your maximum? We can go as low as Rs. 600.
We ended up offering Rs. 450, and they asked for Rs. 480 per. We took it.
If Fahim had been by himself, it would have been different. . . White chic, high prices. Ya know?
Then we go home, and even though I brought water with us (with a packet of hydration salts mixed in), I started getting, what, heatstroke? Migraine? Same thing. Ran out of water, and usually 1 liter is enough for a couple of hours. Had to get Fahim to buy water for me on the way home, and coke, too, for the caffeine. Took my magic pill combination, came home, and zonked in the bedroom with air conditioning.
And I have zero sense of time. I thought I was up there for an hour at least – I managed to read 60 pages or so – but according to my watch, it was only ten minutes. How is that possible? Am I in some kind of a time warp or something?
Or maybe it’s the migraine affecting my ability to tell time again.
I don’t know.
If I’m actually not typing in anything resembling an actual language, I’m sorry. That sometimes happens with migraines, too.