Category: View Point

Street Shopping, A Bargainer’s Delight!

A friend, who had come down to Mumbai on a short visit from the United States, was very keen on shopping. She had a day in hand. Her idea of owning ‘a party-wear salwaar kameez( Indian dress), fancy bangles, and mouth watering chaats (Indian snacks) ’, made me select a mall in the vicinity that had all ‘possible brands, cleanliness, and cool environment to beat the heat’.

Surprisingly, she made a humble request to go “street shopping” instead. Wow! Now, for someone who likes to wander, wonder and wriggle through the crowd of fellow wanderers by the roadside, the experience at street markets like Linking Road (Bandra West) and Fashion Street (South Mumbai, near Churchgate) is joie de vivre. Clothes, bags, accessories, sandals, including the latest fashion trends – you just have to name it.

What is even more enticing is the price quoted for the products. In ordinary words, the look-alike of any branded clothes come at half its price. “So cheap, you see!” She was overjoyed. Within minutes she was busy scouting for her goods. And with every shop she stopped by, she was gaining confidence in bargaining. At a point she mentioned “how much she enjoyed persuading and convincing.” It was a surprise indeed.

Of course, bargaining is a skill that comes with practice. In fact, I see it as a tool of communication. Here, the seller and the buyer both are aware of the rules of bargaining. Each has adorned their persuading and influencing skills to the finest. However, some of the buyers are so convincing with their reasoning that, the stall owner gives up ultimately.

Apparently, some of these stalls have a regular customer relationship. Yet, the shoppers/customers bargain and the shopkeeper/seller hands over the goods, saying “sirf aap ke liye” (only for you). But those shops/stalls that don’t encourage bargaining make their position clear with a ‘Fixed Rate’ board.

Well, there are interesting tips on bargaining pointed out by many like-minded bargainers on the World Wide Web. However, not many of us are good at bargaining. When it comes to the “real” thing, we oblige the sellers blindly. As for my friend, her happy hours in Mumbai were a dream come true, and with the “savings” she bought food and shared it with an elderly destitute.

Cornering Corn

We ambled along the shore enjoying the music that played from an unknown corner, on a Sunday evening. People had thronged from near and far. The food stalls, ice-cream carts, fancy balloons and colourful toys were welcoming the strangers enthusiastically. Not to forget the nariyal paani (coconut water) and the bhutta (roasted corn).

A typical scene. Beaches around Mumbai have a familiar pattern. Interestingly, the beaches in India  seem to be picking up similar patterns. Yet, bhutta-wallahs (roasted corn vendors) in Mumbai have an exceptional flavour, probably it is their unique selling point.

They roast the corn on smouldering coal. Once the kernels change colour to a deeper shade with scatters of burnt black here and there, the bhutta-wallah removes it from the coal.  With a wedge of lemon, s/he smears the masalas, chili powder and salt to taste, as per our requirement.

A bite into the roasted corn stirs the palate with an array of flavours, and surprisingly the kernels are fresh and juicy. It is a wonder that, in spite of going through a process of fire and burns, the corn oozes the freshness as if it were untouched!

We continued our walk along the beach relaxing to the Nature’s treat and savouring the delicious corn. Somewhere, deep down, my heart was thanking the unknown person who had stumbled upon the recipe of a perfect bhutta.

Magic of Cubes, A Puzzle!

Rubik's Cube

Age has never dampened the spirit of heart while playing games. Instead the child in us awakens to competitive spirit and winning. As I am writing this blog, I can see my husband thinking and working his hands on the Rubik’s cube. I should say, like the many others around the world, we have succumbed to the magic of cubes; and often find ourselves drawing patterns to solve the puzzle!

Indeed, it appears to be a simple colourful cube with coloured stickers of red, blue, yellow, green, orange and white that waits to be twisted, turned and configured into same-colour combination on each side.

The moment we lay our hands on it, our minds surrender to its puzzling mishmash. When least expecting, we are rewarded with the perfect cubic arrangement too. However, we have still not managed to find “how we got it correct”.

The story of Rubik’s cube began with Erno Rubik’s 1974 invention of “a working model to help explain three-dimensional geometry.” A work of art, the mobile sculpture was thought of as a symbol of ‘stark contrasts of human conditions such as simplicity, complexity, stability and dynamism’.

Eventually, this professor of architecture in Budapest (Hungary) managed to solve the Cube for himself in well over a month’s time. Amazingly, these magic cubes have become one of the world’s best selling toys.

Solving puzzles are the most addictive games and mental exercises that have remained stable in our life. From playing scrabble to chess, bubble-shooter to bridge games, there is an assortment of mind games. Little wonder then, to find a Rubik’s cube making its way not only to a child’s toy collection but also to the office recreation.

Way to Good Life

Parched leaves had gathered the verandah. The house had been abandoned for reasons well known to the owners. Neighbours informed that vastu dosha (defects/deficiency in the house) was the reason for its abandonment. I could not believe my ears! A beautiful bungalow with no occupants; it’s unfortunate.

It is a conventional practice to consult a Vastu expert before laying down the foundation of the house, and going ahead with the laid-plan. Along with it, the desire to have a problem-free, safe and secure life with opportunity to wealth, success, and property, we human beings can never stop short of demands and means to fulfil the demands.

Vastu Shastra is considered a science of architecture and construction. An ancient practice said to have originated from India, Vastu Shastra unifies “science, art, astronomy, and astrology”. In simple terms, it is a science of “directions and elements of nature” in relation to man.

Unlike the step-by-step methodical popular books on ‘how to win friends’, ‘awakening the subconscious to gain success’, ‘positive thinking’, ‘social and emotional intelligence’, the alternative methods to good life takes a cue from age-old practices revived to the modern needs.

With a growing number of advertisements offering alternative means to good life, it becomes a matter of concern as to the authenticity of the approach. Of course, conventionally an alternative practitioner believes in word-of-mouth communication even today. The majority but prefer to brand building and latest media networks.

The beliefs are purely individualistic. And am sure we have referred to one of these means such as, astrology, numerology, Tarot Reading, at some point in life. Yet, when someone had recommended that I should add a few extra alphabets to my name for “growth and prosperity”, I declined.