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.