Friday, 19 October 2012

In India I Normally Stand Outside

When my wife shops in India I normally stand outside the shop and let her get on with it. This is because shopping in India (or indeed anywhere with a bazaar) involves a lot of negotiation and hard bargaining.  She loves to haggle and I think is genuinely good at it - I don't and I'm not.  I remember on one occasion she gave a cigarette to the shop keeper just so he would at least get that from the sale!  But now I find myself trying to do this on my own and not doing very well.  Outside the S.S.Hogg Market there are entire squadrons of men who try to guide you to certain shops and they can be very persistent indeed.  Once they were shaken off though, I was free to roam this amazing place and spend a happy hour or so just enjoying the hustle and bustle of it all.  I think if you tried, you could find almost anything here.  Clothes and foodstuffs are main items but it is no way limited to just that.  Eventually I sidled up to a shop selling paintings and curios hoping to find a painting to take home, but unfortunately the majority of the items for sale are the ubiquitous Mogul style works from Rajasthan or garish Batiks.  I found something interesting in the form of a folding sheet of bamboo slices which the vendor assured me was done by charring the design into the surface and then colouring.  "Very nice" I said, but it was only when I looked very closely that I saw it was in fact drawn in Biro and then coloured in crayon.  Not what I was looking for.  So I have now given up the idea of buying more Indian art, which is probably not too bad a thing as we do have a lot already.  If I had the patience and negotiation skills of my better half I might have continued but I would rather go and drink a chai.
This afternoon I will be spending some time disassembling my bike and preparing it for the flight tonight. Then dinner and a beer with the last of my Rupees before the taxi man arrives at 23.00.  We should be at the airport at midnight even though I fly at 04.20.  But I am sure that trying to get my abnormal luggage on the plane will take time and involve a lot of negotiation and hard bargaining.

S.S.Hogg Market, Kolkata.

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