Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Catching up part 3

I have been meaning to get this up for a long time. It's come up in a few conversations recently so I guess it's time. I went to India in March of 2006 to train some Dell employees. These are entries from my journal while I was there. Previous posts: Part 1, Part 2

Thursday, March 9, 2006
10:30 - 3 pm
Emporium, shopping

I hired a driver to take me out souvenir hunting. Half day excursions cost Rs. 825, all day 1200. Rupees are about 44 to the dollar, so 100 rupees is just over 2 dollars, 1000 rupees is about 23 bucks. The first place was an emporium, specializing in India handcrafts. Surprisingly this would be the only such store I would get to see the whole trip. Had I known this I may have bought more items. The store clerk was very helpful and spoke English well. The woven silk pieces were really beautiful. From large and small tablecloths to pillow cases to place mats, it was difficult to choose just a couple items. Along with a carved elephant, I chose a violet pillow case with peacocks and elephants in the design and a blue table runner.

Now, I had been told that prices were negotiable everywhere, not to settle for the price tag or the quoted price in both online research and from a local at Dell. The total of my items came 1440 rupees, or about 33 bucks. Pretty cheap, but I was going to try my hand at bargaining. I offered 800 rupees for everything. The guy looked at me funny and said, “I don’t understand.” He again added up the total and said it again 1440. This guy’s pretty good, I thought. I repeated my offer and after a bit of the same upped my offer to 1000. He then politely but firmly informed me that this was a different kind of store. The price here is the price you pay. Some markets will not even have a price - those are the ones to bargain with. Not here. You can see the price clearly on the item, and you can pay it or you can leave. I had insulted him and I felt bad. Or else he was REALLY good. So I smiled and said do you take American Express?

My driver and me.

The taxi driver and the hotel doorman. They were all smiles until it was time for a photo.

After a little more shopping at a mall, my driver and I had lunch at Paradise Biryani, “the best place in town” for biryani, a rice, herb, spice dish served with lamb, chicken, or veg. We washed our hands and sat down upstairs inside. It was better to be inside than outside, my driver said, but I’m not sure why. His English was better than my Hindu or Telugu (which is nil), but not too great, so many of our exchanges ended in confusion. We had lamb biryani and ate with our fingers, me following his lead. Silverware was provided, but traditionally meals are eaten with the fingers. This was the only time on the trip where I saw it, but I didn’t eat outside the hotel much. The dish was a little spicy and came with some spicy sauce and a milk sauce. Washed it down with a Pepsi and payed the inflated bill, which I didn’t notice until later. We ate 2 biryanis at Rs. 95 each plus 2 sodas, but were charged for 3 sodas, 2 biryanis, 2 soups and 2 salads. Even the inflated total was less than 10 bucks. Surely an honest mistake.

The street from outside Paradise Biryani.

I mean no disrespect, but that's from Mad Max right?

After that I went back to the hotel and had a beer by the pool and relaxed for a couple hours.

Read Part 4...

No comments: