Thursday, June 2

Looking is Free

My purchases from India will suffice to remind me of the memories associated with buying them, but I want to share with you the neat and thrilling experience I had acquiring some things.

First, Jen and I bought Indian selwar suits. We were guided to a small shop stuffed with fabric on a side street off the market in Pitampura, Delhi. There, Raju greeted us with colonial British and guided our selections. Our enthusiasm grew as we picked through hundreds of fabrics. A master tailor measured us every which way. Then, in two plastic bags, our selected fabrics disappeared with the tailor and returned that evening in the form of four lovely perfectly fitting Indian suits. Of course we ended up having the ankles let out to accommodate our giant Canadian feet. Raju specially died duppatas to match for us and gifted us each a lovely pashmina. Operation-Become-an-Indian-Prinsess was complete.

Second: Amelia and Jen get (almost) scammed. Our lovely driver to Agra, Raj, tricked us into going to a marble shop. We received a personal demonstration of how semi-precious stones are inlaid into marble the traditional way. The craftsmen were very skillful and claimed to be descendants of the workers of the Taj Mahal. But, although it was an enjoyable and educational opportunity, the pressure to buy their work was enormous and completely inconvienent. We could hardly carry a marble table or even just the table top with us for four months. Fortunately we were able to talk them down to two marble elephants for 500 rupees. We quickly escaped with our trinkets to the car waiting outside.

Third, Jen and Amelia get scammed (and compensated). We're in Jaipur. The pink city that makes you want to embrace princess-hood and shop until you are pretty in pink. We don't want more weight in our packs, but we cave in when an honest man recommends the bengal shop his family uses. Tucked away from the main drag of humming shopkeepers, we attempt to get some wholesale priced bangles. Sitting on the floor in the back of a three roomed shop filled wall-to-wall floor-to-ceiling with bangles, the shopkeeper and his assistant forcefully spin bangle after bangle over our sheared hands. When we finally choose our favorites there is a modest mountain of jewelry piled between us. Excited about our selection and eager to get back to exploring in the warm sun, we mistakenly agree on an outrageous price. We share tea with the sellers and leave feeling warmed by their generosity. As the day goes on I feel increasingly like a victim of a scam. It comes as huge relief to me, when upon exiting the sun soaked mountainous Amber Palace, the bangle shop owner is waiting for us. He hurriedly and quietly explained a complex situation where he feels awful that he had been pressured into scamming us. He insists on sending us back to the shop (and meeting his family, which we politely declined) where we are to ask for justice. We obediently comply and Jen recites a few lines that he prepared for us. We leave two sets of bangles and 400 rupees richer, and hopefully a little wiser.

1 comment:

  1. AnonymousJune 21, 2011

    If you must know, we have a small table from that place in our home. VERY hard to say "no". It was shipped to us. I drew the line in an emerald place, though. Just walked out. Chris W.