The Art of Bargaining

When we lived in the City, there was a large market nearby, called Bhuleshwar, which was a bargain-hunter’s paradise. There were large stores and smaller ones, as well as street vendors. All sorts of cloth, lace, trimmings, wool, plastic items, brass goods-the list is endless- could be found there. I often went to Bhuleshwar, especially if I needed stuff for my children’s next school play or dance competition.

Once I was buying some lace to make into a belt for my daughter. “Fifty Rupees, Bhabhiji.” the vendor stated. Now I am not much of a bargainer so I was ready to give him the fifty Rupees. when I saw the woman standing opposite me slightly shake her head. “Maybe forty?” I asked the seller. He nodded.

But the woman didn’t seem satisfied with my effort. So I continued,”No, I think maybe thirty five would be a good price.” I looked at my new friend for approval. She nodded slightly. So thirty five it was and the vendor accepted the price!

I learned a lot about bargaining in the years I lived in the City. My neighbour there was a Gujarati lady and she was a bargaining pro.

There used to come to our building a Bohari who took our old clothes and gave us steel vessels in return. I preferred to buy my pots in a store so I persuaded him to give me money instead. One day my neighbour watched the Bohari leave after giving me money in exchange for old clothes. “Is that all he gave you?” she asked in disgust,”Come tomorrow and see how I do it.”

The next day I went to see her bargain. “Are these all the clothes?” the Bohari asked her. “I’ll give you one steel pot for this.”

My neighbour picked up the pot and flung it down. “Just this? See how thin the steel is! I don’t want your pot. I’m taking my clothes back!”She started to gather the clothes.

“No, no, Bhabhiji, I’ll give you this one in addition.”-the Bohari said.

“What use are thin pots to me? I would not take five of them.” thundered Bhabhiji.

“Okay, I’ll give you a good one.” he agreed.

“Only one?”

“Okay I’ll give you two.”

My neighbour accepted the pots and sent me a triumphant glance!

We now live in the suburbs where most of the shops have ‘fixed rates’. Not much chance to bargain here. Shopping has become very tame.

But sometimes I am tempted to bargain, and putting down the item I want to buy, I storm out of the shop. I glance back out of the corner of my eye, to see if the shopkeeper will stop me, quoting a lower price. And sometimes he does!



  1. Manju, I cannot imagine you storming out of any place!!!But I can picture you being a successful bargainer. Your sweet demeanor probably lulls them into a false sense that they are dealing with someone who is not as savvy as you are!


  2. Unfortunately, Marie, I am not a good bargainer. I have learned a few tricks but if I begin to feel sorry for the seller then I agree to the price he’s asking!


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