Walking back and forth thru Jaisalmer’s cobblestone streets that lined the maze inside the fort, every day and night was an experience in business. Shop owners wanted us to buy their shoes, pants, shirts, ornaments and trinkets, leather-bound journals, leather bags and satchels, pillow covers, tapestries, rugs, etc. “Friend! You promised to come inside! You no have to buy! Just look!”
And so it was, on this particular day, we finally succumbed to one of the promises we made. Our time was running out; and the race was about to start the next day.
We found ourselves inside a shop selling traditional Rajistani pants on our way to one of the leather shoe stores. Towards the end of the negotiations, our conversation went something like this…
The salesman/owner (I could never tell which) complimented my choice in the pants I was holding, “That’s the happiness colour, sir!”
I responded quickly, “This is “happiness” colour? For 250, I will buy this.”
“No, sir. That is linen, sir.”
“This is linen? This is not linen! It’s cotton.”
DaveRisner taking a video on his iPhone was not helping. Looking at the salesman, he made the excuse pointing at me. “He’s from San Francisco.”
I retorted, directing my comment back to the salesperson, doing my best Indian head-shake. “But I’m from India! Let’s agree to 250.”
“Ah no. This is very nice material. See? Look at this!”
I agreed. “Yes, it’s very nice! I know it’s very nice, but I also know in India the first price is not the right price!”
“Ha, no! I give fair price!” I played the look of the innocent, his face wearing pretend dismay.
I countered, “I’m from India! I know! Give me something better.”
“Ok, 400. Just for you.”
With fake disappointment masked in a smile, but shaking my head “Really? Really?”
“Really. Just for you. 400.”
And now Derek got into the act. “He’s your best friend, Cecil.” Derek — you’re not helping.
“You’re my best friend? Are you?”
Siding with Derek, the salesman pleaded. “Really, I am! You’re my best friend!”
“Ok, how about we do 375. That’s fair.”
“I don’t have any change.” Of course he didn’t have change. We would find out consistently that Indians had no change.
Rallying back to my corner, Derek said “Cecil, all you have is 300.”
“Yes, all I have is 300. C’mon man.” I had ESPN in my head.
“Please, sir. Open your heart. Open your wallet.” He was going for the jugular.
“Open my heart!?!!!”
I couldn’t help but laugh.
This was a new one, and a good one.
Fake shaking my head, “Open my wallet!??!!”
“It’s just money, dude.” Now DaveRisner isn’t helping.
“My heart is open. I’m in here cos my heart is so open!” Ah, Derek — thanks for bringing it back.
Taking his attention from me to Derek, the salesperson asked, “Yes sir, you have your heart open. What would you like?”
“You see that wall there?”
His eyes wide open… “Oh yes, I do.”
“I’ll take it all. For 1000. Can you ship it to the US?”
Laughter. That deal wasn’t done, as I forked over 400 rupees.
One transaction done, the salesperson pointed at DaveRisner. “What about you, sir?”
DaveRisner is a tough nut for any salesperson to crack. He could wear down Job. India perhaps has the best salespeople on the planet; but they’d never met DaveRisner. “I’m good, man. If we were in Shillong, we’d be in business. Goto Shillong. I will see you there.”
Looking in my direction as I walk out, DaveRisner commented, “Look at this guy, the master negotiator!! He talked him down from 500 to 400.”
I’m sensing a little sarcasm.
“Davey — in India, the first price is never the right price!”
(This would be one of over hundred experiences we had buying something, anything at all, in India. We ended up buying custom suits, custom shirts, leather bags, leather journals, pants, shoes, statues, etc.)
For six dollars on this day, I bought a pair of pants. Now onto the shoe store.
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ALWAYS BE EPIC.