Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tol Mol ke Bol

Tol Mol ke Bol

It is a habit with some, a need for some others and an elusive target for most. However, if one is determined, one can improve for sure. Observing the seasoned pros in action is a good way to get initiated. In this field, nothing works like experience. So let’s explore how one can master the science of bargaining. 

1)    Do your research – Nothing equips you better than some prior knowledge of the prices of any product. Ask a few people who are probably using that product or are fairly knowledgeable about the market you plan to visit. Use the Internet. If you’re in a new place where you don’t know the tricks of the trade (let’s say, you’ve decided to shop on the bylanes of Mozambique) or you’ve not found anyone who would know how much a certain product should cost (think jewelry which the seller says is silver while you suspect to be junk), then read on… 

2)    Just conduct a mini-survey yourself – it doesn’t hurt to do some background check on your own! Ask the prices of atleast two-three other things that catch your eye – the shopkeepers would only go out of their way to win you over. Moreso, a bulk purchase normally has a lower price tag. A lot of them would succumb to greed and would offer to ‘negotiate’. However, you’ve gotta play hard to get. Move on…survey the other shops. Remember – Negotiation does not imply that it’s the best deal for you. It only means, you’ve gotta work harder. 

3)   Here’s how to ask for the price – This is the first step towards active bargaining. Keep the following in mind: 

a.     Check your body language – You cannot be sounding like it’s your first trip to that part of the world. The moment you let your guard down, it shows and you’d have just very naively invited the sharks! Look confident, talk business.

b.    Look shocked – okay…you’re felling like a millionaire suddenly and wouldn’t mind shelling out ‘em moolahs for the coveted object de art but hold your horses. You’ve gotta look shocked. Look bewildered, look puzzled, look cheated, raise your voice to a crescendo and repeat what the shoppie just told you and start nodding your head knowingly. You’ve got to let him know that what he just said was so ridiculous that even a four-year old wouldn’t rise to his bait!

c.   The shoppie’s trick – ‘dene ka daam bolo’…’madamji, aap hi boliye’…This is the quintessential response to corner you. It is guerilla warfare now.  The predator now wants to gauge how mush you actually know. He’s got every thing going for him while you’ve got your confidence and you math! NO, THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR KNOWING YOUR PERCENTAGES.

4)     Set your price – Now, this is where your gut will do the talking for the first few times i.e. of it’s a recurring purchase (which it is most likely to be for all good things worth bargaining for!). However, once you’ve learnt to maneuver the trade yourself, you’ll just be calling the shots a lot easily. The correct price is not necessarily what you’d end up paying but it’s the best you can manage. Remember, the shoppie’s also gonna be ‘working’ at the price and the game should end as a win-win for both – ideally! Begin with one-third the price and stick to it. There’s no turning around now that you’ve crossed the Rubicon. No matter how much you want, you can’t re-start at a lower price.

5)     Some handy phrases – Try these and invent your own - ‘toh aapse lene ka fayda kya hua?’, ‘aapke paas se quality ka samaan chahiye, isliye to aapki dukaan mein aaye hain’, ‘yeh dam kam thodi na bola humne?’, ‘aapko humein wapas aane dena hai aur samaan lene ki nahi?’…Use your sense of humor. Joke a bit. Avoid a heated argument since it only leads to a deadlock. Remember: You’ve haggling ‘cos you want that goddamned thing in the first place, isn’t it?

6)     Hurry up – You’ve got to look hurried after 3 rounds of debate with the shoppie. Ask him to hurry up. Say you’ve got other things to do and demand a final price. Quote your own revised price and be firm. I’ve seen most shoppies falling into the trap at this stage. They will come out with their final offer price. Remember: you can still manage the one last price since the customer is king. You’ve got to have the last word.

7)     Bag your prize – You’ve won the gameJ The proof is the price you’ve paid which should be close to where you started and farther from where the shoppie started. Do discuss the price with the next time a prospective buyer asks for your opinion or if you meet someone else who’s using that product. You just might find that someone’s got a better deal than you but that’s how you’ll learn.

8)     Go back to the same shop – You’ve gratified the shoppie and yourself in the process of bargaining. So the next time you go to that shop, u’re bound to succeed. Liaisons are mutually beneficial.

Now that we’ve learnt the tricks, I thought of sharing this simple recipe of pickles with you.

Masala Goonda (That’s the Indian Gooseberry. In case you don’t find that in the market, you could use green chillies and even tindi as a substitute)

The Bunch of Goondas we used

The Pickled Goondas 

What you need:

200g Goonda ( pic shared) – Wash, crack it with a pestle/pounder, de-stone and pressure-cook for just about two whistles. It’s pretty stick inside. (In case you’re using chillies, use the thick-skinned ones, since they’re less spicy. Wash and slit into two vertically. Similarly with the tindi.)

Salt to taste

Oil – about 4 spoons

Rai (Mustard seeds) – about one spoon

Heeng (asafetida) – half a spoon (we put one whole spoon since we just love the flavour but some people might find it a little strong for their taste)

Turmeric powder – about a quarter spoon

Dhania powder – about 3 spoons

Methi powder – about half a spoon (it’s bitter, no doubt but it works wonders to clean up your blood)

How to make it:

Heat oil in a pan and add rai. Once it begins to splatter, add the goonda. Add turmeric and salt. Saute for about a minute. Add dhania powder, heeng and methi powder. Mix well. Remove from gas and let it cool. Store in a glass bottle and it lasts for about 4-5 days without a fridge and for about 2 weeks inside one.

Just help yourself to a generous helping with your dal-chawal or the good ‘ol curd rice…ummmm…my mouth’s watering again… 


  1. girl you are just soo good at this..you shouldve started blogging much earlier!!!

  2. super insights to bargaining...i use the same thing...learnt the tricks of the trade from mum n grandmum....pros at it really....btw, the recipe seems yumm...but i aint much of a pickle person anymore....but keep em comin gurl