RYS 200, 300, 500 in Rishikesh
I am walking off the Laxman Jhula bridge and continue down the main street. Everywhere shop-keepers are calling for my attention: ”Namasté, madam! Please come inside and have a look…” but I smile and shake my head, passing them. I overhear some American women ahead of me complaining about how you’re constantly approached by people wanting to sell things and that they start off asking for 500 rupees when you end up buying it for 200. I can see where they’re coming from in a way and sometimes it really gets on your nerves… but still; people are just trying to make a living and if I were in their shoes I would do the same. It’s very easy not to be obsessed with rupees when your tummy is full and you have your purse full of them, when your salary is in euros and dollars… I seriously have problems understanding how westerners can negotiate the prices to the point of being outright cheap, considering the living standard of the person selling the items.
When people first come here, they’re amazed over how cheap it is here and instead of keeping that feeling of happy appreciation of being able to make bargains daily, they want even more out of it. More, more, more… Can it get even cheaper? Can they save more? But there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Someone always pays and if it’s not from your pocket it is from the shopkeeper’s. And Indians are not much better!”How much did you pay for your taxi from Delhi?”, my Indian friend asked me and I told him 4000 rupees. ”I could’ve gotten it for 2000 rupees – you should’ve asked me!” he said with obvious irritation.
I tried to explain to him that it doesn’t matter to me if it’s 2000 or 4000 rupees. In my world, either sum is very cheap for some poor guy driving six hours to Delhi to pick me up and then six hours back to drop me off. That's twelve hours in the car, almost non-stop in crazy traffic I wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning to do what he’s doing for the salary he’s doing it for and I am humbled by this man’s good spirit.
The same guy has actually been driving me the last times I’ve taken a taxi here (sugarcane man!) and every time he teaches me a little hindi and explains something about his country, which is worth a lot to me. Yesterday, in the taxi from Dehradun to Rishikesh, we were inches from a frontal crash with a truck but Sugarcane-man kept his cool and smiling he shook his head: ”Big crazy!!” he exclaimed and I couldn’t but agree, somewhat shocked… then he smiled again and said: ”Ten percent of all Indian men are crazy! Big Crazy!” Big crazy… love that!
When I was young(er) ;) I was leading and coaching a sales team, selling insurances, subscriptions etc. over the phone. Now, if you can become good at selling over the phone you can eventually sell sand to a Bedouin or snow to an Eskimo. It’s not easy as you’re constantly told to pretty much go to hell and sometimes you have nothing but your voice as a tool to convince a stranger of opening his purse… keeping their spirits up was indeed a challenge! But what I learnt and tried to tell my team was that it’s not a good sell unless both parties are happy with the deal when they hang up the phone. It’s not a good deal if you’re the only one happy with it and that is common sense and applicable to everything in life. If you’re in a relationship and you’re the only one happy in it, it wouldn’t count as a sane and happy relationship, right?
What something is worth is only dependent on the market it is sold in and your personal budget. You have to make your inner price list of what something is worth to you… A cappuccino by the Seine in Paris costs about 600 rupees last time I checked, which is what I would get four skirts for in Rishikesh. No one can tell the value of something, it’s all up to you but whether you’re enjoying a ridiculously expensive coffee or feeling beautiful in an outrageously cheap skirt, make sure that at the end of the day everyone is happy with the deal and all over the world, but especially here… everyone’s just trying to make a living!