5 January 2018

Sometimes, I wish I stuck to my core competencies…

One of the things I have made a habit out of after landing in a new country is learn the basics in the local language – you know – “Hello”, “Thank You”, “How are you” etc. If I am there for more than a day, I usually grab a local and learn a little more – like one thru ten, education system, political system and all that.

Bali is a place you always negotiate and haggle. And I like it. This is one of those “predictably irrational” things. I absolute delight in saving 30 cents in a haggle (the full price would be a dollar) but am too lazy to walk out of the hotel for half a kilometer and get my wine for five dollars less. Go figure.

In any case, after one of those temple visits today, the girls decided to buy some local sarongs. Once they had chosen what they wanted, they went away to sit under a tree as I commenced my bargaining.

The problem with my bargaining was that I was trying to beard the lion in its own den. So, I started with my knowledge in Indonesian numerals that I had just learnt the previous day – mpat.. noll.. noll… I started. For the Indonesiany-challenged, let me tell you – a problem with Indonesian currency is that everything is in thousands and millions. The lowest denomination in one thousand. No idea why. But basically, I was “nolling” all the time. (noll being a zero).

The lady was trying her best in her language. Which I did not know. But I knew the numbers. So, I even threatened to go down… “triga, lima, noll, noll…..”.

After a couple of minutes of exasperation, she gave up. Gave me a straight, stern look and said “Four dollars, sir?”.

I was stunned. I was not sure how to react once she had taken the fight to my home turf. Four dollars? Sure? By the way, that was for three sarongs.

The deal was done.

I was very satisfied.

Till now.

I have my calculator with me in my hand. Looks like I paid her more than what she had asked me to begin with!!


🙂 🙂

Posted January 5, 2018 by Rajib Roy in category "Humor", "Vacations


  1. By Subho Nath on

    I wish you have video taped your bargaining skill. It reminds me of Russel Peter’s Chinese and Indian bargaining episode.

  2. By Rajib Roy on

    After I read your comment, for the last two days, I have been trying to remember where did something similar language-error happen. I can’t remember. Do you remember where? Or when? I remember some hilarious mistakes that have happened (hot water/cold water, size of icecream, mixing up “friend” and “lover” – but can’t remember currency problem).

  3. By Sibapriya Dasgupta on

    Please , I’m sorry that you had to wrack your phenomenal memory for a trivial comment of mine .
    I should have put it in a different way . This sort of incidence has repeatedly occurred with many a person. Including my near relative here in India. When she went to a different state speaking a different language , the same hilarious mistake had been committed. I can name quite a good number of persons . In British ruled India this was common with unlettered village zamindars . So , rest easy, it’s my mistake.

  4. By Debyani Dasan on

    Serves you right. You have stayed out of the Asian bargaining circuit for a better part of your life. How do you expect to beat a local on their home turf??


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