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