30 June 2011

Vor You, Veeeddy Gud Price!

Every few weeks we have a Tuareg trader that passes through selling artisan made jewelry and handicrafts.  The stuff he sells is alright, considering he brings it 'to our door' . . . but his prices are HIGH!

But it's also very cultural to barter and haggle for a better price.  Something about a long tradition of giving the vendor the opportunity to demonstrate his generosity.  Some days it's fun.  Other's it just tiresome.

In the past few months, I've bought a couple of pairs of earrings from this particular trader . . . which might have been my first mistake.  So now, every time he comes (usually for a three-day stint), I can't walk past him (he sits at the entrance to the residential side of the compound) without him hassling me until I stop and look.

Normally I look and then tell him 'babu bakata' ('there is no need'), say my goodbyes and I'm on my way.  But today I needed to buy a little gift for a friend, so I went in hunt of a pair of earrings.

After our long string of greetings in Hausa (and I threw in the only word I know in Tamajaq for good measure), he showed me his 'recommendations'.  The first was a set which included a silver necklace, bracelet, earrings, and ring.  I told him I was only looking for a pair of earrings . . . and already I had my eyes on what I wanted.  He the suggested a necklace/bracelet combo that was made from silver, copper and bronze.  I told him I wasn't interested.

He pressed on, telling me how beautiful it would look on me.  I told him I wasn't shopping for myself today.  He informed me that so far, nothing I had purchased from him was for myself (his 'suggestions' are a bit of a ritual for us . . . he tells me how beautiful I will look wearing these pieces of jewelry, I tell him 'no thanks' and we continue in circles until I tell him I'm not shopping for me).  I tried another approach.  'I only have enough money to buy the earrings.'  He didn't believe me.

Tuareg Trader: For you, 25,000 francs.
Deb.: I'm not interested.
T.T.: But it will look beautiful on you.
D.: But I'm not buying something for myself today.
T.T.: But it's a good price.
D.: But I'm not going to buy it.
T.T.: But I've been here three days and no one has bought anything.  I stayed an extra day, just for you.
D.:  But I don't want that, and I'm not buying it.
T.T. Okay, 20,000 francs.
D.: No thank you.
T.T.: But it is good quality!
D.: But I don't want it.
T.T.: But it will look beautiful on you.
D.: But I don't want it.
T.T.: Okay, 15,000 francs.  Last price.
D.: Even if I did want it, WHICH I DON'T, I don't have 15,000.  I have enough for the earrings I'm buying for my friend, and that's all I have.
(He didn't believe me.)
T.T.: 15,000 is a very good price!

I told him one last time that I didn't want anything other than the earrings (which at that point I was considering changing my mind), and I would go home and bring back all the money I had in the house which is what I would pay for the earrings.

When I returned with the last bit of money I have (minus my gardeness' wages that I have to pay tomorrow), I handed it to him.  'But this is not enough for the very good price of 15,000 francs for the necklace and bracelet set!'  'That's because I'm not buying it.'  'But this is not enough, where's the rest?'  'THAT IS ALL THE MONEY I HAVE.  AND I DON'T WANT THE NECKLACE AND BRACELET!!!

 'Oh,' he said, 'okay, since you are so beautiful, you only have to pay 14,000!'



Shal said...

You know, he is right. You are so beautiful!

Amanda at Home said...

This totally made me smile. I remember doing just the same thing when we were in Niger. In fact, I have a fulani hat that I bought from a trader on the compound at Galmi, wonder if its the same one, I have a photo of him somewhere.

Deb. said...

HA! That's awesome!!

And you've been in Galmi?!?! FABULOUS!! Middle of nowhere, yet somehow I continue to find Galmi connections around the world! I love it!

Deb. said...

Maybe . . . but he was just hoping to make a sale! :)

Bobnrobn said...

Yooooooooooou are sooo beyootiful to meeeeeeeeeee, can't you seeeeeeeee.....that was a song sang way back when by Joe Cocker! But you wouldn't remember and I can't sing......so what did the earrings finally cost you???  xoxoxoxxo