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The Bargain

Steve Beals loves to travel. He hiked the Pacific Rim Trail and three times biked across the US.

Throughout much of the world, the exchange of goods and services will often involve some negotiation. This seems less so in the western world, but as you venture out to other lands you will find the practice to be much more common; and an advantage, so you may bargain for a better price. As my friend Gordon would say, "That way you can avoid the dumb tourist price."

India is a fascinating country. It is perhaps the most interesting that we've visited: sacred cows, public cremation of the deceased, snakes being charmed, very public bathrooms, and so forth. And India is a very good place to work on your bargaining skills. The folks in this part of the world are very good at it, so you't! get some good practice.

We had been bargaining our way across India/Nepal for a few weeks, traveling independently, and we were winding up our trip in the charming city of Udaipur, India. Cruising the back streets, we came upon a small shop selling antiques and other similar stuff. I found a jar of old coins, selected several that looked most interesting, and asked the proprietor how much he wanted for them.

The negotiation went something like this:

"How much do you want for these coins?"

Response: "Eight dollars."

"Oooh. I can go two dollars."

Response: "Two dollars! They're worth way more than that."

"Okay, I'll go $2.50."

Response: "No, the best l can do is five dollars."

"No thanks, you keep em" Long pause. Response: "Okay, special today, I'll give them to you for four dollars."

"No thanks. I don't want them anymore."

Response: "Okay, Okay, I'll accept your offer and sell them to you for two-fifty."

"No. I told you I don't want them anymore."

Response; "Okay, then you can have them for your original offer — two dollars."

"No, I've changed my mind. I don't want them."

Another very long pause. Response: "Well, I want you to have them, and I'm giving them to you for free."

"I told you I don't want them." Response: "But you can't refuse a gift."

As I reflect upon this incident. I have come to believe this was the perfect negotiation, The proprietor had the final word — "You can't refuse a gift."

I got a pretty good deal for the coins, and we both walked away with a smile. It was a win, win, win. Not at all bad in this part of the world.

~ Steve Beals





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