Thursday, November 22, 2012

Shopping India Style

Emma negotiating at a Malaysian market for the latest in faux fashion. 

We knew shopping would be a bit different here in Asia.  Aside from all the new European and Asian brands,  and the necessity to haggle on everything from chewing gum to the phone bill,  we have discovered a few finer points on shopping. 

Pants around the neck. Not every place has a changing room, particularly the low priced bazaars.  You can always try on a shirt easily enough,  but it is not so simple with pants.  To solve that problem, people wrap the waist of the pants around their necks.  Since your neck is about half the size of your waist,  if the buckled pants fit your neck,  they will also fit your waist when you get home.  

Double Occupancy. Upscale shops do have dressing rooms and they sometimes come with their own customs.  When Becky purchased her first Sari,  the sales girl came into the dressing room with her to help her change.  Luckily,  no one has tried that with me in the Levi’s store. 

All Sales Final.  When you buy a light bulb at Home Depot,  do you insist the cashier plug it in ?  Do you open your egg carton to make sure you have chicken eggs ?   Since all sales are final,  we do exactly that.   We still got burned a few months ago when Emma bought a bottle of shampoo that came wrapped with a free sample of face soap.  She unwrapped it at home and discovered the shampoo bottle was completely empty.  The weight of the free sample threw us off.  

No reasonable offer refused,  Anything is reasonable.    It is important in negotiation to determine how much something is worth to you before haggling.  Knowing that,  I was still surprised when my sister bought a ring that only mildly interested her.   When she first discovered they wanted $200 for it, she lost all interest.  They kept coming down in price and finally asked her what she would only pay.  The jeweler seemed a little offended when she said $40.  It went directly back into the case.  2 minutes later,  the jeweler give it to her for the $40.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I’m Ready for the Big Screen

Most Indian people are quite pleasant, so when you have a run in with someone who is difficult,  it sets off an alarm bell.  You’re either doing some thing they don’t like or they hold some power over you.  I’ve learned to pay close attention when the bell goes off.  And when someone is being just too nice,  this sets off the high alert.  
I recently ran into this situation while trying to bring a Television from the US through customs at Bangalore International.  The TV was checked luggage and didn’t make the transfer with me onto the plane with in Paris.  I had to come back to the airport and retreive it from customs.  Three times. 
The first was an exercise in Indian bureaucracy.  I and a junior Air France gate agent who was unfortunate enough to be there when I arrived,  ran around to all the security offices trying to get me into airport customs.  When we found the right guy,  produced the correct documents,  filled out the proper forms and did a little shouting,  I was finally let in.  We arrived at customs just in time for lunch hour.   We could have waited the hour, but the next international flight wasn’t due until 1am that night,  so we might be waiting until then.  I’ll come back. 
The next time was smooth sailing through security,  but the Customs agent didn’t seem to pleased to see us.  We may have woke him up from a nap.  They brought the TV around and when he saw the beauty of the 55” flat screen,  it just made him meaner.  Signal the Alarm Bell.  His suggestion was that I leave it in customs and then take it back when I return to the US. I can just picture him watching every Cricket match on my TV for the next year.   Then he introduced me to his boss,  who was probably the nicest person I ever met.   Signal high alert. After offering Tea and Biscuits,  he kindly explained to me that the value of the TV was nearly $3200,  but since he was such a good guy he would give me the Indian citizen exemption and the duty would only be $600.  Cash please. I’ll come back.
The third time,  Prakash at security waived me through with a smile.  The same grumpy customs agent was there and was none too happy when I presented my $900 receipt for the TV.  As he grudgingly wrote out the paperwork for the $180 due in duties,  he asked his assistant the size of the TV.  When she said “55-inches”,  he made a snarky remark at my expense. I don’t speak the local language,  but I’m sure it was,  “This guy’s compensating for something.”  

My Girls with the Big Screen safely at home.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Where have I been ?

Yes,  I was shipped back to the US for time.  Fortunate enough my old company wanted me for a 3-month assignment.    I really enjoyed all the fresh air, predictable efficiency and open spaces.  The US seems almost empty compared to India.  I also had some great times with my Folks and brothers & sisters.  Not much else to report unless you'd like to hear about the adventures of plastics in the Auto industry,  but that’s for another blog.  Now and I’m back in the swing of things here in Bangalore.  

The fish my Dad caught off the coast of Florida.
The biggest fish of the day.
The Turtle I caught off the coast of Florida.
(some details may not be 100% accurate)