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Dec 3, 2008

Bhajiwallah Blues by Guest writer Maria de Menezes aka Marlu.

At 9.00 am I get a call from another Bandra 40+ “auntie’. “Coming for a walk?” Off I go to the reformed Lion’s Club grounds, now known as the elite “Salsette Club” which has finally prodded the officious Bandra Gym officials to upgrade their facilities so as to continue reigning supreme. Bandra Auntie says to me “You’re the only NRI I know who wears dirty runners.” Now, those runners are my trump card for getting good deals on assorted purchases. First of all, they belong to my mother (no sensible NRI would wear their own good runners on Bombay roads in the monsoon). Secondly, the shoes you wear are the key to buying tomatoes at Rs 20 per kg as opposed to Rs 40 per kg. Which brings me to the all important accessory – the Goa bag! Walk into Bandra Bazaar with dirty shoes and a Goa bag and you may be able to get away unduped. Bhajiwallas have an uncanny eye for spotting the NRI and although the inflated prices are affordable for most of us, you DO NOT want to face the wrath of the aforementioned 80 yr old when you pay double the amount you should have. “Why didn’t you tell me you were going to buy all those things? These crooks know you’re from abroad and charge any damn thing.” On that note, my visiting NRI brother refrained from buying raw mangoes before checking with Mother what he should pay. “Five rupees”, Mother declared. So back he went, the vendor stated “Thirty rupees.” A tough decision to be made – Rs30 actually sounded more reasonable than Rs 5 and brother doesn’t want to end up in a fist fight, so he pays Rs 25 and both are happy. Two days later it comes up in conversation that jalli apples cost Rs 25. “What” bellows brother. “You pay Rs 25 for apples and expect me to pay Rs 5 for mangoes, that too, not in season!”
There are two possible conclusions to be drawn from this episode
Mother has not bought mangoes for fifteen years and has erred in her estimate of the price.
Mother is a bigger crook than the Bandra bhajiwallas

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Maria
Excellent.
As NRI's we are now assumed by our mudders and fadders to have forsaken any ability to defend ourselves from the dangers of itinerant pickpockets on Hill Road,meter fixing auto drivers,grocers who will palm off goods with the expiry date close to the date we left home.
Not to mention the fruit wallahs who I am lead to believe can make the CDO scam look like an act of kindness.
Conrad Leao

Anonymous said...

Very true! Bargaining is a true art form perfected by the Bandra Aunties (including my Mum). A successful deal gives one a real adrenalin rush!
Sam